2021 Nissan Rogue Review: Keeping it Simple

Nissan plays it safe while improving the redesigned 2021 Rogue.

2021 Nissan RogueChristian Wardlaw

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There is an adage that you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken. Nissan adheres to this advice with its redesigned 2021 Rogue, the best-selling model in its lineup. Overall, the new 2021 Nissan Rogue is a better five-passenger crossover SUV than before. While it looks different, Nissan retains the Rogue’s familiar simplicity concerning its packaging.

When you shop for a new 2021 Rogue, your choice is between S, SV, SL, and Platinum trim levels. The Platinum trim is new for 2021 and it adds quilted premium leather seats, heated back-seat cushions, ambient interior lighting, and every technology the crossover offers. Prices across the lineup range from the high $20,000s to nearly $40,000.

2021 Nissan RogueChristian Wardlaw

Highlights of the Rogue’s redesign include:

  • Stylish appearance
  • Roomy interior
  • Four-door Intelligent Key
  • Tri-zone climate control
  • Wireless charging
  • And other new technologies
Nissan says it designed the Rogue’s interior to serve as a “family hub,” emphasizing comfort, convenience, practicality, and utility. Improved infotainment and safety systems are also aboard. The Rogue’s four-cylinder engine creates a little more power than it did before.

For this review, Nissan provided a 2021 Rogue SL with optional all-wheel drive (AWD) and a Premium Package containing the largest 9-inch touchscreen display, navigation system, and premium sound system. It also equipped the test vehicle with ProPilot Assist, Nissan’s advanced driving assistance system (ADAS) for highway travel.

2021 Nissan RogueChristian Wardlaw


With the 2021 Rogue, Nissan introduces a new design language for its family of crossovers and SUVs. The look is modern and technical, with overtones of sporty ruggedness. Thanks to the contemporary styling, this Rogue looks more substantial and sophisticated than the version it replaces.

Inside, the Rogue takes a similar leap forward in terms of appeal. Quality materials, cohesive forms, and smart storage solutions are its standard. Nissan places the controls in logical locations; aside from the electronic transmission shifter, they are immediately intuitive (and you can get used to the shifter). Fonts and graphics are straight out of the Nissan history books, though, and they could use an update.

2021 Nissan RogueChristian Wardlaw

Thanks to Nissan’s well-established “Zero Gravity” front seat designs, the new Rogue is quite comfortable. The expansie rear-seat room helps to make up for a relatively flat and featureless cushion. The test vehicle had what Nissan claims is a “class-exclusive” triple-zone automatic climate control system. Parents of young children may appreciate how the rear doors open to nearly 90 degrees, making it easier to load kids into child safety seats. Our test vehicle also had rear side window shades to keep Mr. Sun out of little ones’ eyes.

2021 Nissan RogueChristian Wardlaw

Nissan’s “Divide-N-Hide” cargo organization system creates a rather lumpy and flimsy cargo floor, but it must come in handy to Rogue fans because it wasn’t eliminated with this redesign. By Nissan’s measurement, the Rogue supplies up to 36.5 cu. ft. of cargo space behind the back seat and 72.9 cu. ft. with the rear seat folded down. These are generous amounts for the crossover SUV segment.

2021 Nissan RogueChristian Wardlaw


The 2021 Rogue features the latest NissanConnect infotainment technology with a standard 8-inch or available 9-inch touchscreen. The displays reside at the top of the dashboard where they are easy to see and use. For quick access to common functions, Nissan provides stereo control knobs and a row of buttons.

Our test vehicle had the most comprehensive menu of technologies. In addition to the standard smartphone integration (wireless only for Apple devices), it offered Nissan’s “door-to-door” navigation system. This means it will continue providing directions to your final destination via the NissanConnect smartphone app even if the last leg of the journey involves walking instead of driving.

The test vehicle also had wireless smartphone charging, a 10-speaker premium sound system, and access to NissanConnect subscription services such as:

  • Automatic collision notification
  • Safe teen driver functions
  • Car finder
  • Remote engine starting
  • Climate system operation
  • And more

These features are free for a limited time before requiring a paid subscription to continue the service.

Aside from an unconventional approach to on-screen menus and stereo knobs mounted too close to flush to the infotainment system’s surface, NissanConnect is easy to use except for its voice recognition technology. Unfortunately, it had a difficult time understanding speech and made it impossible to enter a specific address by voice, causing trouble when attempting to “Cancel” or “Exit” the system. It also could not find a local restaurant by name.

2021 Nissan RogueChristian Wardlaw

Nissan helps solve for safety by equipping most versions of the Rogue with a 360-degree surround-view camera system, which includes a moving object detection system. This technology makes it easier to park and maneuver the crossover.

Nissan Safety Shield 360—a collection of ADAS that includes blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems— is standard, and every 2021 Rogue has a rear-seat reminder system to help prevent an owner from accidentally leaving a child or a pet inside the vehicle.

The SL Premium Package equips the Rogue with ProPilot Assist and Navi-Link. This name describes adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assistance technology using navigation maps and GPS data to automatically slow the Rogue in certain driving situations. ProPilot Assist is not a hands-free driving assistance technology. Drivers must remain alert with their hands on the steering wheel while ProPilot Assist is in operation.

In the 2021 Rogue, ProPilot Assist uses new radar and camera technology to supply a smoother assisted driving experience. On flat, straight, higher-speed highways, it works well. However, descending a curving mountain grade on a local freeway, ProPilot Assist seemed less confident. The technology also demonstrated some confusion about vehicles parked on the shoulder of the Pacific Coast Highway near a popular surfing location. On a local freeway transition ramp, it slowed too much turning the Rogue into a traffic bottleneck.

The 2021 Nissan Rogue earns a “Top Safety Pick+” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This is the highest rating available from the IIHS. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says the 2021 Rogue earns an overall crash-protection rating of four out of five stars, an unusual stumble for a brand-new design.

2021 Nissan RogueChristian Wardlaw


A standard 2.5L four-cylinder gasoline engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT) supply power for the Rogue. Front-wheel drive is standard with AWD optional. The AWD system features a driveline disconnect feature to help conserve fuel when added traction is unnecessary.

The engine makes 181 hp and 181 lb.-ft. of torque, with the latter readily accessible at 3,600 rpm. The CVT is programmed with step ratios to sound and feel more like a traditional automatic, even including paddle shifters to give a driver manual control over the drivetrain. Drivers can choose between Auto, Eco, Sport, Snow, and Off-Road driving modes.

According to the EPA, the Rogue should return between 28 and 30 mpg in combined driving depending on its configuration. Our SL AWD test vehicle carried a rating of 28 mpg. During testing on the evaluation loop, it averaged 26.9 mpg according to the onboard trip computer.

Nissan equips the 2021 Rogue with Active Ride Control, which it says can help “smooth out the bumps.” Unfortunately, this feature did not produce the expected effect during the evaluation. The Rogue SL’s 19-inch wheels could be partly to blame, but the crossover exhibited a busy ride on imperfect pavement allowing no shortage of body motion over speed humps in front of a local elementary school.

Intelligent Trace Control is also standard: a brake-based torque vectoring control system that helps to improve handling by tucking the vehicle tighter into a turn. Overall, the Rogue’s handling is secure. Undulating pavement can elicit some lateral weight toss, but otherwise the Rogue inspires confidence (if not enthusiasm) for driving.

It is worth noting that the Rogue’s CVT rarely calls attention to itself, which is a good thing. The shift paddles aren’t the most rewarding to use, and choosing Sport mode doesn’t seem to have much effect on the crossover’s responsiveness. Nonetheless,the Rogue’s CVT is a good one.

2021 Nissan RogueChristian Wardlaw


Nissan designs and engineers the 2021 Rogue to appeal to the broadest cross-section of crossover SUV buyers. It has style, the technology many seek, and supplies the utility inherent in this type of vehicle. It also has enough quickness, efficiency, and dynamism to satisfy people most of the time. Plus, if you choose the new Platinum trim level, it offers a look and feel on par with entry-level luxury vehicles.

However, the competition in this segment is ferocious in the form of performance, off-roading capability, technology, and value. If one of these specific elements is most important to you, there are competing models to what the 2021 Nissan Rogue has to offer. Comparatively, the Rogue comes across as the center of overlap on a crossover SUV Venn diagram, which may speak to sales success if not buyer passion.

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Christian Wardlaw
My first word was “car.” That’s what I’m told, anyway. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with them. The design. The engineering. The performance. And the purpose. I’m a car enthusiast who loves to drive, but I’m also most interested in the cars, trucks, and SUVs that people actually buy. Anybody can tell you that a sports car is fast. What you need to know is whether or not you should buy that new SUV, and why. My life purpose is to help you make that decision.