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2021 Nissan Rogue: Another top pick in the compact SUV segment

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2021 Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

It’s not often that I say this, but the 2021 Nissan Rogue is damn near perfect. I liked the previous generation model a lot, but the changes they made for this all-new vehicle smoothed out any rough edges.

Because we’ve already covered the cool new tech features, I won’t spend a lot of time rehashing this information, so I’m going to jump right into why I think this compact SUV is so great.

Design with personality

It seems like a lot of today’s vehicles are carbon copies of the latest, greatest thing, so when you catch them out of the corner of your eye, you’re hard pressed to name the make and model without closer scrutiny.

The 2021 Rogue does a nice job of breaking the swoopy, curvaceous mold by adding some hard lines and a more upright stance. It looks like an actual utility vehicle and not merely an oversized wagon with big tires.

The interior is more on the minimalist side of the spectrum with intuitive buttons and an easy-to-use touchscreen infotainment system. I was particularly enamored with the digital display cluster that offered two different design configurations and a multitude of informational display options.

Excellent driving position

As someone on the petite side of the spectrum, I found the 2021 Rogue had one of the best driving positions I’ve experienced lately. The thin A-pillars and large windshield and side windows give a wide-open view of the road, and I was surprised by the lack of blind spots. I usually have to bob and weave around mirrors and pillars, but I didn’t have to do that in the Rogue.

Add in the Zero Gravity seats, and bam! Comfort and visibility for the win. Frankly, I’m not sure there’s another vehicle out there I’ve driven recently with as good of a driving position.

2021 Rogue

The 2021 Nissan Rogue has available wireless CarPlay. (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

Peppy acceleration

I’ll admit I’m typically not a fan of a continuously variable transmission (CVT), so I wasn’t sure what to expect on the 2021 Rogue in terms of driving dynamics. However, this transmission paired to the 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine is a pleasant surprise.

Acceleration was everything I wanted it to be – both in city and highway driving – and that’s straight from someone who’s more on the aggressive side of things. The passing situations were actually smile worthy because I always got the right amount of power at just the right time to blow past the offending slower vehicle.

Another thing I appreciated about the Rogue was its ability to handle the Chicago potholes without much teeth clattering. Yeah, you felt them, but they were muted, and the ride feel was on par with a more lux-level vehicle.

Overall, I found the Rogue to be nimble in city situations, yet solid and planted on the highway. That makes this a very adaptable vehicle whether you’re an urban, suburban or rural driver.

2021 Rogue

The 2021 Nissan Rogue has available rear-seat climate controls in the Platinum trim. (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

The Platinum trim

For the first time Rogue gets a Platinum trim. If you can afford it, you want it. My test vehicle had this trim and topped out at $38,310, including the destination. The only option were the protective floor mats for $385.

In addition to beautiful quilted Nappa leather seats, this trim adds all the cool technology available on the 2021 Rogue. So, think ProPilot Assist with NaviLink, around-view camera display, 12-inch behind-the-wheel gauges, wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless charging.

One note: If you noticed that I left wireless Android Auto off the list, that’s because it’s not yet available on Rogue. So, you’ll have to wire in for that.

2021 Rogue

The 2021 Nissan Rogue gearshift (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

Picking nits

There really wasn’t much I didn’t like about the 2021 Rogue, but if I had to pick some nits, I do have a few things I can point to – but most of them are things I’d get used to over time. The first one: The push button ignition is a bit of a reach. On day one it struck me as really weird, by the end of the test week it still felt a bit awkward but tolerable. The second one: The gearshift knob is really big and bulky. It’s almost bigger than my hand – my whole hand. So, that makes the grip a little cumbersome for someone with petite hands.

Other than those two things, I get a bit irked when there’s no camera delay option that keeps the around-view camera display on when you move from reverse to forward. Yes, there’s a button you can push to turn on the cameras, but – especially in parallel parking situations – I just want it to stay on so I don’t have to interrupt my parking flow.

2021 Rogue

2021 Nissan Rogue (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

The bottom line on the 2021 Rogue

The base trim of the 2021 Rogue is the S, and it starts at $26,900, including destination. It’s really well equipped with standard safety and wired-in Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. You’ll also get the same great engine and driving dynamics.

At the end of the day the compact SUV segment has a lot of contenders, including some other great vehicles we’ve tested such as the Mazda CX-30 and Honda CR-V. So, Nissan really needed to knock this all-new Rogue out of the park to stay competitive. Thankfully, they did.

Related posts:

2021 Nissan Rogue: The 5 Most Important Things To Know

2022 Nissan Pathfinder: Ding, dong the CVT is dead, 5 other things you should know

2022 Nissan Frontier: Damn, this looks good

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Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is a syndicated automotive writer. Jill also manages the “Drive, She Said” blog for ChicagoNow and posts reviews to DriveChicago. She is the president emeritus of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization. She also serves as a judge for the Automotive Heritage Foundation Journalism Awards. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the Chicago Sun-Times News Group and Pioneer Press Newspapers.

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