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Nissans are everywhere on the road. People buy Nissans because they can save money while getting a bunch of standard features. Both the 2021 Nissan Rogue and the 2021 Nissan Pathfinder are excellent vehicles, and each has its own benefits. But each have a few drawbacks. One is probably going to appeal to more buyers than the other, although it might be a tough call for some folks to make.
Let us start things off with talking about the 2021 Nissan Rogue. It has been fully redesigned for the model year, and its reception has been quite warm. The front and rear fascia have been overhauled in favor of a more distinctive look. The front end is squared off and more boxy in its shape. The signature LED headlights punctuate this new design with surprising elegance. The all-new line-topping Platinum trim level gets the most interior changes. The old Rogue generation relied too heavily on cheap plastic materials that did not live up to expectations. The new Platinum trim comes with some amazingly high-scale materials. It also comes with ambient interior lighting, a chic digital instrument panel, and quilted leather seats. Border on luxury much? We think so.
Of course, the Rogue still has some drawbacks - some kinks that need to be ironed out. The biggest issue we have with the Rogue is that the cabin lets a lot of wind and road noise in at higher rates of speed. The back seats are also not quite as spacious as some of its rivals. On top of that, you have a voice recognition system that struggles to recognize natural speech patterns.
Still, the Rogue comes with a ton of features for the cost. The ride quality is smooth, and the seats are packed with comfort. The massive cargo area offers a lot of versatility, and the suite of driver aids are all user-friendly. Nissan certainly delivers on technology.
The 2021 Nissan Pathfinder actually does not exist since it is taking a year off in preparation of the 2022 release of the new generation. It is exciting, yes, but that means you either have to choose between the 2020 Pathfinder or waiting for the 2022 line-up. The 2020 Pathfinder features a V6 engine that provides a nice balance between a powerful performance and a thrifty fuel economy. This third-row SUV is accessible and more spacious than some of its counterparts. The extensive towing capacity is also a huge bonus, as are the standard rear sensors and automatic emergency braking feature.
The Pathfinder does have some drawbacks. Its cargo volume is below average for its segment, so you might find yourself straining to cram bulkier items in. Also, if you buy the line-topping trim level, you might not enjoy the too-firm ride quality, which detracts from the otherwise plush comfort level.
Size and Styling
Picking the right size and style of a vehicle can be difficult, especially with SUVs. The Rogue is a small SUV that seats a grand total of five people. Upgrading to the SV Premium package will give you a power sunroof. These SUVs come with roof rails and signature LED front headlights built into the newly sculpted front fascia.
The Pathfinder is a third-row SUV, which means that bigger families can benefit from those couple of extra seats in the rear. They are best left for children and shorter adults, as is the case for most third-row SUVs. However, you can easily access them. You will also recognize Nissan's sleek signature LED headlights punctuating the front grille. They look to be even thinner and more pronounced on the upcoming 2022 line-up, looking more akin to what you see on the 2021 Rogue.
There are things about the 2021 Nissan Rogue that make it more drivable than the 2021 Nissan Pathfinder. Of course, since these are both Nissan SUVs, you should expect to find quite a few similar features equipped on each one. And, honestly, they are both pretty straightforward, so at least your driving experience will not involve much of an initial learning curve.
Overall, the driving performance is vastly improved over the outgoing Rogue generation. The formerly light steering now feels bulked up in an appropriate manner. Although the handling performance might not be as sporty as some of its rivals, it manages to stay composed while rounding through turns and going along on curving mountain roads.
The powertrain is where the Rogue still needs some improvement. When equipped with all-wheel drive, the Rogue has a 0 to 60 mile per hour time of 9.2 seconds. For a base engine in this segment, this is a fairly average time. Nothing too spunky, but it makes do on the highway. Unfortunately, in routine daily driving it feels less than exciting. If you press the pedal down past the halfway mark, you will not get a remarkable surge in power like you might expect. This means that merging and passing other vehicles at higher speeds will take some pre-planning.
As for the 2020 Nissan Pathfinder, its 3.5-L V6 engine does a solid job at mustering up 284 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. Paired up with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), power gets delivered smoothly to either the front two or all four wheels. The name Pathfinder might be a bit misleading though, as its 7 inches of ground clearance do not make it ideal for any off-roading adventures. Adding AWD does make the Pathfinder capable of gliding across slick road surfaces though.
Comfort, Options and Performance
Comfort is something that Nissan knows how to do well, so it should be no surprise that both the Rogue and Pathfinder are packed full of comfort. The Rogue's front seats are exquisitely sculpted for your comfort. Soft but full of support, they will keep you cozy for hours on end. The rear seats are nothing to balk at either. The suspension is well tuned for dispatching bumps from most road surfaces, even when you have the larger 19-inch wheels equipped.
When you get the Rogue up to speed on the highway, you will hear some wind and road noise seeping into the cabin. When pressed for moderate to hard acceleration, the engine gets loud too. The SL and above trim levels come with the optional tri-zone climate control system. It is not something you find in most SUVs in this price range, and it is very adept at keeping both rows of seats feeling warm or cool as needed.
Entering and exiting from the Rogue is easy thanks to its wide door openings. In fact, the doors swing out almost 90 degrees. Although rear leg room can feel somewhat cramped for taller individuals, the cabin feels bigger than it actually is. You will have to put up with the thick roof pillars and smaller glass size, so expect to put the blind spot monitoring system and rear-view camera to use quite often. Overall, you get a crisp interior design. The only thing you might dislike is how the headrests angle forward a little too far for some drivers.
Nissan strives to include a lot of technology on its vehicles. The Rogue is considerably well-equipped. Smartphone app integration is standard across the line-up, as is Bluetooth pairing. Wireless Apple CarPlay and a charging pad come on the Platinum trim level - again, something you do not get on all SUVs in this price range. The list of driver aids is extensive, and the touchscreen display is bright and easy to use. We just wish that the voice controls did a better job of comprehending natural speech patterns.
The Pathfinder has some nicely shaped front seats that can hold up over long journeys. The second row of seats is generous on space, but the third row is best left for kids and smaller adults. The tri-zone climate control feels excellent, as it propels air flow throughout the cabin, hitting all three rows.
We do recommend staying away from the Platinum's 20-inch wheels. The smaller wheels do a more thorough job of dispatching bumps. The 20-inch wheels have short side walls that allow too many bumps from rough road surfaces to pass into the vehicle. It detracts from the Pathfinder's comfort.
The interior design is something Nissan will probably overhaul for 2022, and it is much-needed. The Pathfinder's interior looks dated and cluttered up front. One of the more frustrating elements is the steering wheel mounted controls for the instrument display panel doubling over as the audio controls. It does not make much sense, we know. There are also quite a few buttons placed near the driver's knee, which seems counterintuitive. On top of that, shorter drivers will have a tough time finding a good driving position.
Unfortunately, the infotainment system in the 2020 Pathfinder is vastly outdated, and it does not even support smartphone app integration from Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. At least there is an optional 13-speaker premium Bose sound system to provide you with some good sound quality. But it cannot compensate for the lack of technology.
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Both Nissan models come with a slew of safety features, including Nissan's bundle of advanced driver aids known as Safety Shield. This comprehensive suite features forward collision warning, which alerts you of an impending frontal crash and will apply the brakes for you in order to prevent it from happening. Lane departure warning will warn you if the vehicle starts to drift outside of its lane. There is a blind spot monitoring system with a rear cross-traffic alert, which warns you if another vehicle is about to cross into your path while you have the Nissan in reverse. The rear passenger safe exit system can stop a rear seat occupant from accidentally opening a door into traffic coming up from behind. If there is a potential crash with something behind the vehicle, the rear automatic braking system will apply the brakes to prevent it.
Upgrading to higher trim levels will get you more features. You can get lane departure mitigation, which will gently steer the Nissan back into its intended driving lane. Adaptive cruise control will set a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of the Nissan. Also, there is a 360-degree surround-view parking system that shows you a top-down view of everything immediately surrounding the vehicle. The SL Premium package will give you front and rear parking sensors, and the line-topping Platinum can project vehicle data onto the windshield in front of your eyes via the head-up display.
Which Model to Choose?
Wait until the 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is released if you absolutely need a third-row SUV. It should feature more of the positive changes we saw in the 2021 Nissan Rogue's overhaul. The 2020 Pathfinder falls behind in too many aspects to trump the Rogue. The new generation of the Nissan Rogue is crafted for comfort as well as power. We would definitely recommend getting the Rogue if you only need five seats.