The 2021 Nissan Rogue is another milestone towards better days. Nissan is undergoing a difficult transformation in the aftermath of a multidimensional crisis.
The departure of Carlos Ghosn, the former, CEO who had served for almost three decades was a story that made headlines globally. This story deserves another article and we will not go into deeper details here. Also triggered by Ghosn’s departure, the more-than-thirty-year-old Renault-Nissan Alliance underwent some strategic changes in the last two years and obviously, the effects of Covid-19 were important too. With further global consolidation in the automotive industry, keeping and strengthening the Alliance (Mitsubishi is also onboard, though as a smaller player) is more vital than ever.
In the last couple of years, Nissan, as one of the two main players of the Alliance and a 90-year old legendary company, focused solely on gaining market share in North America. Sadly, in the end, Nissan not only lost money but also market share: In the US market, its share dropped 8.4 percent in 2017 to 7.2 percent in 2019.
This downward trend must now change under the new leadership. According to the revised strategy of the Alliance, the North American market will be more important than ever for Nissan. And to change the course, great products are vitally important. Fortunately, Nissan seems to understand this well. The compact sedan Senta, ( https://www.autoandroad.com/2020/11/2020-nissan-sentra-sr-cvt-appealing/) that we tested a few weeks earlier was a bold step toward a fresh portfolio of high-quality vehicles. And the new Rogue, the subject of this review, promises to be another desirable product Nissan can sell profitably. With the new, higher range Leaf Plus https://www.autoandroad.com/2020/12/2020-nissan-leaf-plus-significantly-better/ we also tested in late 2020 and the upcoming Aria, the electric crossover Nissan is better equipped also on the BEV front.
In our previous articles, we repeatedly underlined the importance of the compact SUV segment. And it is not an exaggregation that the Rogue is the most important single vehicle determining Nissan’s fate.
The 2021 Nissan Rogue, our tester was a pre-production series vehicle manufactured in Japan. We had a problem with the control of the tailgate, which we had to switch off. Preproduction vehicles may have problems like this that can be fixed easily. It doesn’t change our quality perception about the new Rogue.
With this third generation, Nissan made a radical change in exterior design. The organic, fluid shape of the previous Rogue is over. The new Rogue has more angular, straight lines putting functionality over form. It simply translates to more passenger and cargo room without increasing the outer dimensions. I personally loved the design, because it has its own character and harmonious in its components: From the front grill, the fenders, doors and the tailgate. One advantage of this design is better visibility.
Engine and Powertrain
Although the impression is otherwise, Nissan does not offer an entirely new powertrain. A revised version of the previous gen’s 2.5L, 4-cylinder non-turbo engine powers all the versions. With a new exhaust manifold and variable intake valves, this engine now generates 181 horsepower and the same amount of torque, 181 pound-feet. More impressive is the CVT transmission with much better calibration. In the first few meters, I even thought that Nissan switched to an old-school, planetary gear system. The new CVT shifts significantly more smoothly and is less intervening.
There is no doubt that Nissan raised the standards significantly when it comes to interior quality. The materials and build quality are closer than ever to the premium class even for a non-luxury brand. In our opinion, Mazda sets standards and like other brands, Nissan could not be silent. The digital and configurable instrument panel and the big infotainment screen are not only modern and elegant, but the system is also less-than-ever distracting to use too. The centre console with a floating part underneath is very functional. Both the front and rear seats and comfortable although we did not have a chance to test them on a long drive. Quilted leather seats are nice and enhance the premium ambiance inside. The front and side visibility are good with thin A and B-pillars and large side windows. The rear doors open 90 degrees and it is easy to enter and exit the vehicle.
The third-row option which was available with the previous generation is gone.
Advanced safety features such as Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Lane DepartureWarning/Prevention, Rear Intelligent Emergency Braking and Blind Spot Intervention are all standard in the Platinum trim and Nissan deserves appreciation for its dedication to safety. On the other hand, we wish we could have a rain sensor as standard, at least with the Platinum trim.
The new, 2021 Nissan Rogue has a solid, composed ride. The engine and the transmission communicate well, at least in middle rev ranges for a naturally aspirated engine. As you rev higher, you feel the lack of some power but this is not a surprise for a vehicle in this class. The shift is unobtrusive. We noticed that the suspension is tuned slightly stiffer than the previous generation, yet still comfortable but much better planted. The all-wheel-drive is standard with the Platinum trim. the Rogue is not meant to be driven under heavy off-road conditions but it is good to have this feature especially in Canada. The sound insulation is another improvement of the new Rogue and remarkable especially on highway drives. Regarding fuel consumption, after a 10-day, mixed-mode test drive, we reached an average of 9 litres, which is impressive for an AWD, compact SUV.
We were also satisfied with Continental ceContact winter tires that provided a comfortable ride with relatively less noise.
Pricing and Specifications
Our tester, with Platinum trim and AWD, has an MSRP of C$ 39.998. This price is fair and competitive. For pricing and detailed specifications, please see the window sticker below:
With the new 2021 Rogue, Nissan is now in a better position, since it offers a product that can confidently compete with strong rivals such as, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV 4 and Mazda CX-5. Already one of the best-selling products in the segment, we will follow up with the Rogue and can expect even the best value proposition in its class.
Now, I am excited to see and test the new Pathfinder, another key product for Nissan which is due for replacement in 2021 and will carry many design elements of the Rogue.
For more information, please visit: http://www.nissan.ca
Article by Varol Mc Kars
Photos by Dan Gunay