Crossover & Midsize

The New 2021 Rogue Comes at a ‘Critical Time’ for Nissan

Kelley Blue Book described the 2020 Nissan Rogue as very “vanilla” in spite of its position as a top-seller among Nissan’s offerings, and especially when compared with Toyota’s RAV4. Whether KBB’s comments motivated Nissan to revitalize Rogue for 2021 or a significant refresh was already in the works is difficult to tell.

However, given comments by Nissan’s VP of Production Planning in an interview with CNBC, it seems the carmaker is placing a significant wager on the new Rogue in a high-stakes game.

What Nissan’s VP of Production Planning has to say about Rogue

Three major points were evident during the CNBC interview with Nissan Production Planning VP, Jared Haslam. First, Nissan’s redesign of it best-selling Rogue crossover for 2021 is a key product in an overall global turnaround plan. Second, a sleeker design, an improvement to power and technology upgrades are primary features included in Nissan’s third-generation compact crossover. Finally, 2021 Rogue tops the list of five planned new releases or redesigns by the automaker this year.

The planned global turnaround of the carmaker comes on the heels of the ouster of longtime chairman Carlos Ghosn whose 2018 arrest significantly damaged Nissan’s reputation. The company’s restructuring starts by cutting billions in fixed costs, eliminating several nameplates and production plants closings or realignments  following the initiation of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance.

With the turnaround ahead, Haslam notes that the 2021 Rogue represents a critical product at a critical time for Nissan. “It’s obviously a critical time for us, and a critical product for us,” Haslam said.

Rogue has been Nissan’s best-selling vehicle

With Nissan’s future at risk, hedging their bets on the 2021 Rogue makes perfect sense because Rogue has been their best-selling vehicle. The 2008 Nissan’s Rogue crossover was the debut of the model, which went virtually unnoticed until winning Consumer Digest’s Automotive Best Buy Award in 2010. Rogue received Consumer Guide’s Best Buy Award five years in a row from 2015 to 2019 with its second generation model and earned the label as America’s Best-Selling SUV in 2018.

Nissan’s third-generation Rogue, released in 2020, remained in the middle of the pack among its competitors, coming up short against Toyota’s RAV4, Ford’s Escape and Honda’s CR-V, but remained at the top of Nissan’s best-selling automobiles.

Why the 2021 Nissan Rogue could be a hit

RELATED: The Winner of a 2020 Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue Comparison Is Obvious

The 2021 Rogue is receiving a much-needed facelift to bring it up-to-date with market trends, including wider back doors for easier entry. Its power comes from a 181 hp, 2.5-liter in-line 4-cylinder engine, representing a significant power increase. The AWD option on the 2021 Rogue includes intelligent all-wheel-drive for snow and other road conditions and a boost in towing and off-road capabilities is expected as previous editions have demonstrated dismal performance against RAV4 and CR-V.

Along with its redesigned look, Rogue’s interior and technology received the most attention in the refresh. Interior updates include plush, luxurious interior with quilted Nappa leather-appointed seats. The 2021’s tri-zone automatic climate control will help improve comfort and keep driver and passengers comfortable. 

A floating center console with storage and butterfly opening is a new interior feature. Three new high-tech displays, including an all-digital dashboard, 9″ touch-screen infotainment center (Apple CarPlay connectivity), and a heads up display (speed, turn-by-turn, etc.) are the tech upgrades for the new Rogue.

The 2021 Rogue plays a critical role in Nissan’s turnaround

As Nissan works to recover lost ground and strengthen their new alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi, hedging they are hedging their bets on the 2021 Rogue. Because Rogue has spent the past five-plus years at the top of Nissan’s best-seller list, leading with a refreshed release of Rogue while bringing along its other best-sellers later this year makes sense. As was made clear by Nissan’s VP of Production Planning, the 2021 Rogue plays a critical role in the carmaker’s global turnaround.