Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC inline 4-cylinder
Transmission: XTRONIC CVT w/manual mode
Torque: 181 lb.-ft.
EPA rating: 25/city, 32/highway, 28/combined
Base price: $28,740
As tested: $30,220
Overview: The 2021 Nissan Rogue is new this year, and the changes go beyond new styling. Its major improvements include a more potent powertrain, revised and improved chassis, and upgrades to infotainment technology and driver safety. The 2.5-liter inline-4, while new to the Rogue, is a Nissan stalwart. A CVT is once again the featured transmission, with front-wheel drive standard and optional all-wheel drive, which powered our test vehicle and on which this review focuses. Standard equipment includes automatic emergency braking, active lane control, automatic high beams, automatic rear braking and blind-spot monitors. Adaptive cruise control is optional, as is navigation that works in tandem with the safety features slowing down the car for curves and exits.
Walkaround: The Rogue 86’d its former look for the current, more squared-off, slimmer style — which also adds more interior space. The new Rogue enlarges the grille but keeps the distinctive chrome band around it. Bordering the grille are new daytime lights and headlights seemingly borrowed from recent Hyundai models.
Interior: The Rogue’s primary interior advances are improvements in design, material quality, technology and comfort — landing Nissan’s popular crossover on equal footing with its competition. Our test driver featured an 8-inch touchscreen with smartphone capability, but the Platinum trim gets a 9-inch touchscreen, giving the Rogue the largest in its class. Our test driver offered Apple CarPlay and Android Auto via a wired connection, with wireless CarPlay optional on the Platinum. Our SV-trim tester boasted power-adjustable seats with lumbar support. They’re comfortable enough for long trips, although the large center console steals some right-leg stretch-out room. Rear-seat passengers enjoy 38.5 inches of legroom, with improved hip, shoulder and headroom as well. Cargo space behind the second row is the same 39.3 cubic feet as previously. Folding down the seatbacks reveals 74.1 cubic feet — adding 4.1 from 2020.
Behind the wheel: The new Rogue performs about the same as the old one, but the redesigned version bests its predecessor in ride quality, drastically reduced road noise and a more refined and upscale driving experience. Handling has been noticeably sharpened and the steering feels more direct than previously. Its 181-horse four-banger still feels pretty perky thanks to the revised CVT.
Bottom line: The 2021 Nissan Rogue is spacious and well-equipped, and has good gas-mileage ratings. Our test driver Rogue SV offers the best combination of features and value.