Going Rogue

Nissan’s compact crossover, an all-new design for 2021, offers style, interior room and comfort at a reasonable price

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The definitions of the word Rogue are few, and none is complimentary. It refers either to an unprincipled person, a person who behaves in an aberrant manner or a large animal driven from the herd.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/11/2021 (396 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The definitions of the word Rogue are few, and none is complimentary. It refers either to an unprincipled person, a person who behaves in an aberrant manner or a large animal driven from the herd.

That last definition seems to apply to the Rogue, which has broken free of the Nissan herd since its launch in 2007, and since 2012 has been the company’s best-selling vehicle in Canada, by a large margin. For the calendar year to the end of the third quarter, Nissan Canada sold nearly twice as many Rogues as its entire car portfolio combined (25,454 Rogues vs. 13,708 cars (even the small crossover Kicks outsells Nissan’s cars, with 14,132 sales)).

So the 2021 model, the latest generation, shows no sign of losing that popularity, and, it seems, looks more like its name would suggest than it predecessors.

Supplied The 2021 Nissan Rogue loses its predecessor’s rounded, car-like appearance and gains a bolder, more rugged exterior styling.

With a bolder, rugged exterior, the new two-row, five-passenger crossover seems to eschew the soft-crossover look and feel of even its most recent progenitor. It carries more cues from the 1980s-era Pathfinder than third-generation Versa and looks like it’s ready to rumble… through cottage trails, at least.

The interior has received an impressive upgrade, as well, with a blend of high-quality materials and an interesting design concept. A large touchscreen handles a variety of functions, from navigation to audio, but, thankfully, the important functions are brought out to actual controls, including the volume control, heating and ventilation controls and driver-assist features (or at least the defeat switch for these features).

Under the hood is a 2.5-litre DOHC four cylinder delivering 181 horsepower and 181 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to an Xtronic CVT and comes as either a front-driver or an all-wheel drive model.

Reliability of CVTs continues to be a question mark and some drivers, myself included, aren’t fans of the feel, but they do typically offer improved fuel economy. Some engineers, however, particularly from competitor Mazda, will say that managing the torque curve of the motor allows for using a tried-and-true automatic transmission while achieving fuel-economy benefits.

CVTs work by continuously varying the gear ratio, as opposed to stepped shifts between gears. Efficient, but can lack a satisfying feel to acceleration.

The Rogue also employs a unique gear shift pattern: instead of the typical Park, Reverse, Drive, there’s a button to engage Park and, counterintuitively, you push the lever forward for reverse, pull it back for Drive. If you’re accustomed to a traditional automatic shift lever, or if you have another car with a traditional lever, the Rogue’s will confuse you, at least initially.

The handling and ride comfort of the Rogue are both very good as compact crossovers go. Interior passenger room is quite spacious, and the cargo capacity behind the rear seat is the most of the Japanese Big 4 (Nissan, Mazda, Honda, Toyota) at 1,113 litres.

The Rogue is also available with a suite of driver assistance features including ProPILOT Assist, which incorporates active lane keeping and, for all-wheel-drive models, a variety of selectable drive modes from snow to normal to off-road.

In the end, the Rogue neither is unprincipled, displays aberrant behaviour or is animal-like in nature, but I suppose Scallywag just has too many letters for the nameplate.

kelly.taylor@freepress.mb.ca

A large touchscreen dominates the dashboard.
The 2021 Rogue is available in front-wheel and all-wheel drive models.
Kelly Taylor

Kelly Taylor
Copy Editor, Autos Reporter

Kelly Taylor is a Winnipeg Free Press copy editor and award-winning automotive journalist. He's been a member of the Automobile Journalists' Association of Canada since 2001.

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