2021 Nissan Rogue heaps on style and tech (but leaves a big question)

The 2021 Nissan Rogue has made its official debut, and if you thought the old midsize crossover was immemorable, this brand new version could fix that. Sharper, crisper, and generally more eye-catching on the outside, the 2021 Rogue borrows some of Nissan's recent concept car flourishes, like its new headlamps. They're paired with a more dramatic V-motion grille.

Multi-level LED headlamps – that both look better and cast wider illumination – are now standard across the range. The 2021 Rogue SL and Platinum get LED fog lamps, too.

Overall, the crossover is 1.5-inches shorter and 0.2-inches lower than its predecessor, bucking the typical industry trend of vehicles getting bigger with each successive generation. More striking still, there'll be new two-tone exterior color combinations, five of them in total.

Inside meanwhile, Nissan has focused on raising its materials and design game. Partly that's about the quality of the plastics and other trim, but it's also about more tech and options available. You can have heated front and rear seats, for example, as well as heated side mirrors and a heated steering wheel. There's a two-driver memory seat, too, while Nissan Zero Gravity seats are both in the front and the rear.

Leather comes standard on the Rogue SL, upgraded to quilted semi-aniline leather on the Platinum trim. There are three color schemes – Charcoal, Gray, and Tan – while the center console now has more storage underneath it thanks to Nissan switching from a mechanical shifter to an electronic version. There's also optional remote fold for the rear bench, while you can also have a motion-activated liftgate.

Push-button start, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, and SiriusXM are all standard. Navigation comes standard on the Platinum grade and is an option on the Rogue SL; the Platinum also gets a Bose Premium Audio system. NissanConnect comes standard on SV trim and above, and wireless CarPlay will be an option shortly after launch.

A 10.8-inch head-up display is optional, and there's also either a 7-inch or 12.3-inch driver display depending on trim level. An available 9-inch touchscreen can be had in the center console. Wireless charging (15W) is available, while front USB Type-A and Type-C charging ports are standard.

Nissan Safety Shield 360 is standard regardless of trim, with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure waring, high-beam assist, and rear automatic braking. The Intelligent Around View Monitor 360-camera is an available option, as is Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Automatic Braking.

As for the drivetrain, there'll be a 2.5-liter DOHC inline-4 gas engine as standard. That has 181 horsepower – 11 hp up on the old Rogue – and 181 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is available, with Vehicle Dynamic Control adding Off-road and Snow modes to the front-wheel drive 2021 Rogue's Standard, Sport, and Eco modes. No sign of electrification, mind, despite all Nissan's big talk about pursuing EVs in a major way.

New for the 2021 model year is ProPILOT Assist with Navi-link, standard on the Rogue Platinum and valuable on the Rogue SL. It builds on the ProPILOT Assist's adaptive cruise control and steering assistance – which is getting new radar and camera hardware, for smoother braking and better cut-in detection, among other things – with navigation integration. That way, the system can automatically reduce speed when there's a corner or freeway exit coming up.

The Navi-link version also increases the hold time during stop-and-go highway driving, from three seconds to 30 seconds. The Rogue will automatically pull away as traffic moves again, without the driver needing to tap the gas pedal. It also uses traffic sign recognition to automatically change the speed setting as the posted limit for the road goes up or down.

There'll be four trims in total: S, SV, SL, and Platinum. Nissan says it'll confirm pricing for the 2021 Rogue closer to its on-sale date in fall 2020.