The all-new Rogue is the best one yet, and improves in almost every category.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Pricing: 2021 Nissan Rogue
Base price (SV AWD trim): $34,598
Options: $2,200 Premium Package; $300 Pearl
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $39,058
This is the latest version, all-new for this year, of Nissan’s best selling model.
I enjoyed the styling of the new Rogue. The slab-sided styling looks tough and a bit edgy, albeit a tad tall and skinny from some angles, and you’ll find common Nissan elements like the floating roof and the V-motion grille. I thought my review sample had a great paint colour too – the matte colour is called Boulder Gray.
Lighting is LED all the way around – headlights, daytime running lights and tail lights.
18-inch wheels fill out the fenders nicely. Overall, the Rogue has a premium, modern feel to it without breaking any styling barriers – and that’s what will appeal to the typical buyer.
The materials in the Rogue cabin are interesting. There are plenty of softer-touch plastics, including upholstered panels with contrasting stitching here and there. I didn’t love the sort-of-contrasting darker brown at the top of the dash and door panels – other passengers agreed that it comes off as a bit of a strange look especially because nothing else in the cabin is brown, beige, etc.
The instrument bin contains two traditional gauges, split by a sizeable 7-inch driver information screen. In front of it is a heated steering wheel.
The heated Zero Gravity seats are upholstered in leatherette (read: vinyl) and are quite comfortable, with the driver’s seat being power-adjustable.
The 8-inch touchscreen in the middle of the dash manages the phone, audio and settings functions. It works well overall, and the user interface is straight-forward for the most part. I found the screen suffered from significant glare issues in sunny conditions, even after trying to adjust the settings.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available, the 6-speaker sound system is decent and there’s a wifi hotspot.
Below the screen is the dual-zone automatic climate control panel and there’s a large panoramic sunroof overhead.
The Rogue comes well-equipped with driver assistance technology. It gets a surround-view camera with outstanding picture and resolution, blind spot monitoring and intervention, rear cross traffic alert and rear braking, emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic high beams, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and prevention and rear parking sensors.
Here is perhaps the Rogue’s biggest trump card. The rear seating is exceptionally spacious. At 5’10”, sitting behind my own driving position, I had about 8 inches of leg room and 3 inches of headroom to spare. Not total – to spare.
Not only that, the middle position is more useful than most as the seat is wide enough to be comfortable and there’s barely a floor bump or tunnel to straddle, so three adults could ostensibly fit here on more than an emergency basis. It’s a great space for two passengers, even for long road trips. The seats have a second reclining position.
Rear passengers get manual side sunshades, the outboard seats are heated and there are adjustable air vents and USB-A and -C plugs at the back of the centre console. The middle seatback folds down to become an armrest with two cupholders.
There are ISOFIX child seat anchors on both sides, allowing for two seats for little ones.
I liked the nice angled and rubberized drop-in bin at the front of the console – there are USB-A and -C ports as well as a 12V plug above it. Under the centre console is an open pass-through storage bin accessible from both front seats.
The armrest lid opens clam-shell-style, and reveals a smallish but deep bin. There are a small glove compartment and door pockets too.
The trunk is accessed via a power liftgate, and is quite large at 1,115L. A couple of little storage bins and a retractable, removable tonneau cover are included.
The rear seats fold almost flat in a 60/40 split and that makes for a very big 2,098L space.
Under the Hood
There’s one engine choice for the Rogue – a 2.5L 4-cylinder putting out 181 HP and 181 lb.ft of torque, minor bumps up from the last Rogue engine. It’s paired with a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) and an all-wheel drive system.
The combination is rated at 9.2/7.2 L/100km (city/highway) and we averaged 8.5 L/100km, which is great for a sizeable all-wheel drive crossover.
I really like this new Rogue, but if I had to pick something that would warrant some more attention, it would be the powertrain. The engine provides enough oomph off the line, to be sure, and for normal around town puttering, it’s fine. It definitely runs out of breath once you’re on the move though, and passing on the freeway or highway can get interesting as it takes some time.
Compounding those issues is the CVT. I am generally not a CVT fan – some are better than others though. This isn’t one of those. The transmission continues the old-school CVT tradition of the rubber-band feeling when you step on it, paired with moaning and droning until the engine drops back down to cruising RPMs. I don’t like it. You get used to it, but it’s not my preference. The gear selector is pretty unique, but it works well once you get used to it.
There are several driving modes to choose from – Auto, Eco, Sport, Snow and Off-Road. Thankfully the Sport mode makes things feel significantly snappier. You use a dial on the console to pick your mode.
Handling is decent, although it includes a bit of body lean around corners. It’s a well-planted crossover though, and the ride is very comfortable and smooth.
Short of the powertrain noises under acceleration, we found the Rogue to be impressively quiet, even at highway speeds.
Braking is fine and visibility out of the vehicle is very good.
The Rogue’s doors, front and back, open super wide to almost 90 degrees, making ingress, egress and putting little ones in a joy.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was pretty high. She liked how smooth the driving experience was, and the CVT issues that drove me crazy didn’t bother her.
This is a most vicious vehicle category – the stakes are high, and the competition is fierce. The new Rogue has plenty to offer, with great new styling, plenty of tech, comfort and utility with a highly refined ride and noise levels (other than when you’re accelerating). But there are a ton of other competitors waiting to eat its lunch in terms of performance (you’ll find more power with most manufacturers) or efficiency (there are hybrids available). The Rogue settles in the sweet spot, offering a solid balance of everything and sitting at a reasonable price point – and that makes it competitive in my books.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Nissan Canada.
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