When early SUVs hit the road, they took it on the chin for having a truck like presence with ladder frames and a choppy ride. Many wore rounded fenders and stretch back front ends.

Fast forward to the 2021 Nissan Rogue makeover featuring interior and exterior re-designs, and you guessed it, a new boxier design front and back. Go figure.

The new look has a premium appearance though and it is highlighted with active grille shutters, 3-D tire deflectors, underbody covers and rear spoiler.

With improved driving dynamics, Nissan believes they have another hit since the popular compact model debuted in 2008. We agree but wish more oomph was under the hood to prop up mediocre acceleration.

Pros: Handsome looks, high tech interior, roomy cabin

Cons: Upper trims pricey, pokey, noisy engine

Sole engine is a four-cylinder direct injection with 181 horsepower, producing a like amount of torque. An electronic shifter has a manual mode. In our independent testing, the new Rogue reached 60 miles per hour from a dead stop in 8.3 seconds, trailing key rivals’ Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

Rogue is available in four trim levels: S, SV, SL and Platinum. Front wheel drive is standard and all-wheel-drive is an available option for each at $1,400. Base prices range from the mid-$20s to just under $40 large, slightly more than rivals. The mid-range SV is the best choice for cost effectiveness with an array of options including 18-inch wheels, power adjustable driver’s seat, full range camera system and ProPilot — Nissan’s semi-autonomous driving system.

Our Platinum tester was given high fives by family and friends lauding its rich leather interior, quilted seats, digital dashboard, ambient lighting and oversize navigation screen. They also commented on its roomy back seat and large cargo area easily holding four oversize golf bags.

Controls are intuitively placed and redundant manual knobs make radio tuning a breeze without drilling down in pull-downs. A bi-level dashboard makes additional room for storage while an available three-zone climate control offers passengers their preferred temperature.

Connectivity is made easy with wireless Apple CarPlay however the same cannot be said for wired Android Auto – curious in that more than half of cell phones are the latter.

In highway travel, once up to speed, the Rogue offers a compliant ride with precise steering, firm braking and little body roll. While it lacks in passing power, the Rogue delivers a smooth ride with 19-inch alloys and suspension that absorbs most pavement irregularities.

Nissan’s Pro-Pilot Assist combines numerous safety tech gear to keep you safe in most driving conditions although disclaimers keep the driver uppermost in control.

The list is lengthy with emergency front and rear braking with pedestrian detection, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control that works with navigation to slow the vehicle prior to upcoming curves in the roadway.

With the redesign, be sure to include the new Rogue in your short list of test drives along the RAV4, CR-V, VW Tiguan, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson.

Contact independent automotive columnist Len Ingrassia at lenscarcorner@comcast.net.

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