INDIANAPOLIS — “Are you driving the new Volvo out in the parking?” asked my co-worker as he walked into the building. “Nah, that’s the redesigned Nissan Rogue,” I replied. “Looks good!” True that, and it’s easy to understand why the uninitiated might confuse the 2021 Nissan Rogue with a Volvo. Especially in Platinum trim, it’s handsome, luxurious, and loaded with all of the latest safety tech. Sounds like a Volvo, but the window sticker says otherwise.
Clearly my friend noticed the Rogue’s crisp fender creases and accentuated shoulders that certainly recall contemporary Volvos, but a floating roof and square-jaw version of Nissan’s V-motion grille with narrow LED lamps give it distinction. A panoramic moonroof, roof rails, and 19” wheels add class. Look close to realize the Rogue is 1.5 inches shorter and 0.2 inches lower than before, adding to its swagger. Special A-pillar shaping, underbody covers, active grille shutters, and tire deflectors in the lower front facia improve aerodynamics to quell wind noise and enhance fuel economy.
Looking at the array of safety gear on the Rogue, it could be easily be confused with a Volvo. Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, and rear cross path detection with auto brake are a start. There’s also blind spot warning, adaptive cruise, and lane centering steering. Ten standard airbags and extended crumple zones also do their parts to keep whomever you consider family safe.
Passengers are well protected, but I’m really digging the two-tone black-and-camel interior on our Platinum edition too. Comfy Zero Gravity seats with quilted leather accompany contrasting trim on the doors, dash, and flybridge center console. Black woodgrain on the dash breaks up any remaining monotony. Modern conveniences include flatscreen instruments, head-up display, and 9” infotainment touchscreen – the latter to control the Bose audio system and devices through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Wi-Fi hotspot. Wireless charging, heated seats front/rear, heated steering wheel, and tri-zone automatic climate control max the lux.
A turbocharged four-cylinder would have made it better, but the 2.5-liter four-cylinder produces a peppy 181 horsepower and 181 lb.-ft. of torque – all routed to the all-wheel-drive system through a continuously-variable transmission. I don’t love CVTs, which usually rev and vibrate like a scorned weedeater, but Nissan makes the best and this one does a good job of making the Rogue feel quick while delivering a frugal 25/32-MPG city/highway.
Beyond the engine, it’s pretty smooth on the road. It feels a little light in the loafers, but quick steering and a four-wheel-independent suspension combine for mature ride and handling. It twerks through curvy roads and rumbles over rough city pavement without drama. Drivers can even configure their experience with a Drive Mode knob in the console that adjusts the powertrain for Snow, Eco, or Off-road (though, this luxowagon won’t go far into the trail). Too bad the fancy knob conjures no more power.
The fact Nissan’s compact crossover was confused for a Volvo says much about how far the Rogue has come. What was once cheap and ugly is a suave gent in a finely-tailored suit. And, the price has adjusted accordingly. A base price of $26,050 rose to a lofty $39,685, but that’s still considerably less expensive than a comparably equipped Volvo XC60. More grounded competitors include the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, and Volkswagen Tiguan.
Casey Williams is former auto correspondent for WFYI and the Indianapolis Star plus a contributor to the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday Auto Page. He has reviewed vehicles and covered the auto industry for over 25 years. He lives with his family in Broad Ripple. E-mail him at AutoCasey@aol.com; check his reviews on YouTube at AutoCasey.
2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum
2021 Nissan Rogue Platinum
5 passengers, AWD Crossover
Powertrain: 2.5-L I4, CVT
Output: 181 hp/181 lb.-ft.
Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
Wheels f/r: 19”/19” alloy
Brakes f/r: disc/disc
Must-have features: Design, MPGs
Fuel economy: 25/32-MPG city/hwy
Base/as-tested price: $26,050/$39,685