2021 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Review by Matt Barnes

The Rogue is Nissan’s top selling vehicle. Therefore Nissan knew that any changes made would have to be done with precision. Nissan has a noteworthy plan to introduce 10 new models over the course of 20 months and the Rogue is part of that plan.

Quick Take

Nissan has been struggling the past few years, but we are hoping these new updates to nearly all their models will change that. Helping push the value concept, the Rogue has the most standard safety technologies in its class. This includes Nissan Safety Shield 360, Intelligent Driver Alertness, and Rear Door Alert.

Furthermore, the ProPILOT Assist feature has been upgraded with new radar and camera technology which helps smooth the braking and steering and improves detection of other vehicles on the road. It also has the ability to proactively reduce speed based on curves or junctions in the road.

Rogue Exterior

Similarly to Nissan’s other newly released designs, the Rogue features a floating roof, V-motion grill, and new Nissan badges.


There are three sets of lights on the front end with the daytime running lights up top, the headlights about a quarter of the way down and the fog lights next to the grill opening low in the bumper. Speaking of the bumper, it covers nearly all the front end from the bottom of the running lights down.

The hood has distinct raised ridges near the edges that fade as they run forward and to the center above the grill. This shape appears to be another V similar to the grill.


Reminiscent of the Jeep Cherokee, the running lights swoop along the front quarter panels well above the wheel arch. The body sides aren’t broken up with sharp creases through the center like many other vehicles but has a more subtle round near the door handles. On the lower edge there is a plastic and chrome insert that helps break up the body side.

Additionally, split 5-spoke wheels with black and machined surfaces are a good match for the rest of the vehicle. The black inserts compliment the black floating roof and dark tinted rear windows.


Moving to the rear the body forms another V shape between the taillights but this time it’s inverted. The black floating roof and deep tint rear window are contrasted with the white body paint, red taillights, and grey lower insert in the black bumper.


Nissan knows that having a sleek exterior attracts potential buyers, but that having a comfortable and inviting interior secures those customers.

Front Seats

Stepping into the Rogue is easy. Once settled in, it becomes obvious that Nissan has spent a significant amount of time on the interior.

Starting with the steering wheel, nearly everything the driver needs is easily accessed without removing hands from the wheel. Additionally the climate control buttons are clear simplistic and refined. There is no guesswork trying to find a seat climate or radio control.

The infotainment system protrudes from the dash, which is similar to many other vehicles, but still feels a little out of place. Regardless, the screen is very clear and easy to use.

Shifting into gear is done with a shift lever that returns to a neutral position after selecting the desired gear. Putting it in park is as easy as pushing the “P” on the shift lever.

Just aft of the shift lever is the electronic parking brake and a little behind that is the drive mode selector dial. Consequently, there are five drive modes: Off-road, snow, standard, eco, and sport.

Hidden inside of the center arm rest is a button which changes the color of the ambient lighting in the Rogue. This is the only item that felt out of place as this seems more like a dash button than an inside the center console button.

Rear Seats

Easing into the rear seats we found it to be a little tighter than the front, but still very comfortable and inviting. There are two power ports, one USB A and one USB C along with the rear seat climate control buttons on the back of the center console.

The middle seat has a fold down arm rest with two cup holders and the windows are equipped with sun shades. There is enough room for two car seats in the  back row, but three might be a little tight.

Cargo Area

Toyota’s Rav4 is Nissan’s biggest competitor to the Rogue and as such the vehicles have nearly the same cargo volume. The Rogue has a cargo volume of 36.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 73 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. The Rav4 has about 1-cubic foot more than the Rogue with the rear seats up. However, when the rear seats are folded down the Rogue has 3-cubic feet more than the Rav4. The Honda CRV has slightly more room than both at 39 and 76 respectively.


Of note is that every Rogue is equipped with a 2.5-liter DOHC inline 4-cylinder engine. This engine puts out 181 horsepower and 181 foot-pounds of torque. This is up 11 horsepower and 6 foot-pounds of torque over the previous generation.

Updating the Rogue has made it more responsive and fun to drive. It handles well, remaining firm in the corners, but manages to be smooth on the highway at the same time.

Nissan now has many years of experience working with CVTs and they continue with this development in the new Rogue. With hybrids and electric vehicles being commonplace, we expected the CVT in the Rogue to act like a CVT. However, Nissan still feels the need to add in false shift points so that the transmission simulates a regular automatic. This hurts both power and efficiency and is really unnecessary in today’s world.

Taking the Rogue Off-Road and in the snow

The AWD system uses a new electro-hydraulically controlled clutch which detects front wheel slip quickly and transfers power to the rear as needed.

When heading Off-road we found the system to work well until attempting very steep climbs with large holes. When two wheels lose traction on a steep climb the Rogue just doesn’t have the torque needed to overcome the braking force on the spinning wheels.

It snowed on our last day with the Rogue allowing us to test the AWD system even more.  We are happy to report that the AWD system performed flawlessly in inclement weather. Indeed the system was quick to respond and kept us on our desired path.

Pricing the Rogue

Our test model was delivered before pricing for the 2021 model year had been established. From Nissan’s website the Rogue SL AWD starts at $33,400 but our test model had at least one upgrade; The two-tone pearl white tri-coat and super black paint for an additional $695


There is a reason this class is the highest selling in the United States. Getting into and out of vehicles of this height is easy, there is plenty of space for comfort and cargo, and they aren’t so large that they become difficult to park. The 2021 Rogue is a strong player that should not be overlooked!