The 2021 Nissan Rogue has one tough assignment ahead. That’s because the compact SUV’s rivals include enormously popular models like the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. With company like this, Nissan can’t afford to let its best-selling SUV fall behind on performance, comfort, quality or value. In most of these regards, the 2021 Rogue improves on its predecessor. Things We Like 1. Sharper Handling Nissan gave the 2021 Rogue a more surefooted feel, thanks in large part to handling that improves on the prior generation’s vague, nose-heavy reflexes. During our time with the 2021 Rogue SV AWD, we noted vast improvements to steering around sweeping corners and highway cloverleafs. 2. Improved Interior Quality The cabin design and layout of the new Rogue is equal parts classy, functional and user friendly. It’s a nice place to spend time. Soft-touch surfaces adorn most places you’ll rest an arm or elbow, though things get less fancy when it comes to the materials used in the rear-seat area — a norm for this class. All in all, the 2021 Rogue has a nicely executed interior that’s competitive with key rivals. 3. Powertrain Is More Refined Than Before While it doesn’t have much more output than the previous Rogue, the latest drivetrain feels more refined in terms of operation. During most driving situations, the 181-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine provides reasonable acceleration and works well with the Rogue’s continuously variable automatic transmission. No matter which trim you choose, this engine and gearbox remain the same on all Rogues. 4. Available Tech Features Things We Don’t 1. Firm Ride If you enjoyed the comfortable, if unsophisticated, ride of the previous Nissan Rogue, well, you might want to invest in a pillow or two. That’s because the sharper handling in the 2021 model comes with a noticeably firmer ride. During our evaluations that became particularly apparent over potholes and sewer covers. 2. No More Sliding Second Row The second row slides forward and back to prioritize rear legroom or cargo space and the seatbacks have a convenient 40/20/40 split to accommodate longer cargo with two outboard passengers. Sounds good, right? It sure does except that was the Rogue’s previous generation. Both second-row features have been jettisoned in the transition to 2021 model year. The loss of this flexible seating and storage solution is a strange move by Nissan.