By Frank S. Washington
DETROIT – The 2021 Nissan Rogue is a real piece of work. There were high points and low points. The interesting thing was the highs were up there and the lows were not that bad.
Under the hood was a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that made 181 horsepower and a matching 181 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. That was the low; full torque was not engaged at a low enough rpm to give the Rogue some real muscle from relatively slow speeds when needed.
But what really caught our attention was the transmission. It was a continuously variable transmission that Nissan has branded Xtronic. The company has invested a lot of time and money ridding or, minimizing most of the things that prevent CVTs being embraced by the driving public.
It was quiet, even relatively so under hard acceleration. There wasn’t that CVT drone. The Xtronic simulated shifts as well as any transmission of its type that we’ve shifted. It was so good that Nissan also gave this Rogue, a front-wheel-drive SL, paddle shifters.
The Rogue was all new, including a new chassis that allowed for updated technology. Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 was standard across the Rogue lineup. It included automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, high beam assists and rear automatic braking.
That was all good but what we noticed was that the sideview mirrors were mounted on the doors and that erased the blind spot which is significant on most utility vehicles. They also narrowed the A pillar and that created open sight lines. We did not feel cramped.
We also noticed that when stepping out of the 2021 Rogue we were up higher than it appeared when we got in the vehicle. That high seating position subtly helped our sight lines as well.
This was an easy driving crossover. There was no need to make allowances. There was plenty of speed, this Rogue held its track easily, cornered nicely, the brakes were firm, and the heated front seats were comfortable.
However, we thought the instrument layout looked good but was hard to see. By that we mean there was so much information from side to side and top to bottom it seemed cluttered.
There was a compass that arced between the analogue odometer and speedometer. A narrow band was atop it all with information about the audio, lane status, etc. We did not know it was there. There was a digital speed readout in the center. We’re sure familiarity through ownership will alleviate the what is where paradox. But it seems like it was shoehorned to get all the information read outs and we did not toggle to see what else was there.
Our Rogue was equipped with Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist. It is a hands-on, driver-assist technology that reduces the hassle of stop-and-go highway driving and makes long drives on the open highway easier. ProPILOT Assist combines steering assist and Intelligent Cruise Control to help control acceleration, braking and steering in both heavy traffic and on the open highway. That is what Nissan said, we did not have the occasion to assess it.
Our test vehicle had a panoramic roof that let loads of light into the interior. When we got in the back seats, there was lots of head room and leg room. The floor was almost flat and that meant that three people could get back there and ride in relative comfort.
We thought the quality of materials used in the back were the same as those used in the front. The seats were comfortable, and the door panels were soft. We also thought the shade screens on the side windows were a nice touch.
Although the liftgate was power. But just the driver’s window went up and down automatically. There were LED lights all round, roof rails, and the premium package included navigation, a premium sound system, and a nine-inch color display.
Of course, there were voice controls and satellite radio. It was keyless operation, and we were pleased that it was a four-door intelligent, er, key. With that, push button start and stop is an appendage.
There were three drive modes: sport, standard and eco. It had remote start, leather seats Type A and C USB plugs in the front and in the rear. And it had tri-zone climate controls.
Most impressive about our 2021 Nissan Rogue SL FWD was its $36,220 sticker as evaluated.