2021 Nissan Rogue: Beautifully Improved

Strong points
  • Great standard content
  • Excellent comfort levels
  • Much quieter now
  • Good handling
Weak points
  • Spongy brake pedal
  • ProPILOT tech still needs work
  • Only one engine and no hybrid variant
Full report

The Nissan Rogue is the fourth best-selling SUV in the country and a very important product for the Japanese automaker. A little more than 330,000 units have landed in Canadian driveways since 2007 mostly thanks to its attractive pricing.

For 2021, Nissan went back to the drawing board and made numerous improvements in order to stay competitive.

First of all, the platform is more rigid, the suspension and steering benefit from revised tuning, while the hood, doors and front fenders are made of aluminum to reduce weight. Same thing for the liftgate, which is made of resin.

Under the hood is the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission. However, the combo has received key upgrades for the new generation. Output is up from 170 to 181 horsepower, while torque has increased from 175 to 181 pound-feet. The CVT is revised for smoother operation.

Great Standard Content

The 2021 Nissan Rogue offers a whole lot more standard content than its predecessor—at a great price, too. Starting at $28,498, the base FWD model boasts features rarely seen under $30k, including a heated steering wheel, keyless start, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control and 17-inch alloy wheels. It also comes with an entire suite of advanced safety and driver assistance systems.

Next up is the Rogue SV at $31,998, which should prove very popular among customers with additions like a panoramic sunroof, 18-inch wheels, roof rails and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. If you want a power liftgate, you’ll need to select the SV Premium package ($2,200).

Finally, the top-line Rogue Platinum AWD retails from $39,998 and includes 19-inch wheels, a large 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, 10.8-inch infotainment display, 10-speaker premium sound system, heated rear seats and tri-zone climate control. This is the one we tested. Starting from Montreal, we headed north up to Mont-Tremblant, a 300-kilometre roundtrip comprised of city streets, suburban roads and mountain highways.

Photo: Julien Amado

More Pleasant to Drive

If you currently own a Nissan Rogue, it’s quite possible that you find the engine noise to be irritating under acceleration. Well, it didn’t take long for us to realize that Nissan engineers have addressed the problem resulting in a quieter vehicle.

Even with the pedal to the metal, the engine is far more discreet this time around. At highway speeds, wind noise and road noise are more effectively neutralized, as well. While the outgoing model was one of the loudest SUVs on the market, the 2021 Rogue ranks among the quietest, which is quite a feat.

Performance is adequate, though not really better than the average in the segment. The newly calibrated CVT makes the driving experience more pleasant. However, the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 are still superior in that department.

According to Natural Resources Canada, fuel consumption is rated at 8.3 L/100 km for AWD-equipped 2021 Nissan Rogue models. The trip computer in our tester read 8.2 L/100 km at the end of the day, so you can take the advertised rating to the bank.

Photo: Julien Amado

More Comfortable Than Most

Thanks to the revised steering, the new Nissan Rogue feels sharper and more responsive on the road—not as much as a Mazda CX-5 or Subaru Forester, but still. Upgrades to the damping system result in livelier handling without affecting ride quality. As a matter of fact, the Rogue is one of the most comfortable SUVs in its class.

The compliant suspension combined with super-comfortable “Zero Gravity” seats make long-distance trips a pleasant experience. After more than three hours behind the wheel, we felt no fatigue or soreness at all.

By the way, the interior of the Platinum model is superbly finished and boasts much higher build quality than in the past. There’s pretty decent space in both rows and the cargo area can be transformed in multiple ways. Too bad the sliding rear bench is no longer available.

Photo: Julien Amado

Even on the twisty roads of the Laurentides region, the Nissan Rogue always kept its poise and handled corners without putting excessive weight on the front axle. Part of the credit goes to the improvements that were made to the rear suspension.

On the other hand, the brakes lack power and responsiveness. The brake pedal is rather spongy, so you have to put a lot of pressure on it to produce the desired stops. This could prove to be a problem when pulling a trailer (max towing capacity is 1,350 pounds).

Also, while the available ProPILOT semi-autonomous driving system is better now than when it debuted a few years ago, it’s still not up there with the best in the industry.

Photo: Julien Amado

Our Verdict

Aside from a few irritants mentioned above, the 2021 Nissan Rogue has made significant strides. It’s quieter, more pleasant to drive and full of standard features, all that at a great price. For many consumers, that combination will be too good to pass up.

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