The Nissan Rogue is an incredibly hot-selling crossover SUV, in abundance at pretty much every intersection in America. Now there’s a new Rogue, and you should pay attention, because the 2021 Nissan Rogue will be everywhere before you know it. But still not in hybrid form.
The Nissan Rogue is one of the top ten best-selling vehicles in the United States, and it’s a huge deal for the struggling Japanese automaker. “This is an incredibly important vehicle for us,” Nissan North America’s vice president of product planning Jared Haslam, said of the new vehicle according to Wards Auto. “It is in the biggest segment, and Rogue is our best seller.”
I totally get why it’s been the company’s best seller. It’s cheap, reasonably fuel efficient, safe, and fairly handsome. Here’s the outgoing model, which has been around for a long time, having debuted in 2013 for the 2014 model year:
The new model switches things up a bit, following what seems like a trend of mainstream cars adopting wacky faces (see Toyota Camry, Chevy Silverado), springing up after the double-stacked lights of the Nissan Juke made abnormal the new normal. It seems a bit odd that an automaker would move towards polarizing a vehicle that’s known for its unoffensive looks, but that seems to be what Nissan has done with the Rogue:
I’ll leave it to my colleague Jason Torchinsky to do a full design breakdown of this new crossover, but I myself prefer the outgoing car’s round, sportier profile and more distinct front headlights to the new car’s upright shape and four big lights at the nose.
As for the rear end, I actually think the new Rogue looks great, though I fear the departure of that heat exchanger-looking thing over the muffler.
It’s actually a diffuser, and I am a bit obsessed with it:
The new Rogue is 1.5 inches shorter and sits two tenths of an inch lower than its predecessor. It’s outfitted with a tweaked version of the outgoing car’s 2.5-liter direct-injected inline-four now producing 181 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of torque over the 2020 model’s 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft. Refinements, Nissan says in its press release for the all-new Rogue, include: “mirror bore coating, a variable displacement oil pump, and an integrated exhaust manifold and e-VTC intake valve.”
Surprisingly, the Rogue—Nissan’s best-seller—hasn’t been offered in hybrid form since the 2019 model year, and the new generation isn’t changing that (at least, initially). The Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Toyota Rav4 can all be had in electrified form, so it’ll be interesting to see if the new Rogue has provisions for a truly competitive hybrid system, or if Nissan will ignore the hybrid market entirely with this new vehicle. I’ve reached out to Nissan to learn more.
The new Rogue’s four-cylinder internal combustion engine is mated to an “Xtronic” continuously variable transmission, which sends power to either just the front wheels or to all wheels. Nissan says it’s made changes to the suspension design (this is a new platform, after all) and power steering setup, and the company says a new electro-hydraulic clutch in the all-wheel drive system yields quicker torque transfer to the rear axle when the front tires slip.
The Rogue’s most dramatic change isn’t just to the exterior. Inside, the car looks significantly more modern, with an electric shifter. A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster replaces the old-school gauges surrounding the five-inch display in front of the previous car’s steering wheel; a larger, higher-mounted “floating” center display (nine inches versus the outgoing seven inch display, which was integrated lower into the center stack); and a new drive-mode selector with options “Off-road, Snow, Standard, Eco and Sport.” Plus, the new Rogue now offers a head-up display for the first time.
Other changes include a three-zone climate control setup (one for each occupant up front, one for the rear passengers), rear doors that now open 90 degrees, a “butterfly” center console that opens from the center in part to “[allow] for easy ‘pass-back’ access to the second row,” and a proximity key that now lets you press buttons on the rear doors to unlock the car (and not just the front doors).
Nissan also talks a lot about driver-assist features, such as Propilot Assist, which basically combines adaptive cruise control with lane-keep assist. Nissan says it has enhanced the Rogue’s Propilot Assist system by linking it to Nissan’s navigation setup, allowing for things like “proactively [reducing] speed for upcoming freeway curves or junctions and also help the driver slow for freeway exits.”
You can read more about the new Rogue’s many driver-assist features on Nissan’s website, and you can read a more detailed design breakdown later when my coworker Jason spills liquid brilliance from his brain.
Update June 15, 2020 2:20 P.M. ET: A Nissan spokesperson replied to my question about whether there might be a hybrid variant of the Rogue coming in the future. Unfortunately, the answer amounts to “no comment”:
We do not comment on future product plans. The 2021 Rogue will launch next fall with just one powertrain a 181-horsepower Direct Injection 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, matched with an Xtronic transmission.