As Nissan’s number one selling vehicle in North America, the Rogue has a key part in the overall success of the brand. In a segment where it challenges the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, just being competitive is considered a win. Nissan needed some good news this year after plunging sales, behind the scenes drama at the corporate level and increased competition. Enter the 2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum on test this week – is this the vehicle that can turn things around for this storied manufacturer?
After a glut of products relying on dated platforms, Nissan brought us the all new Sentra earlier this year and it truly was an eye opener. This one product reminded journalists and consumers what Nissan can do when they put their hearts into it. The 2021 Rogue ups the ante in several different areas that make it more than just adequate in this segment; it actually exceeds what Honda and Toyota have at the moment.
Let’s get my biggest gripe about the 2021 Rogue out of the way. The 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine. There have been tweaks that have improved smoothness and given it a slight power bump, but this is a more substantial vehicle than the previous model. With just a driver and lone passenger up front, the Rogue feels peppy. Load it up and it starts to feel strained and lethargic. Honda has used forced induction to give the CR-V some pep and Toyota has more than one engine option if more power is needed.
Nissan’s sole engine choice, a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder, pumps out 181 horsepower at 6,000RPM and 181 lb-ft. of torque at 3,600RPM. Surprisingly, the CVT does a fantastic job paired with this engine; the rubber band effect and drone that has been complained about before is much improved and only during heavy acceleration does any noise make an appearance. Luckily, the engine in most conditions is much peppier and responsive than the numbers would like you to believe.
Handling is also much improved over the previous generation. The Rogue isn’t going to give the Mazda CX-5 a hard time when the roads get twisty but for a daily commuter, it gets the job done and done well. Steering response is quite good, with decent weight to the wheel; Nissan was able to achieve the improved handling with a weight reduction of around 40 kilograms and updates to the chassis, multi link rear suspension and stability control system. Passengers are not going to feel tossed around when hitting the uneven roads.
The exterior has also improved; several passersby commented on how the front end design of the lights and grill are reminiscent of the Hyundai Kona. Considering how well that vehicle sells, that may not be a bad thing. The 2021 Rogue is longer and wider than ever before; it easily dwarfs rivals like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. The design is clean overall and non-offensive which is a safe bet in this segment.
The interior of the new Rogue is where Nissan has gone to town, and it only starts at the sheer quietness inside. It’s one of the quietest in the segment as the front windshield uses acoustic glass and more sound deadening material throughout. Very little wind noise comes through the windows at highway speeds. Manual sunshades in the rear keeps prying eyes away while stuck in traffic, and a massive panoramic sunroof allows natural light in throughout the cabin.
Materials used throughout are a grade above most of its competition with the exception of the Mazda CX-5. Even the harder plastics feel much improved from the previous model year, and our Rogue Platinum was equipped with the upgraded quilted Nappa leather which is a nice touch. The two tone dashboard and brushed aluminum material used on the bezel around the shifter is an added bonus.
In this segment, the ability to comfortably seat passengers and carry cargo is key to success. There is ample head and leg room in the rear, the middle floor hump is minimal and feet have plenty of space under the front seats. Behind the second row, Rogue owners will see 1,028-litres of space behind the second row seats, sightly behind the RAV4’s 1,059-liters. Put the second row seats down and the Nissan leaps past the RAV4 with 2,064-litres versus 1,977.
Technology wise, our Rogue Platinum gets an exclusive 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. The screen is customizable with whatever information you may need but as if that were not enough, you also get a heads up display and eight-inch infotainment touchscreen with Nissan Connect. The 360 degree camera is excellent when looking around and the quality of the screen is top-notch. It’s a shame that the built in navigation system graphics look straight out of the late 90s, something Nissan has not been able to overcome.
On the safety front, the Rogue is equipped to protect occupants. All models come with Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection and Intelligent Driver Alertness. The Platinum model here also includes Intelligent Round View Monitor, Intelligent Lane Intervention, Intelligent Cruise Control, ProPILOT Assist with Navi-Link and Front, Rear & Side Sonar System. In addition, a middle airbag is standard between the driver and passenger to prevent heads knocking during a side impact. A segment first.
Fuel economy on the 2021 Nissan Rogue is rated at 9.2L/100km city and 7.2L/100km highway for a combined 8.3L/100km on the all-wheel-drive models. The front-drive Rogue is rated at 8.9L/100km city and 7.0L/100km Highway for a combined. 8.1L/100km. During a week of numerous trips in a mix of stop and go traffic, we achieved 9.4L/100km.
Prices for the 2021 Nissan Rogue start at $1,000 more than last year’s model at $28,498. Our top trim Platinum comes in at $39,998 and has no options or packages available. The 2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum the prime example of a vehicle right at the top of its segment. It won’t provide the get up and go of a forced induction engine, but as a family hauler that provides class leading technology, safety, interior comfort and space, the Rogue can’t be beat.