2021 Nissan Rogue SL: Elevating the Compact SUV Experience

The compact crossover sport utility vehicle market is booming and that’s no surprise. These models have largely replaced the family sedan, offering similar five-person seating, better cargo space, and decent trailering.

Among the best-selling models in this segment is the Nissan Rogue, which launched its third generation for 2021. We’ll take a look at this model, particularly the highlights to help you as you make your purchase decision.

See Also2023 Nissan Rogue Review

2021 Nissan Rogue SL Review

Fully Redesigned

2021 Nissan Rogue SL
The 2021 Rogue is available in S, SV, SL, and Platinum trims with standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive. Prices range from $25,750 to $36,930; destination, taxes, and tags are extra.

From top to bottom and front the inside to the outside, the 2021 Rogue is all-new for this year, launching this SUV’s third generation. Its footprint is close to the previous model, but the design with its upright pillars, slightly wider body, and better use of interior space yields a more comfortable model for five.

The lighting arrangement upfront takes some getting used to, but it supplies a look that is at once sporty as it is elegant.

Inside, Nissan worked diligently to provide a more refined interior with better materials and a smarter layout. We think it’s a winner all around, especially on the top-end Platinum trim where the look is elevated.

Roomy Interior

2021 Nissan Rogue SL

Speaking of the roomy interior, this crossover seats five in comfort. Not many compact models can hold three comfortably on the second row, but the Rogue pulls it off. Move away from the base S trim and the driver’s seat gains 8-way control with lumbar assist. Both front seats are comfortable.

The rear seat legroom is satisfactory for average-sized adults, supportive, and is also comfortable. Finally, the two outboard rear seats come with full LATCH connectors for child car seats.

Spacious Cargo Room

2021 Nissan Rogue SL
The Nissan Rogue seats five. The seat materials range from premium cloth to imitation leather to leather-appointed with available quilt stitch.

The overall dimensions of the 2021 Rogue are slightly smaller than the previous model, but the cargo space is improved, particularly with the rear seat folded. The standard space measures a laudable 39.3 cubic feet, which is the same as before.

But with clever reconfiguring, the total cargo area behind the first row increases from 70 cubic feet to 74.1 cubic feet and that’s outstanding.

Also, take note of the two-tiered storage floor that can drop down to hold deeper storage. It’s the kind of arrangement we like when moving groceries that we don’t want to slide everywhere.

One Powertrain Choice

Nissan found a winning formula in the Rogue, by offering just one powertrain choice. While some competitors offer two or more, that hasn’t hurt Rogue sales at all. Under the hood is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine with 181 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque.

Power routes to the front or all four wheels utilizing a continuously variable transmission. Although this is a winning choice for Nissan, some customers may be looking for more. Decent acceleration goes only so far, but the comfortable ride and the relatively quiet cabin are strong offsets to average power.

Fuel-Efficient Crossover

Crossovers aren’t particularly fuel-efficient as the added weight and high profile typically puts them at a disadvantage to similar-sized sedans. The Nissan Rogue, though, manages quite well with its engine and powertrain.

Consequently, the EPA estimates are noteworthy – 27/35/30 mpg city/highway/combined for the front-wheel-drive model and 26/33/29 mpg city/highway combined for all-wheel drive. Take 1 mpg off the totals for the upper trims.

Still, we find these numbers impressive. Importantly, our real-world testing parallels these estimates. By the way, all-wheel drive adds $1,400 to your cost.

Excellent Safety Record

We’re taking a bit of a leap here ahead of the official release of the IIHS and NHTSA crash test ratings, but we believe the Rogue will notch top scores from both entities based on its previous record. Regardless of the final scores, the 2021 Rogue offers a long list of driver-assist safety equipment, placing it near the top of the segment.

For standard equipment, you’ll find automatic high beams, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, automatic rear braking, and rear door alert. On the options list are adaptive cruise control and ProPILOT assist, the latter offering a gateway to autonomous driving.

Lots of Tech Features

2021 Nissan Rogue SL
An available 9-inch touch-screen display dominates the center stack.

Just as safety is an important consideration, the Rogue’s tech features do it service. Here, you’ll find a standard 8-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility, two USB ports, Bluetooth, a four-speaker audio system, and satellite radio.

Move up through the trims and such features as wireless Apple CarPlay, a wireless charging pad, 9-inch touchscreen display, navigation, two rear USB ports, and a Wi-Fit hotspot. A 12.3-inch digital instrument panel is another option to consider.

Competitive Set

The Rogue has no lack of competitors. In fact, some manufacturers offer two or more vehicles that are typically scattered across multiple brands.

Besides Nissan, the two other top sellers are the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V. Each of the domestics are well represented too with the Jeep Compass, Ford Escape, Buick Envision, GMC Terrain, and the Chevrolet Equinox offered.

Other models to consider in this segment include the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Volkswagen Tiguan, Subaru Forester, Hyundai Tucson, and the Kia Sportage. That’s a dozen direct competitors for the Nissan Rogue and we don’t include similar non-utility vehicle models such as the Kia Soul.

Our Recommendation

2021 Nissan Rogue SL
A motion-activated liftgate comes with the SL and Platinum trims.

Our test model was the Rogue SL and we think it’ll interest buyers with its generous equipment list. The only trim we don’t recommend is the S as it is too basic. On the other end of the spectrum, the Platinum is now its own trim level, thus you’ll pay handsomely to acquire one.

Choose the Rogue SV with front-wheel drive and you’ll get many of the amenities customers want. Yet, if you live where snow conditions prevail, then opt for the all-wheel drive: it’s a $1,400 upgrade.

At this level, we’d go with the Premium Package, which represents a $2,660 upgrade. You’ll pay just over $31,000 to acquire one, including the destination charge. Look for company-backed incentives to lower your final cost.

2021 Nissan Rogue Specifications

Nissan 2021 Rogue
Segment Compact SUV
Price Range From $25,650 to $36,830
Destination Charge $1,095
Standard Engine 2.5-liter, I4
Horsepower 181 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 181 @ 3,600 rpm
Transmission CVT
Seating 5
Curb Weight (pounds) 3,371 to 3,633
Wheelbase (inches) 106.5
Length (inches) 183.0
Width (inches) 72.4
Height (inches) 66.5
Headroom (f,r…inches) 41.1, 39.2
Legroom (f,r…inches) 41.5, 38.5
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) 57.1, 55.9
Hip room (f,r…inches) 54.1, 53.4
Storage (cubic feet) 31.6/36.5; 74.1
Gross vehicle weight (pounds) 4,486 to 4,619
Towing (pounds) 1,350
Payload (pounds) NR
Fuel regular
Fuel Tank (gallons) 14.5
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined) 27/35/30 (FWD); 26/33/29 (AWD)
Manufacturing Plant Smyrna, Tennessee

See Also – Preview: 2021 Nissan Rogue Crossover

Nissan Rogue photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.

Matthew Keegan

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