2021 Nissan Rogue Aims to Stay on Top

“This is an incredibly important vehicle for us,” Nissan’s Jared Haslam says of the redesigned CUV.

Steve Finlay, Contributing Editor

June 15, 2020

4 Min Read
2021 Rogue main art (2)
Rogue competes in a crowded middle CUV segment with nearly 30 entrants.Nissan

Sarah Palin as a 2008 vice presidential candidate popularized the term “going rogue, writing a best-selling memoir of the same name. For Nissan, going Rouge means keeping its best-selling midsize CUV in high office.

“This is an incredibly important vehicle for us,” Jared Haslam, Nissan North America’s vice president-product planning, says of the redesigned ’21 Rogue. “It is in the biggest segment, and Rogue is our best seller.”

Mike Colleran, senior vice president-Nissan U.S. marketing and sales, adds: “Rogue is playing to win.” He cites an “ideal mix of expressive design, advanced technology, safety, comfort and versatility.”

2021 Rogue cockpit.jpg

2021 Rogue cockpit

Although Nissan has lost market share in recent years, the Rogue is one of its bright spots.

The Japanese brand recently has rolled out a resigned Altima midsize sedan and Sentra compact. But those are cars in what’s increasingly becoming a CUV world. That’s where the action is, and that’s why the Rogue, which debuted in 2007, is so important to Nissan.

“A lot of blood, sweat and tears” went into developing the model that goes on sale this fall, Haslam says during a media video conference.

It competes in a crowded segment with nearly 30 entrants including the Chevrolet Blazer, Ford Edge, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe, Toyota Highlander and Subaru Forester. Collectively it’s a 3.6 million-unit sector in the U.S., according to Wards Intelligence. Rogue’s cut of that is about 300,000.

Nissan redesigned the vehicle to largely appeal to older Millennials with families. That demographic group wants a stylish vehicle, multi-functionality, intuitive technology and, above all, safety, Haslam says. “That’s the No.1 priority. We heard that over and over.”

The CUV will come in four trim levels, including a new top-line Platinum grade.

2021 Rogue grille.jpg

2021 Rogue grille

Here is a rundown of vehicle highlights:


The new model adopts signature Nissan design elements, such as a “floating” roof, V-motion grille and “U-shape” bodyside highlights.

New multi-level LED headlights with an expanded illumination area are standard.

The body is slightly shorter and lower than the outgoing model.

Aerodynamic features include an active grille shutter to control air flow into the engine compartment, special A-pillar shaping, underbody covers to manage air flow under the vehicle and an “air curtain” that precisely directs air flow from the front to the sides.


It is designed as a “family hub,” with comfort and utility for both front- and rear-seat occupants, Haslam says.

Vehicle access with the Nissan Intelligent Key has been expanded to the rear doors, as well as the front.

The rear doors open extra-wide to nearly 90 degrees, making entering, exiting and stowing easier.

The second row features include standard reclining NASA-inspired Zero Gravity low-fatigue spinal-support seating and available heated seats.

The rear cargo area is accessible through the newly available motion-activated tailgate. Rogue’s redesigned Divide-n-Hide system offers hidden and secure storage.


The new Rogue is the latest Nissan to feature Nissan Safety Shield 360, standard across the lineup. The system includes Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning, High Beam Assist and Rear Automatic Braking.

The CUV offers Nissan’s innovative Intelligent Driver Alertness technology and Rear Door Alert as standard equipment.

Also available are Blind Spot Intervention and Traffic Sign Recognition. Intelligent Cruise Control is part of the available ProPILOT Assist system.

Rogue was among the first vehicles to offer Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist, a hands-on, driver-assist technology.

It combines steering assist and Intelligent Cruise Control to help control acceleration, braking and steering in both heavy traffic and on the open highway.

The system has been improved using next-generation radar and camera technology to provide better braking, steering-assist feel and detection performance.

“The radar range is longer, and that enables smoother braking through earlier application,” Andy Christensen, a senior technical manager, says at the media briefing.

2021 Rogue top view.jpg

2021 Rogue top view


There is a full-color 10.8-in. head-up display (one of the largest in the segment), 12.3-in. “Digital Dashboard” gauge cluster and a 9-in. touch screen display.

In the instrument panel is an available digital meter display with specially designed background graphics to enhance image quality and contrast.

Also offered are Google Maps and Waze. They come with voice commands to help drivers switch between apps to access their preferred view of route conditions.


There is one engine: a 2.5-L DOHC inline 4-cyl. engine with Nissan’s Direct Injection Gasoline system. Horsepower is rated at 181, an increase of 11 hp. Torque is increased by 6 lb.-ft. (8 Nm) to 181 lb.-ft. (245 Nm).

The new engine includes mirror bore coating, a variable displacement oil pump, an integrated exhaust manifold and e-VTC intake.

2021 Rogue engine.jpg

2021 Rogue engine

Driving Dynamics

Vehicle Motion Control works in conjunction with the available enhanced Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system and Drive Mode Selector to provide four-wheel individual control, enhancing line traceability through corners. The system applies braking to smooth out cornering.

The chassis control module monitors and adjusts engine, transmission, Vehicle Dynamic Control, AWD and steering functions. For front-wheel-drive modes, a switch on the console controls three drive modes: sport, standard and eco.

AWD models also come with off-road and snow modes.

The enhanced Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system uses a new electro-hydraulic controlled clutch as well, which can control torque more accurately and quickly by predicting front wheel slippage, making torque distribution to the rear more responsive.

About the Author(s)

Steve Finlay

Contributing Editor, WardsAuto

Steven Finlay is a former longtime editor for WardsAuto. He writes about a range of topics including automotive dealers and issues that impact their business.

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