- I tested a $35,275 Nissan Rogue, the carmaker’s top-selling compact crossover SUV, all-new for the 2021 model year.
- The Rogue is Nissan’s most important vehicle in the US, with annual sales that have exceeded 400,000 units.
- The new Rogue has been upgraded in many areas, including the exterior design and infotainment technology.
- The 181-horsepower engine is on the lower end of the oomph spectrum as vehicles of this type go, but it gets the job done.
- The new Rogue has enough of a premium interior character to pick off a few Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V buyers and to defend its position in the ultra-competitive company crossover segment.
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Nissan doesn’t get as much press as Toyota and Honda, its chief rivals, but in many ways, the automaker has more to offer consumers than its compatriots.
Through its longtime participation in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, Nissan was part of the world’s largest automaking enterprise, by sales, in 2018, beating out Volkswagen. As an individual nameplate, it sells everything from the 370Z sports car to the Leaf EV to the Titan full-size pickup, with numerous models in other segments, retailing at a wide range of price points, in between.
Nissan also has a luxury arm, Infiniti, that competes with Toyota’s Lexus and Honda’s Acura, but also with Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Cadillac, and Lincoln.
But if you were to look at all Nissan does, its most important vehicle by far is the Rogue compact crossover SUV. In 2019, Nissan sold 350,00o Rogues in the US — an impressive figure, but down from more than 400,000 the previous two years.
The Rogue debuted in 2007, but it was the second-generation crossover that truly hit the bullseye for Nissan, perfectly timed for a switch that commenced in 2013, with buyers saying no to sedans and yes to compact SUVs. Rogue feasted on that market for seven years, but ebbing sales in recent years indicated that it was time for a redesign.
Nissan could have held the line and given the Rogue a mild makeover, but the company went much farther, basing the 2021 Rogue on a new platform that generates something of an optical illusion: It’s about the same size as the previous generation, but it looks larger.
A compact-plus appearance
Compared with its main competitors, the Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-V, the new Rogue has a sort of compact-plus appearance. Nissan gave a sneak peek a few months ago before loaning me a vehicle to properly test, and my first reaction was, “Wow! Big Rogue!”
That impression was heightened by the fact that I own a RAV4 and could consider the two crossovers bumper-to-bumper. And the new Rogue did indeed seem to be trending toward Pathfinder/Highlander dimensions, even if it’s basically the same size as the outgoing version.
I’ve always been fond of the Rogue and have tested the gen-two vehicle a number of times. My take on Nissan is that it usually offers a more premium