The most popular Nissan sold in the US, the Nissan Rogue small SUV has been totally redesigned for 2021, riding on a new platform, adding a Platinum trim, more connectivity, and new safe driving features.
Rogue last had a major design change seven years ago, and last year during the pandemic it accounted for one of every four Nissans sold among Nissan’s entire 17-vehicle lineup.
The third-generation 2021 Rogue will do battle among 37 small SUVs with Toyota Rav-4, Honda CRV, Chevy Equinox, and Rogue, the current top sellers.
2021 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Review
Our test drive was the Rogue SL all-wheel-drive armed with six options costing $3,080, including a $1,320 Premium package with safe driving features, traffic sign recognition, parking sensors, a 9-inch elevated dashboard screen, voice-activated navigation, and BOSE audio.
The SL sits above the S and SV trims and below the new top-trim Platinum.
Roughly the same size as its predecessor, the stylish redesign features a flatter front end with new LED lights, chrome spears beneath the doors, and chrome window surrounds.
With 35% high-strength steel and a strut front and new multi-link rear suspension with double-piston shock absorbers, the ride was composed with Active Ride Control smoothing out rough pavement.
An all-new Vehicle Motion Control predicts driver behavior by monitoring steering, acceleration, and braking, automatically helping when needed. A new Intelligent Trace Control sharpens handling in tight turns.
All Rogues use a new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that feels underpowered but the trade-off is the excellent gas mileage. Standard, Eco, Off-road, Snow, and Sport drive modes alter the drivetrain appropriately with Sport providing some peppiness.
Nissan’s highly touted Safety Shield 360 now includes rear seatbelts with pre-tensioners and a rear-seat reminder system.
Our upgraded ProPilot Assist included extended adaptive cruise control, surround parking sensors, and Navi-link to improve navigation map data, although voice recognition was spotty at times.
Inside, the classy and family-friendly cabin is spacious with numerous storage cubbies, including under the center spine, comfortable leather seats, and folding rear seats that expose a configurable and top-tier cargo area.
Wood accents and stitched leather upholstery create a sophisticated-looking interior under a panoramic sunroof. The touchscreen displays sharp graphics with intuitive icons to seek needed data and navigation with Nissan Connect.
Rear seats get two USB ports and window sunshades.
Rogue has received top crash safety and high-reliability scores in the past. Visors fully extend and there is a spare tire.
At a Glance
LIKES: Spacious, comfort, reliability, versatility, mileage, ride, handling
DISLIKES: Spotty voice recognition, low engine muscle
BOTTOM LINE: Its size and competitive pricing overcome slow acceleration
Fact File: 2021 Nissan Rogue SL AWD
2.5-liter, DOHC, 4-cylinder inline
181-hp at 6,000 rpm
181- lbs.-ft. at 3,600 rpm
Continuously variable w/manual paddles
25 city, 32 highway
14.5 gallons, regular
0-60 in just over 9 seconds
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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.