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The 2021 Nissan Rogue is now available with a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine. The change gives the Rogue a much-needed increase in fuel economy. The Rogue has been trailing in popularity. Can this new engine option turn sales trends around?

Nissan Rogue pilot program to test new technology

Car and Driver reports that Nissan will not widely release the new engine option initially. Instead, the automaker will test the smaller option in a limited release. The 1.5-liter three-cylinder is part of a small test program that Nissan hopes will inform future additions to the Rogue lineup. By launching a small release, the company risks less while gathering valuable data.

While the pilot program has been confirmed, very few details are available. Nissan declined to say how the program will roll out. It’s unclear which markets will receive the limited option or how many units will be manufactured. If the new Rogue performs well, we could see more vehicles adopt smaller, more efficient engines.

The Rogue gets a much-needed update

Nissan’s Rogue sits in an awkward position among other vehicles in its class. All of its major competitors, like the Ford Escape, offer hybrid options with impressive fuel economy. The Rogue is a notorious gas guzzler. Neglecting fuel economy won’t stand up long in a market that’s shifting more and more toward more efficient technology.

The four-cylinder 2021 Nissan Rogue gets an estimated combined 29 miles per gallon, according to the EPA. The new three-cylinder engine will get 33 miles per gallon combined. This bump in gas milage makes the 2021 Nissan Rogue much more competitive in the subcompact category.

The Rogue had once trailed its competitors in fuel economy. A three-cylinder engine option could change that. This update comes at a crucial point for both Nissan and the Rogue.

Nissan Rogue sales are on the decline for the first time in 11 years

Sales data via

The Rogue has been holding steady at the middle of the pack in subcompact SUVs. An updated engine lineup could help boost the model’s popularity. Sales of the Nissan Rogue dropped in 2019 and 2020. This broke more than a decade of sales trends which saw yearly increases for Rogue sales.

Subcompact SUVs are selling well in the U.S. Positioning the three-cylinder Nissan Rogue as a low-maintenance, fuel-efficient option is a brilliant business move. It remains to be seen how the market will respond to the limited release, but Nissan is optimistic.

Three-cylinder engines have an unfair reputation

Three-cylinder engines are coming back in popularity, especially in contemporary hatchbacks. These engines are fast, efficient, and cheap to maintain. So why are so few manufacturers jumping on the trend? Buyer hesitation could be keeping more of these smaller-engines from hitting the U.S. market.

Myths about three-cylinder engines abound. Despite ample evidence to the contrary, buys and industry professionals alike still believe that three-cylinders, and odd-cylinder engines in general, are less reliable. There’s a lack of balance in a straight engine that can be louder than four- or six-cylinder options. Some hear the sound inherent in an odd-number cylinder engine, and it sounds like trouble.


2021 Nissan Rogue: Why Buying Early Could Set You Back