New Nissan Rogue to complicate Renegade, Trax sales paths
Last year, Nissan sold a stunning 350,447 Rogues. The small crossovers had gotten an early publicity boost from the 2016 movie Star Wars: Rogue One, which had nothing to do with the car other than the title, but seemed to dramatically lift sales. Their styling could best be described as “distinctive,” but their price and crossover shape were what the market wanted; and the luck with the name seemed to bring it to the attention of the public.
Meanwhile, Jeep has struggled with its comparable crossover, the Renegade, only achieving 76,885 sales; the Compass, which some would argue is the real Rogue competitor, did much better, but with 143,934 sales, was still in a different league. Chevrolet’s Trax only hit 116,816. The Rogue is playing in the same league as the CRV and RAV4; the Compass and Renegade seem to be in a little-r league.
The new Rogue has the same four-cylinder engine, with far better handling and an improved CVT; there are more standard safety features and more optional driver assistance features. The cabin looks better and seems better engineered; a new optional two-level cargo floor increases usefulness. On the downside, the ride is overly firm, power diminishes as the load gets heavy, and the split/sliding back seat has been dropped.
The Rogue, uniquely, has an LED headlight setup; the other cars are all still stuck on halogens. The Rogue also has standard parking assist and lane departure warnings; the Compass has both as an option, and the Renegade has no park assist but does have lane departure.
The 2021 Rogue starts at $25,850, about $1,350 more than the Compass and $3,000 more than the Renegade; and $4,450 more than the Trax. Despite the differences in MSRP, the Rogue and Compass have almost the same invoice; the Compass has a higher destination charge.
The Rogue has a 181-horse 2.5 liter engine, and the Compass and Renegade each have 180 horsepower 2.4s; the Trax has a tiny 155 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder. Torque is similar for all four, ranging from 175 lb-ft (Compass/Renegade) to 181 (Rogue). On the down side, for Rogue, it’s also the heaviest, with 3,370 lb vs 3,184 for Compass, 3,124 for Trax, and 3,056 for Renegade.
All take regular fuel.
Transmissions are quite different; the Rogue has a CVT with a separate two-speed setup, the Compass and Trax have a six-speed automatic, and ironically the cheapest, the Renegade, has a sophisticated nine-speed. All have manual-override transmissions, and all come in front wheel drive with optional all wheel drive.
The Rogue has a major advantage in gas mileage; its combined rating is 30 mpg, vs 25 for the Jeeps and 27 for the far less powerful Trax.
The Rogue stereo is a four-speaker setup, compared with six speakers in the others. All have driver and passenger side and side-curtain airbags; the Trax is unique in using drum brakes on the rear wheels. The Rogue does have terrible NHTSA crash ratings, with 3 stars on frontal crash overall (2 stars for passengers, 4 for the driver), though it gets five stars for side barriers and poles; it has four stars on rollovers.
Ironically, the Rogue is the longest of these vehicles, with a 183-inch length vs the Compass at 173, the Trax at 168, and the Renegade at 167. This comes at the cost of overhangs, since the wheelbases aren’t that far apart. The Rogue is wider (72″) than the others (60″ – 61″) as well. This translates into more passenger space—105 cubic feet worth, vs the Compass and Renegade’s 100 cubic feet and the Trax’s 93 cubic feet.
The Rogue has 80″ of legroom (front+rear), ever so slightly less than Compass but more than Trax (76.5) or Renegade (76.3). The Rogue really shines with cargo room, though—36.5 cubic feet, compared with 27.2 in the Compass, 18.7 in Trax, and 18.5 in Renegade.
The road ahead for the Trax, Compass, and Renegade is even harder now.
Clark Westfield grew up fixing up and driving past-their-prime American cars, including various GM and Mopar V8s. He has ghostwritten auto news for the last few years, and lives in Farmingdale, New York.