Crossover & Midsize

The 2021 Nissan Rogue Looks Great but Still Comes With a Major Deal Breaker

Drivers love Nissans, especially its sedans and SUVs. The crossover Nissan Rogue is particularly popular — for the past several years, it’s consistently out-sold the next-bestselling Altima by more than 100,000 units. The 2021 Nissan Rogue got a major and much-needed overhaul, marking the beginning of the SUV’s fifth generation. As Car and Driver states, the 2021 Rogue “offers more attractive styling, modernized interior tech, and — hopefully — improved acceleration performance and driving dynamics.”

This opinion is echoed by many, as the Rogue looks fantastic but has been plagued by a number of major problems specifically related to its continuously variable transmission (CVT).  

The 2021 Nissan Rogue’s new look

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Cars.com reviewers were some of the first to get a real-life look at the 2021 Nissan Rogue and in their “First Impressions” video, they called its styling “bolder.” Indeed, the Rogue’s fresh style updates make it appear slightly larger than it really is — and certainly more formidable. The 2021 Rogue also comes with an available two-tone exterior for the first time ever. 

Inside, Nissan seriously modernized the crossover’s interior. For starters, the cabin materials are noticeably more upscale. The largest available touchscreen is 7 inches on current Rogues, but the 2021 model comes standard with an 8-inch screen while a 9-inch screen is available – as is a full-color head-up display.

While the Cars.com reviewer raved about the 2021 Rogue’s updated look, he specifically noted that no one from the company had been able to actually drive it yet. The last Rogue review Cars.com did was of the 2019 model and the reviewer said, “Most of our complaints then focused on the SUV’s driving manners, and since we’re not yet able to drive the 2021 Rogue, we don’t yet know whether our concerns have been addressed.” Those driving manners have long been a topic of concern about the Nissan Rogue, and they’re almost entirely CVT-related. 

Buyers avoid Nissan’s CVT like the plague

RELATED: Nissan Rogue Sport Sales Are Drastically Lower Than the Regular Rogue

A quick online search for “Nissan CVT problems” illustrates how widespread this problem really is. There are multiple websites dedicated specifically to the topic, as well as a number of Reddit threads. One of them has over 80 comments, mostly answering “yes” to the question, “Are Nissan CVTs really this bad?” “I’ve seen them go bad as low as 30k. They’re so so bad,” one Redditor said.

Another wrote, “I had a 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5. It was on its third transmission by 60k miles and by 75k miles that one was slipping. Total garbage.”

As one of the most prevalent problems Nissan owners experience across several model years, it’s no wonder industry critics and consumers alike are skeptical of the 2021 Rogue. Even in the most minor CVT problems, drivers experience their vehicle shaking, stuttering, making loud noises, unexpectedly accelerating — often rapidly, and stopping while moving.

The CVT isn’t just a Rogue problem

According to Top Class Actions, a multitude of CVT-related problems have been reported to the NHTSA affecting several 2013-2020 Nissan models aside from the Rogue. The Altima, Maxima, Murano, Sentra, Versa, and Pathfinder, along with some Infiniti models, also have notoriously problematic CVTs. 

This class-action lawsuit is being put together because previously, only a few Nissan models were included, despite the fact that numerous others were known to be affected.

As one example, Car Complaints reports that in 2019 Nissan settled a class-action lawsuit affecting 2013-2017 Sentras, 2012-2017 Versas, and 2014-2017 Versa Notes with defective CVTs. Around the same time, Nissan settled yet another class-action for faulty CVTs, this one affecting 2013-2016 Altimas. The automaker extended the vehicle warranties and reimbursed people who had already paid for transmission repairs or replacements. 

Hopefully, when professional automotive reviewers finally get behind the wheel of the 2021 Nissan Rogue, they discover that the CVT has been redesigned along with everything else. The SUV looks dang good, but it’s going to have to prove itself to win sales.