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2021 Nissan Rogue gets redesign, better performance and new tech

Nissan's redesigned Rogue prepares to battle the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 with its Family Hub interior and ProPilot Assist tech.

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- 07:48

Meet the new Nissan Rogue.

Nissan

Nissan debuted its all-new third-generation Rogue on Monday, and for a number of reasons, it's a really big deal. Nissan is overhauling and consolidating its lineup, transforming into a much smaller beast, while also ambitiously updating and redesigning nearly its entire remaining stable. We're all waiting with bated breath for what will become of the Z-car, but the humble Rogue is Nissan's best-selling model and, outside of the brand, one of the best-selling in its class. 

This compact SUV is probably our earliest and best look at how this Nissanaissance will play out, so getting it right is more important than ever. 

Rogue redesign has a chunky new look

We think Nissan nailed the Rogue's redesign. The new model is an inch and a half shorter than before, at about 183 inches from nose to tail, yet manages to appear more imposing in photographs thanks to its more vertical fascia, more upright stance and chunkier proportions. The new Rogue looks solid, but it'll be interesting to see if this trick of the eye stands up in person.

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Up front, the double V-Motion grille returns, now flanked by a split headlamp design. The new configuration puts the daytime running light signature up top, separating the standard LED headlamps into their own pod below. The new design is bold, and sure to be a bit divisive, but the more we look at it, the more we like it. At the very least, it's almost subdued next to the Toyota RAV4's gaping maw.

Integrated into the new face are aerodynamic design details such as active grille shutters and air curtain intakes that smooth turbulent air around the sides of the vehicle. Other aero tweaks include reshaped A-pillars and underbody cladding, all of which aim to improve efficiency and reduce wind noise at speed.

The SUV's profile, with its "floating" roof design and thick D-pillar, reminds us of the RAV4's flanks, but toned down a tad. The resemblance becomes more striking when presented in one of the five new two-tone color combinations. The Nissan's wheel-to-body ratio and shorter rear overhangs give it a tidier, more purposeful appearance, too.

Out back, the Rogue's rear end sharpens up with taillamps that stretch horizontally and a larger opening for the motion-activated liftgate. Pop the hatch and you'll find rear seats that fold at the flick of a lever and a redesigned version of the Nissan's Divide-n-Hide cargo area -- which I enjoyed in the previous generation -- with improved stowage flexibility and more usefully sized cubbies.

2021 Nissan Rogue vs. 2020 Nissan Rogue


2021 Nissan Rogue 2020 Nissan Rogue
Engine 2.5-liter I4 2.5-liter I4
Power 181 hp 170 hp
Torque 181 lb-ft 175 lb-ft
Transmission CVT CVT
City fuel economy 27 mpg 26 mpg
Highway fuel economy 35 mpg 33 mpg
Combined fuel economy 30 mpg 29 mpg
Wheelbase 106.5 in 106.5 in
Length 183.0 in 184.5 in
Width 72.4 in 72.4 in
Height 66.9 in 68.5 in
Cargo capacity 39.3 / 74.1 cu-ft 39.3 / 70.0 cu-ft

Rogue overhauls interior with 'Family Hub' design

The Rogue's interior overhaul is just as extensive as the exterior's. Nissan's so-called Family Hub design theme aims to make the back seats as pleasant as the front. The automaker's NASA-inspired, spine-cradling Zero Gravity seats now come standard for both front and rear passengers. Up front, there's more range of motion for sliding and lift, to better fit a wider range of torso and leg lengths. In back, you get improved knee- and headroom, standard reclining seatbacks and optional heated seats.

Available remote start with Intelligent Climate Control allows drivers to heat or cool the cabin before loading up, while optional tri-zone climate control and rear pull-up sun shades help manage backseat temperature independent of the front row while on the road. The new Rogue also features Intelligent Keyless Access for all four doors, as well as redesigned rear doors that open nearly 90 degrees for easier passenger loading and improved access for child safety seats.

The automaker redesigned the center console to use a butterfly opening, rather than the more common rear hinge, to grant rear passengers better access to the center storage bin.

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Nissan claims that every door pocket has room for up to a 32-ounce water bottle. That's deep! 

Nissan

Rogue includes NissanConnect with up to three screens

Inside the Rogue, drivers are presented with up to three screens. Directly ahead are an optional 10.8-inch color head-up display and either a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster or a 7-inch multi-information display, depending on the trim level chosen. There's also the 9-inch NissanConnect infotainment screen sticking out of the dashboard, which is the largest center screen in the compact crossover class.

Navigation is optional at the SL trim level and standard on the top-level Rogue Platinum. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are also standard across the board for drivers who'd rather bring their own maps and apps via their smartphone. To keep devices charged, the Rogue will feature four USB ports (two type-C and two type-A) split between the two rows. 

An optional 15-watt wireless phone charging pad will be available for drivers who'd rather skip the cord, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity joining the feature list sometime after launch.

We can't help but notice more than a little RAV4 in the Rogue's profile.

Nissan

ProPilot Assist with Navi-Link improved in 2021 Rogue

Nissan's ProPilot Assist driver assistance was improved for the new Rogue and will be available on upper trim levels. Combining adaptive cruise control with sophisticated lane-centering steering assist and more, this tech is an excellent feather in Nissan's cap. This updated version features improvements to usability in stop-and-go traffic, advanced sensors that allow it to see and react to the road and other vehicles more smoothly and improved on-center feel around highway corners. 

Upgrading to navigation in the dashboard also upgrades ProPilot with Navi-Link. So optioned, the SUV is able to tie navigation data into ProPilot's operation, actively slowing the set cruising speed for tight highway curves, busy junctions or through freeway exits. This not only improves safety, but Nissan claims it helps the steering assist to operate more confidently, reducing the need for drivers to constantly toggle ProPilot on and off. 

The system can even suggest changes to the cruising speed when the posted speed limit goes up or down. By default, drivers can accept the new limit with a single tap on a steering wheel button, but they can also opt for automatic speed changes. Route-based speed is a very new feature to the industry, so far limited to luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz, which makes its trickling down to the Rogue extremely exciting. (Honestly, Nissan's opt-in speed limit changes sound easier for drivers than to get used to than Benz's all-or-nothing approach to the tech.)

ProPilot is available on all but the base S trim level with Navi-Link becoming optional for SL and standard for Platinum. However, Nissan's Safety Shield 360 suite of driver aid technologies is standard across the board, meaning all 2021 Rogues will roll off the lot with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning, high-beam assist, rear automatic braking and driver alertness monitoring.

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A rear camera is standard, but the Rogue can upgrade to an optional 360-degree Intelligent Around View Monitor.

Nissan

2021 Nissan Rogue has better performance

Tucked underneath the third-generation Rogue's more upright design is Nissan's new Common Module Family (CMF) platform, with stiffer, lighter framework. The result, Nissan claims, is a smoother, more controlled ride and improved handling. Add to that improvements to the electric power steering system and the Rogue should be a lot nicer to drive than before.

Handling gets an additional boost from optional on-demand Intelligent All-Wheel Drive -- front-wheel-drive is standard -- and the Rogue's Vehicle Motion Control, a sophisticated stability control system that can brake each wheel individually to help the SUV corner more accurately and predictably. 

At the business end of the powertrain, only one engine will be available at launch: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine providing 181 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. That's 11 more ponies than last year and 6 more pound-feet, which it will send through a retuned version of Nissan's Xtronic continuously variable transmission. The not-a-gearbox gets its own retune aimed at improved acceleration and efficiency. We aren't always the biggest fan of CVTs, but Nissan has proven a surprisingly competent steward of the tech, so we expect this one to be mostly inoffensive.

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The Rogue features a new electronic shifter that frees up storage beneath the center console for bits and bobs.

Nissan

2021 Nissan Rogue fuel economy, price and availability

Fuel economy sees small gains for 2021 with the front-wheel drive Rogue S leading the way with 27 city, 35 highway and 30 combined miles per gallon, while the heaviest AWD models should return 25 city, 32 highway and 28 combined mpg -- about a 1-2 mpg gain year over year.

Pricing hasn't been announced just yet, but we don't think the S, SL and SV models will stray too far outside of the current $25,000-to-$35,000 range. The top-trim Platinum model is a new addition for this generation, but even that should price short of "premium" tier models. Expect to learn more before the redesigned 2021 Nissan Rogue hits dealerships this fall.