Nissan's redesign of its flagship Rogue model delivers an improved portfolio of family-friendly technologies expected of a crossover.
But also notable is what Nissan's volume-leading nameplate will not offer — a hybrid powertrain.
When the new 2021 Rogue launches this fall, it will offer a single powertrain: a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine. That's in contrast to Nissan's competitors in the critical compact crossover segment that are doubling down on fuel-sipping electrified vehicles.
Three of the Rogue's biggest rivals — the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V — are available with hybrid powertrains. At times, Nissan's Rogue has outsold all of them.
But the market is changing.
Hybrid variants give automakers a differentiator in a crowded segment, said Conrad Layson, researcher with AutoForecast Solutions.
"The RAV4 turned the virtue of a hybrid's fuel savings into a performance sales point," Layson said. Scheduled to launch in July, the 2021 RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid's combined system delivers 302 hp and is touted by Toyota as its fastest model after the Supra.
Toyota's hybrid RAV4 dominates a growing subcategory that saw nearly 118,600 new hybrid compact crossovers registered in the U.S. last year, up from 6,566 in 2015, according to IHS Markit. U.S. sales of the Toyota hybrid variant nearly doubled to 92,525 last year, accounting for 1 in 5 sales of the nameplate.
The Rogue has become a cornerstone of Nissan's portfolio. For the entire industry, compact crossovers were the volume leader in the first quarter, besting full-size pickups, according to the Automotive News Data Center.