2021 Nissan Rogue SL: Driven
Diving Deep Into ProPilot Assist with Navi-Link.
Nissan has been on a roll lately, launching all-new or significantly redesigned versions of the company's most popular models at a blistering pace. One of the most important among these was the extensively redesigned 2021 Rogue, which debuted in late 2020. The new 2021 Rogue, which is Nissan's best-selling vehicle in the U.S., benefited from increased horsepower and torque, impressive new styling, loads of smart family first features, and of course the suite of standard safety and security features that Nissan is known for. We covered all of these extensively in our First Drive review, which can be found here.
Now, you may be asking yourself what took us so long to jump in the driver's seat for a follow up. Well, we were waiting on one specific feature to be available that we weren't able to try at the launch event: ProPilot Assist with Navi-Link. Sure, we've driven many Nissan products that feature ProPilot Assist, which is Nissan's hands-on semi-autonomous driving feature. However, what we missed out on was the new Navi-Link feature, which is available as an option on SL and standard on Platinum grade 2021 Rogues.
ProPilot Assist with Navi-Link is an enhanced version of Nissan's already popular ProPilot Assist. What Navi-Link provides is automatic speed adjustment based on the route that is currently selected in the navigation system. Then, knowing the route that you will be taking, the Navi-Link system is able to automatically slow the vehicle down to appropriate speeds when it senses that you are traveling on a curved transition ramp or approaching the end of a freeway off-ramp. Is this a necessary function? No. However, we wanted to try it for ourselves and make our own judgement.
So, how does it work in the real world? Even with the improvements to ProPilot Assist for 2021 we're still largely on the fence about it. The system works and works well, don't let us make you think for a moment that it doesn't. Rather, what we don't like about ProPilot Assist most likely stems from our less-than-stellar roads and road markings in Southern California. When the ProPilot Assist was activated, our Rogue would attempt to keep itself centered in the lane. Unfortunately, what this was the constant need for the vehicle to self-correct left and right giving a very ping-pong ball feeling from the front seat. At times it would also hug either the left or right side of the lane, when the markings on the other side were poor or dirty. This has been our gripe for some time now, so it's really nothing new and definitely not unique to Nissan's automated driving system.
Navi-Link on the other hand is definitely a really neat party trick with one major flaw, at least for us. When we queued up the on-board navigation with our destination, got on the freeway, and set ProPilot Assist to work the Navi-Link did exactly as advertised, slowing the vehicle appropriately for road curves and interchanges without any intervention from the driver. Appropriately is the key word here, as we totally expected the Rogue to slow excessively for curves, thankfully this was not the case. Navi-Link slowed to Rogue to the appropriate safe speed for the curve, without causing a traffic jam behind us. Having lived with this feature for a week we wouldn't want to own a ProPilot Assist equipped Nissan without Navi-Link.
What was the one major flaw, though? For us, at least, we've been trained over the past few years to use Apple CarPlay almost exclusively. Apple maps navigation works, and it works well. We also like the ability to set destinations before getting in the car and to have Siri adjust our navigation hands-free. You can see where this is going Navi-Link only works with Nissan's built-in navigation system, unsurprisingly. So that one major flaw isn't with Navi-Link or ProPilot Assist, it's with our personal engrained habits. Which is just made worse by the Rogue's available wireless Apple CarPlay.
ProPilot Assist with Navi-Link aside, the 2021 Nissan Rogue is still a wonderful SUV. We actually enjoy (gasp) the tuning of the CVT transmission to act like a normal step-gear unit and feel that the 181 hp and 181 lb-ft 2.5L I-4 engine is a good fit for the 3,500-pound Rogue. Sure, a turbocharged or hybrid version would be nice, but we never felt like the Rogue was particularly under powered. The interior is comfortable and quiet, there's loads of storage space behind the second row, and of course the Rogue is loaded with Nissan's Safety Shield 360 standard.
Overall, our time with the 2021 Nissan Rogue SL was quite enjoyable. And we accomplished our mission of giving ProPilot Assist with Navi-Link a full workout. It's unfortunate that Navi-Link is only available on the highest trim levels, as we definitely feel it's something all Rogue owners would benefit from.
2021 Nissan Rogue SL
Price as tested: $36,220
Engine: 2.5L I-4
Transmission: Xtronic CVT
Horsepower: 181 @ 6,000 RPM
Torque: 181 lb-ft @ 3,600 RPM
Towing capacity: 1,350 pounds
EPA fuel economy rating: 26 city / 34 hwy / 29 comb
Actual calculated economy, 239.9-mile trip: 25.8 mpg