2021 Nissan Rogue vs Rogue Sport
Are you trying to decide which Nissan to buy this model year? You might be having trouble discerning between the 2021 Nissan Rogue and the 2021 Nissan Rogue Sport, so let us make some clarifications in this comparison review. And, despite how similar they might seem, we think that most buyers will prefer one over the other. The one that we think will appeal most to buyers is none other than the freshly revamped Rogue.
For 2021, the Nissan Rogue is all new, marking the beginning of its third generation. Inside and out, the Rogue is an entirely different vehicle - and that is a very good thing indeed. Its exterior and interior styling cues are much more in-line with what we expect to see on contemporary SUVs in this segment. This is undoubtedly one of the most popular small SUVs, and the new line-topping Platinum trim level gives you a head-up display, a digital instrumentation panel, heated rear seats, quilted stitching on the upgraded leather upholstery, and a wireless charging pad.
The Rogue offers you a lot of standard features for the cost. The ProPilot Assist - Nissan's bundle of advanced driver aids - now has adaptive cruise control that is linked with the vehicle's navigation system, which helps the vehicle slow down appropriately for upcoming curves in the road. All of the features found in this bundle are easy to use and work as they should. The riding performance benefits from a retuned transmission, lighter bodyweight, and a more powerful2.5-L V6 engine. The Rogue offers a comfortable ride from the compliant suspension, and the cargo area is downright cavernous (not to mention highly versatile).
There are a few problems with the new Rogue though. Even at highway speeds, too much wind and road noise make their way into the cabin. The Rogue's top rivals are better insulated from exterior noise. They also have some more spacious rear seats. The only tech-related qualm we have is that the voice controls do not recognize natural speech pattern with ease. Otherwise, the list of tech features is immense and is user-friendly.
The Rogue Sport is an off-shoot of the Rogue, so you will notice some similarities. But there are definitely differences too. The new Rogue Sport features 17-inch wheels on the base S trim level. Also, the SV now comes with standard heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and fog lights. Other than that, though, not much has changed for the model year since the first generation of the Rogue Sport was introduced in 2017.
The pros are thus: a larger-than-average cargo space, a lot of maneuverability thanks to its smaller stature, and a ton of Nissan's latest and greatest technological features. In other words, it is a lot like the Rogue. However, its base engine is terribly underpowered and noisier than what we would like. And the 19-inch wheels create a bumpier ride with their short side walls. And, unfortunately, the Rogue Sport's front seats are nowhere near as comfy as the Rogue's for long trips.
Size and Styling
The 2021 Nissan Rogue is a small SUV that is able to seat up to five people. New for the model year are a slew of styling changes, including sleeker signature LED headlights that punctuate the redesigned front fascia. The base trim starts you off with 17-inch wheels, and the SV upgrades you to 18-inch alloy wheels. The SV Premium package can be added on to include a panoramic sunroof, roof rails, a power liftgate, and sun shades on the second row windows. The largest wheels you can get are the 19-inch wheels on the SL trim level.
The 2021 Nissan Rogue Sport is, of course, quite similar in terms of size and style. The Rogue Sport's name is kind of misleading since it actually is not the sportier version of the Rogue. The Rogue is sportier than the Rogue Sport! The Rogue Sport is just the smaller version of the Rogue. And its engine is also smaller, so you do not get as much power. Stylistically, it is hard to tell the difference from the outside, but you will feel it once you get behind the wheel.
The 2021 Nissan Rogue is much more pleasant to drive than the outgoing 2020 model. The steering has a more appropriate amount of bulk to it, whereas before it was too light and floaty, creating a sense of disconnect between the road and the driver. The steering is responsive to your input, and the handling remains composed while rounding through turns. It just is not that sporty.
The powertrain is somewhat sluggish in everyday driving scenarios. It can get from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 9.2 seconds on the all-wheel drive variant. That is a fairly average time for this segment, so it is nothing too exciting. If you push the gas pedal down halfway, the response feels lackluster. It just does not respond with enough power to really get this vehicle up and moving. This means you will need to plan your merges and passes on the highway.
At least we can say that the Rogue's cargo area is quite generous. If you plan on hauling bulky items around, the Rogue has an assortment of clever ways to transport your stuff. The two-tier cargo management system known as Nissan's Divide-N-Hide makes storing smaller items simple, and the dual-panel cargo floor means that you can drop the rear seats down to create a perfectly flat load floor. Putting them in that position creates 74.1 cubic feet of cargo space in all, which is one of the most sizable cargo spaces you can find in a small SUV.
The 2021 Nissan Rogue Sport is a misnomer. There is nothing sporty about it. The Rogue Sport is powered by a smaller engine than the Rogue - a 2.0-L 4-cylinder that only generates a power output of 141 hp and 147 lb-ft of torque. The Nissan Rogue Sport handles turns and tight spaces well enough thanks to its diminutive size, but the ride itself is sluggish and uninspiring. The steering is too vague to inspire any confidence and is akin to what you would have gotten on the old 2020 Rogue. Also, take note that this vehicle needs a hefty 10.2 seconds to get up to 60 mph. This is Prius-slow, folks.
Again, though, we have to give credit where credit is due. Nissan knows how to craft a utilitarian interior. The cargo area is especially spacious, giving you 22.9 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats left in place. Folding them down - and they do fold flat as well - gives you even more space for bulky items.
Comfort, Options, and Performance
Nissan is all about comfort, and it shows in both the Rogue and the Rogue Sport. The Rogue is immensely cozy with its soft, supportive, well-sculpted front seats. Even the rear seats offer plenty of lumbar support and a reclining features. The ride quality is comfortable, even on the 19-inch wheels. The suspension is tuned to dispatch any type of bump that the wheels incur. There is, however, a moderate amount of engine noise when pushed to accelerate and a significant amount of wind and road noise while zipping along on the highway. We would expect a vehicle that emphasizes comfort so well otherwise to be a bit more muted. At least you can opt to get a well-functioning tri-zone climate control system on the SL and above - a rare find for this class.
Looking to upgrade? Consider getting one of the packages that come with bundled options. The SV Premium adds the panoramic sunroof, roof rails, power liftgate, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, second-row sunshades, and faux leather upholstery. The SL Premium gives you front and rear parking sensors, a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system, built-in navigation, a 10-speaker Bose premium sound system, voice controls, and wireless Apple CarPlay.
The Rogue makes driving easy. Getting in and out is simple enough as the doors swing out to almost a full 90-degree angle. The wide, airy cabin design makes this space feel bigger than it actually is. Aside from some head space lost in the rear seat (which will only really impact people taller than 6 feet), space abounds. Blind spots are moderate, and the rear view is slightly obstructed by thick roof pillars, but blind spot monitoring and a rear-view camera can help combat those issues.
All in all, the Rogue is one of the more tech-friendly small SUVs in its price range. The ProPilot Assist bundle is superb, and all but the base trim come with four USB ports for plugging in your devices. The availability of wireless CarPlay and a wireless charger on the line-topping Platinum trim level is also a rarity for this class. The new 9-inch touchscreen display shows bright and attractive graphics that are easy to follow along with. The only issue? The voice controls could do better at recognizing natural speech patterns.
So, how does the 2021 Nissan Rogue Sport stack up here? It just doesn't. The seats lack the same amount of support as the Rogue's, and the overly stiff suspension creates a too-firm ride quality for everyday city driving. The 19-inch wheels only serve to exacerbate this issue. Wind and road noise are mostly suppressed, but the engine is constantly moaning and groaning.
The cabin might be small, but it makes the most of what it has. Only tall drivers will notice the low seating position. Heads and legs have plenty of space otherwise. Getting in and out is easy thanks to the wide door openings and low ride height.
The Rogue Sport could do with some tech upgrades too. Its center screen is somewhat low-resolution, and the audio quality suffers. The 6-speaker Bose sound system on the SL gets good bass through the subwoofer but a lot of distortion through the speakers at higher volumes. The standard touchscreen is not too small, but it should be situated closer to the driver for easier access and clearer visibility.
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Both the Nissan Rogue and Rogue Sport come equipped with a slew of standard safety features. Among them is the ProPilot Assist bundle of advanced driver aids. They come standard on each trim level, so you get them no matter which trim you buy. Forward collision mitigation will warn you of an impending frontal collision and will apply the brakes to prevent it from happening. Lane departure warning will alert you if the vehicle starts straying over the line, and the blind spot monitor comes with a rear cross-traffic alert that signals you when something is in the Rogue's way while you are in reverse. The rear passenger safe exit system is there to help prevent occupants from opening doors into from-behind traffic. Also, the rear automatic braking system will apply the brakes if it detects a potential collision with a vehicle behind the Nissan.
Upgrading in trim levels can add on keyless entry and ignition, lane departure mitigation (which gently steers the vehicle back into its lane when it drifts), adaptive cruise control, and a 360-degree surround-view camera system that provides a top-down view of everything immediately surrounding the Nissan. The head-up display is also pretty nifty since it projects important driving info onto the windshield right in front of your eyes.
Which Model to Choose?
The 2021 Nissan Rogue is clearly where the better deal is at. This new generation of the Rogue is downright inspiring and should shake up the competition a bit. Unfortunately, the Rogue Sport could use quite a few of its upgrades. The Rogue Sport is misleading in many ways, which is a shame since the regular Rogue is actually quite pleasant to drive. Do not confuse the two; the regular Rogue is much more enjoyable to drive.