• 2021 Nissan Rogue

The 2021 Nissan Rogue Seems Good — On Paper

But we can’t draw much in the way of our own conclusions because we can’t drive them.

Jim Kenzie By: Jim Kenzie June 19, 2020

Normally, a new vehicle launch involves presentations by the designers, engineers and/or marketers, followed by a ride-and-drive so we can report our findings about what it’s like to our audiences.

In today’s COVID-19-ravaged environment, a group ride-and-drive is pretty much out of the question. So the product presentations have become virtual, using apps like Skype or Zoom. These allow us to learn about, hence report on, what the manufacturers think about their new babies.

But we can’t draw much in the way of our own conclusions because we can’t drive them.

Better than nothing?

Let’s see.

One such event was the recent virtual launch of the 2021 Nissan Rogue.

2021 Nissan Rogue

We were joined by Nissan executives Steve Milette (president), Scott Pak (senior manager, product planning), Marcel Guay (senior manager, marketing) and Adam Paterson (director, marketing).

The compact Rogue has been the MVP on Nissan’s team, leading the company’s sales since 2012.

The third generation will arrive in showrooms this fall.

Prices have not been announced, but given the ultracompetitive nature of this huge segment, they aren’t expected to be much different from the current range, which is $27,498 to $37,998.

Nissan is confident in the styling of the new truck. The “V-motion” grille, a motif seen on other recent Nissans, is perhaps the main differentiator in a field where, frankly, most people would have trouble telling one from another if you took the badges off.

Rogue is pretty much all-new. Increased use of ultra-high-strength steel (from 19 per cent of the body to 35 per cent), aluminum (hood, front fenders, door skins) and composites (tailgate) yield a body that’s 27 per cent stiffer. Yet the finished product weighs around 40 kilograms less, which is even more impressive when you consider the extra equipment on the new model.

The 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, while the same size as before, is in fact a new engine, shared with Altima. It provides 181 horsepower and 181 lb.-ft. of torque.

The continuously variable transmission has been re-engineered to reduce internal friction by 29 per cent, which should improve fuel consumption.

A multi-link rear suspension should benefit both ride and handling.

Rogue offers front-drive models in the two lower trim levels (S and SV). Four-wheel drive is standard in Platinum, and available on the other two grades. It runs mainly as a front-driver, but can quickly send torque to the rear wheels as deemed necessary.

Classier-looking interiors offer more room. Nissan’s justly praised NASA-inspired “Zero Gravity” seats are now fitted front and rear.

Loads of storage spaces everywhere, and one-litre water bottles will even fit in the door pockets.

Although some in this class offer three rows of seating, Rogue remains a five-seater. Each of the rear seats has child safety seat attachment points.

The rear doors open 85 degrees, making the loading of stuff, kiddies and notably those child safety seats much easier.

Privacy shades are available for those rear seats, too — unheard of in this class.

The “divide and hide” trunk allows hiding your valuables. There’s even a spot back there for a 3.7-litre bottle of windshield washer fluid, apparently a Canada-only thing.

Nissan seems particularly proud of the 31.2 inches of total screen in the Platinum trim level in this car.

That’s 12.3 for the digital dashboard, nine for the central display and 10.8 for the head-up display, which of course doesn’t count for me because I always switch them off.

Three-zone AirCon (front left, front right, rear seat) helps everyone stay comfy.

Also available is a magic Bose 10-speaker sound system.

Nissan claims the focus in the inside was on quietness. Wind, road and engine noise have been handled with such as acoustic laminated glass, the stiffer body shell and a thicker insulation pad on the firewall.

Nissan’s nanny systems include emergency braking forward and backward, something called “cut-in” protection (somebody must drive on the 401).

With the PROPILOT Assist with Navi-Link in the Premium trim, an auto-resume in the cruise control system will re-accelerate the car even if it has been sitting for up to 30 seconds.

If you drive a lot in heavy traffic, you’re gonna love this.

Nissan pioneered the simulated overhead camera view, which makes parking in tight spots much easier.

Rogue has “tech” covered with a wireless phone charger, a Wi-Fi hot spot, four USB ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, standard on all trim levels.

Nissan will continue to aim Rogue at Toyota RAV-4 and Honda CR-V, which remain two of the bestselling vehicles in our market.

On paper, it looks like it will make a good case for itself.

When we get to drive it, we’ll be able to tell you if it has succeeded.