2021 Nissan Rogue Review

All-new for 2021, with more aggressive styling and an impressive cabin.

4 months ago
Ron Sessions
  • Fresh styling
  • Spacious second row
  • Upscale interior
  • Innovative technology
  • Lackluster powerplant
  • Average driving dynamics

The 2021 Nissan Rogue is a five-passenger compact crossover sport-utility with a lot to offer buyers looking for value, roominess, fuel-efficiency and now aspirational style along with the latest safety and infotainment technology. First introduced 14 years ago and now in its third generation, the Rogue offers a wide range of trims including an all-new luxury Platinum model and a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The 2021 Nissan Rogue starts at about $26,000.

Rogue Exterior

The Rogue is all-new for 2021, featuring a handsome, squared-off design that’s more robust-looking than last year’s model. In addition to a deeper, more expressive V-Motion grille the upper edges of which segue into strong creases running along the hood to the base of the windshield pillars, the Rogue brings particularly fetching LED headlamps and wraparound, high-mounted daytime running lamps that catch the eye. Even though the new, third-generation Rogue now sports a more chiseled look and adopts some of the rugged appearance of truck-based sport-utilities, it remains based on Nissan’s lighter, more fuel-efficient passenger-car components.

Alloy wheels are standard on all trims with 17-inchers on the base S, 18s on the midlevel SV and 19-inchers on the top-level SL and new Platinum model. Despite the new Rogue’s car-based chassis componentry, it sports 8.2 inches of ground clearance for the occasional off-pavement trek.

2021 Nissan Rogue Review

Rogue Interior

The Rogue’s exterior may be eye-catching, but its cabin really sets the bar among compact crossovers for design excellence. It’s a pleasant place to spend time, with upscale, soft-touch materials in areas cabin occupants interact with like the dash, console and upper door trim. Switchgear is a class above, as if lifted from the Infiniti parts bin, with tactile feel and precision movement. A new, shorty electronic shifter opens up console space with added storage under the console, in the doors and under bomb-bay doors under the console armrest.

Nissan’s NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats, both up front and in the rear, deliver excellent spinal support for long slogs. Cloth covers the seats in S and SV models, with leather coverings in SL and buttery-soft quilted semi-aniline leather in the Platinum model.

2021 Nissan Rogue Review

Nissan’s NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats, both up front and in the rear, deliver excellent spinal support for long slogs. Cloth covers the seats in S and SV models, with leather coverings in SL and buttery-soft quilted semi-aniline leather in the Platinum model.

Front and center is a full-color driver-configurable meter display measuring 7 inches in S, SV and SL trims and a full 12.3 inches in the Platinum. Matching that intensity is a center infotainment display perched atop the dash with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto cellphone mirroring. Measuring 8 inches in S, SV and SL trims and 9 inches in the Platinum, the screen is high-resolution with large touchscreen tiles, redundant analog volume and tuning knobs and voice and steering-wheel controls. Imbedded navigation is included with the 9-inch screen plus an upgrade from the base audio to a rockin’ 10-speaker Bose system.

Entry to the three-passenger, 60/40 split folding rear seat is via large doors that swing open nearly 90 degrees for easy ingress and egress.

Cargo space is a class-appropriate 74.1 cu. ft. with the rear seat folded down. A dual-level cargo floor in SL and Platinum adds about 5 cu. ft. of hidden storage. 

2021 Nissan Rogue Review

Rogue Powertrain

As is the norm in the compact crossover segment, the Rogue is powered by a four-cylinder engine. The sole engine choice is a non-turbocharged 2.5-liter (181 hp/181 lb-ft of torque). Nissan recommends regular unleaded fuel which compared to premium unleaded required by some other automakers saves a few dollars with each fill up. The engine is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission, which automatically selects the best ratio for every driving situation. Steering wheel paddles allow the driver to manually select ratios when desired. This powertrain combination delivers EPA-estimated fuel economy of 28-30 mpg in combined city/highway driving, depending on configuration.

Front-wheel drive is standard on all trims with all-wheel drive a $1,400 upcharge. The 2021 Rogue is capable of light towing up to 1,350 lbs. No hybrid or plug-in hybrid variants are available.

2021 Nissan Rogue Review

Rogue Driving Experience

Despite its newfound rugged appearance, the 2021 Rogue drives much the same as a modern midsize sedan, albeit one that’s taller with a better view of the road ahead and roomier for all of your stuff. Thanks to a boost in horsepower compared to last year, the new Rogue can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just over 8 seconds, more than a second quicker than the 2020 model and with enough zip to keep up with traffic. On a recent test drive to Texas, we had no problem achieving and maintaining the 75-mph posted speed over vast stretches while delivering an average 32.9 mpg. The engine is sufficiently isolated from the interior, so noise isn’t an issue even at higher speeds.

The Rogue’s four-wheel independent suspension delivers good control of vertical body motions and a pleasant ride without undo impact harshness over a wide range of road surfaces. A new, more-direct rack-mounted electric steering provides pleasing precision on the highway and quicker response in turns. Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes have good top-of-pedal response and reassuring stopping power.

Standard with all trims is Vehicle Motion Control which works with the traction control system to apply a single brake when necessary to help the Rogue take corners easier and with more precision.  

2021 Rogue Trim levels and Pricing

For 2021, the Nissan Rogue lineup has been expanded to four trims: S, SV, SL and Platinum. The base Rogue starts at around $26,000 and the top trim at about $35,000. All are available in front- and all-wheel-drive versions, the latter with a $1,400 upcharge:

  • S FWD/S AWD (starts at about $26,000) – This is the base model with cloth seats and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
  • SV FWD/SV AWD (begins at around $27,500) – Adds standard niceties like ProPilot Assist, a power driver’s seat, Wi-Fi hotspot and adaptive cruise control.
  • SL FWD/SL AWD (starts at $32,000) – Upgrades to leather seats and steering wheel, a power moonroof, hands-free lift gate and more.
  • Platinum FWD/Platinum AWD (begins at about $35,500) – Loaded model with quilted leather seats, Bose stereo, wireless Apple CarPlay, navigation and more.

If you are looking for a more accurate idea of pricing, you can build and price a Rogue on Nissan’s official web site.

2021 Nissan Rogue Review

Rogue Best Features

Aside from the new Rogue’s gorgeous interior, comfortable Zero Gravity seats, rear seat manual sunshades and on Platinum models the untethered convenience of wireless Apple CarPlay, the ability of the traffic sign recognition feature and Pro Pilot Assist to automatically adjust the set speed of the adaptive cruise control is notable. The system not only reduces the vehicle’s speed in posted construction zones and congested areas but also returns to the set speed afterword without having to lift a finger.  

What is Our Favorite Version of the Rogue?

Our top choice is the SL trim, which includes leather seats and steering wheel, heated power front seats, tri-zone climate control, a moonroof and hands-free liftgate for about $3,500 less than the range-topping Platinum. If you can’t live without Bose audio, navigation or wireless Apple CarPlay, those and more features can still be added to the SL in an option pack. Stick with standard front-wheel drive unless you live in a region where it snows, where we recommend the all-wheel drive upgrade.

2021 Nissan Rogue Review

Rogue Notable Safety Features

As with most mainstream crossovers today, the Rogue comes standard with a long list of standard safety tech, including blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring, front auto emergency braking, and lane-departure warning. But notable Rogue features the many competitors don’t have are rear automatic braking, a driver alertness monitor, three rear-seat child-seat latch points, a rear door alert and rear sonar parking alert.

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has yet published crash test ratings for the 2021 Nissan Rogue. 

2021 Nissan Rogue Review

Who Should Buy a 2021 Nissan Rogue?

There are good reasons the Rogue has been the third best-selling compact crossover and the top-selling Nissan in recent years. The Rogue offers what a lot of buyers want, offering roominess, comfort, practicality and for 2021 aspirational design in an attractive package for about the price of a midsize sedan. It’s great for growing families who need space for child seats, bikes and sports equipment while delivering good fuel economy and the latest infotainment and safety technology. And the option of four-wheel drive provides the added security of poor-weather traction plus the ability to venture comfortably beyond the pavement’s edge.

CarExpert’s Take on the 2021 Nissan Rogue

With the 2021 redesign, the Nissan Rogue goes from being an also-ran among compact crossovers to one of the best. Not having a hybrid or gas-turbo performance variant holds it back a bit, but particularly in Platinum trim, the new Rogue is so inviting it could pass for an Infiniti model. It’s also just right in terms of size, sliding in between the plucky subcompact Kicks and the aging, midsize three-row Pathfinder. Even the base Rogue S with its extensive list of standard equipment is a bargain at around $26,000.

You can add the 2021 Nissan Rogue to our recommended list. 

2021 Nissan Rogue Review

Rogue Competitors to Consider

  • Chevrolet Equinox
  • Ford Escape
  • GMC Terrain
  • Honda CR-V
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Jeep Compass
  • Kia Sportage
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mitsubishi Outlander
  • Subaru Forester
  • Toyota RAV4

Photos by Ron Sessions


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Show Breakdown
Cost of Ownership 8.4
Ride Comfort 8.3
Safety 8.4
Fit for Purpose 8.6
Handling Dynamics 8.3
Interior Practicality and Space 8.3
Fuel Efficiency 7.8
Value for Money 8.2
Performance 8
Technology Infotainment 8.6