Review update: 2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum shifts upmarket

The Nissan Rogue has been playing the value card for well over a decade, but the compact crossover took a sharp upscale turn this year to be more than just your Uber driver’s ride.

Redesigned for 2021, the Rogue has stiff competition from the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, and Mazda CX-5. Each offers unique selling points ranging from plug-in or hybrid powertrains to impressive driving dynamics. The Rogue doesn’t.

The 2021 Nissan Rogue has a middle of the pack TCC Rating of 6.7 out of 10. It wins with great packaging, an upmarket Platinum model, a smooth powertrain, and comfortable seats, but its infotainment system is limited, rear visibility is hindered, and where are the powertrain options?

I spent a week with the 2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum taking the kids to school, running errands, and just living a normal suburban family life to determine where it hits and misses. Here’s what I learned.

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

Hit: Great packaging for the family

Parents take note: The Rogue was made for you. The big rear doors swing open a full 90 degrees. This makes getting the kids in and out of the rear seat and strapping them into their car seats a breeze. It also gives kids a big area to climb into on their own should they want to show you how big they are. Inside, there’s stadium-style seating with the rear seat mounted slightly higher than the front seats. This gives those in back a great view of what’s going on up front. The rear cargo area has panels that flip up and can make it so partitions are erected to keep things from sliding around.

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

Miss: Rear vision is a challenge

From the front seats the Rogue offers a great view of what’s coming thanks to thin A-pillars, but the rear D-pillars where the liftgate meets the sides are thick and obstruct rear views. The Subaru Forester offers better rear visibility thanks to its larger rear glass window.

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

Hit: Smooth powertrain

Every Rogue is powered by a 2.5-liter inline-4 with 181 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) sends power to the front wheels, though my tester featured the $1,400 all-wheel-drive system. The inline-4 and CVT combination provided just enough power and smooth delivery of said power. The CVT wasn’t buzzy or annoying, and it simulated gear shifts unless the accelerator was pinned to the floor. In every day driving the powertrain blended into the background as it should in a vehicle like this.

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

Miss: No powertrain options

The 2.5-liter inline-4 and CVT are adequate, no more, no less. But competitors offer options and the Rogue doesn’t. Where’s a turbocharged model? Nissan’s testing the waters with a 1.5-liter turbo-3, but it’s not putting a ring on it, yet. There’s no hybrid model. There’s no plug-in hybrid model. Why is there one single powertrain option here?

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

Hit: Great digital gauge cluster

Automakers are shifting to digital gauge clusters that mostly just look like analog displays, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why. It’s a missed opportunity. Ford’s started to figure it out with the F-150 and Genesis is doing better than BMW, but Nissan nailed it with the Rogue’s available 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. It’s easy to read, shows information ranging from vehicle information to trip information, and doesn’t try to mimic analog gauges. The tachometer and speedometer roll like power meters while the vehicle’s speed is shown in numbers. It’s great.

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum

Miss: Lackluster infotainment system

The saving grace for the Rogue’s infotainment system is the wireless Apple CarPlay and smartphone charging setup, which worked flawlessly. The infotainment system’s interface allows the user to customize the home screen, but none of the functions are what someone really wants. Who wants a massive analog clock on the homescreen? Does anyone actually use built-in navigation systems anymore? Waze for the win, thanks. Because, unless you’re going to rely on the system’s navigation function, the home screen options are somewhat useless. Also, the vehicle settings can only be adjusted in the gauge cluster instead of the touchscreen infotainment system. It’d be easier to scroll through the large touchscreen than clock through the steering wheel controls.

My 2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum had a price of $39,685, which seems a bit crazy for a Nissan Rogue. Yet we live in a world where there’s a RAV4 that costs nearly $50,000, without my Platinum tester’s quilted leather interior, soft touch materials, and terrific packaging. These things combined with the smooth powertrain make for a far more enjoyable daily driving experience than a Toyota RAV4. It’s a shame that a hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrain isn’t on the options list, especially at $40,000.

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2020 Nissan Rogue Platinum

Base price: $26,745
Price as tested: $39,685
EPA fuel economy: 25/32/28 mpg
The hits: Looks good, great packaging, lovely digital gauge cluster, smooth powertrain
The misses: Lacks powertrain options, mediocre infotainment interface, limited rear visibility

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