The 2021 Nissan Rogue was unveiled to the world through a computer screen in unusual circumstances. The global pandemic has manufacturers scrambling to get the word out about their 2021 products, and the Rogue is a key part of Nissan’s plan to get back on track in terms of sales.
Knowing that we would have to at least see the finished product in person before we could give the slightest piece of insight on it, Nissan invited us to a social distance-themed meeting where we were able to get a closer look at the beast itself.
The Rogue was due for a makeover, and Nissan basically made a new vehicle out of it, giving it a remodelled face, a new platform and a strongly polished interior.
It was also upgraded with the 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine from the Altima with 181 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque, which is a 10% power and 3% torque boost compared to the outgoing powerplant.
A Stronger Physical Statement
When we first glanced at the 2021 Nissan Rogue’s more menacing face, we figured the crossover was bigger, as every vehicle in the segment tends to grow when it’s redesigned. However, despite the appearances, the new Rogue is actually 1.5 inches (38 mm) shorter with a 2-inch (52-mm) lower roofline, and yet it boasts about the same passenger volume and more cargo room than before, thanks to the new platform layout.
Speaking of doors, Nissan made it easier for passengers to get in and out of the rear seating area, allowing a door opening angle of 85 degrees, just like on the current Honda CR-V. On the Platinum grade, the proximity key now works with the rear doors in addition to the front ones.
Base variants of the 2021 Nissan Rogue sport standard 17-inch wheels, while the range-topping Platinum is fitted with 19-inch alloys. The new Rogue still features an aluminum hood, but the 2021 model now gets aluminum doors as well. Nissan says that thanks to that and a slew of other changes, the new Rogue is about 90 pounds (40 kg) lighter than the outgoing model.
A Swankier Interior
An online unveiling obviously makes it impossible to evaluate the interior’s feel and comfort, and this event is where we got a chance to do just that. As much as using the industry term “premium feel” sounds overused, the new Rogue makes a case for it.
While the outgoing model’s interior was a plastic paradise, the new one shows a subtle amalgam of textures and materials found in not-luxury-but-premium vehicles. It’s a significant fit and finish upgrade. And according to Nissan, all trim levels get the same “feel,” with basically just the infotainment screen size that changes.
We were already familiar with Nissan’s Zero Gravity seats which are pretty comfy, and Nissan installed them in the rear of the Rogue, an offering only available in the Murano until now.
Space management has been improved as well, with the new shift-by-wire setup that creates a storage point under the centre console. Meanwhile, the cargo area gets more options, like a grocery mode where a panel splits the cargo area so your bags don’t roll around when driving out of the shopping mall parking lot.
Doubling Down on Safety
The 2021 Nissan Rogue comes with 10 airbags as standard, but the Platinum trim gets an eleventh bag between the front occupants so they don’t hit each other in the event of a collision. The usual Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite is included in all trim levels, which rounds up autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning and high beam assist, among other things.
Nissan is putting the ProPILOT Assist semi-autonomous driving system in the hands of more drivers, as it’s now available on the SV trim in addition to the Platinum. It also receives a few operational updates for smoother steering input and acceleration. The Platinum trim also gets Navi-link, which enables data to be shared between the navigation and ProPILOT Assist, proactively slowing the vehicle down for freeway curves and exits ramps.
Is the 2021 Nissan Rogue geared up to defy the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4? It’s tough to say at this point. It has slightly less power than the CR-V and a much smaller trim and powertrain lineup than the RAV4, for example. Either way, we’re looking forward to this fall when Nissan’s popular compact crossover will go on sale, and at that time we’ll take it for a drive to see if it has the substance to gain market share and bring home the bacon Nissan needs the most at the moment.