The 2021 Nissan line-up is already beginning to take shape, and it looks like there are a few interesting surprises on the horizon from the world’s fourth-largest automaker. It seems like 2021 is going to be a big year for the brand with a number of exciting updates and much-needed overhauls on the cards. If all goes to plan, Nissan returns to posting positive growth on their global sales and hopefully transform a few recent losses into much-needed gains in certain markets.
Nissan sells more than 5 million vehicles a year across the globe, with SUVs and crossovers being the company’s real bread and butter. In fact, Nissan’s SUV and crossovers make up around 45% of the brands’ annual sales. It’s the brand’s continuing focus on the SUV market that makes it such a big hit.
In 2018, the Japanese auto giant sold 5.1 million vehicles globally. This is the second time in a row that the brand posted sales in excess of 5 million. It’s an impressive figure, but it’s actually down on 2017, when the company sold a total of 5,816,278 units in total. The figures were down, but it’s still something to celebrate. The reason for the downturn was blamed on relatively poor success in the UK, Mexico, and the USA.
Traditionally, the US market has been one of the biggest pillars of Nissan’s overall sales, however, there was a large drop in sales between 2017 and 2018. 2017 saw Nissan shift 1,440,049 units in the USA, while 2018 saw sales drop by 6.6% to 1,344,597 vehicles sold. It’s quite a significant drop in sales, but it’s not all bad news. While the US market suffered, other markets, such as the Chinese market, have shown improvement. The question for Nissan’s chief players is how are they going to restore the American market?
The electric and hybrid market is arguably one of the brand’s main priorities. The vast majority of the world’s leading automotive brands are making ambitious plans to switch to hybrid and electric vehicles within the next 10 years. Nissan has been very much at the forefront of the rise of the EV, with the Nissan Leaf being the world’s most popular electric car, selling almost 15,000 units per year. Despite the success of the Leaf, it seems like Nissan will have to work hard on their SUV and crossover game if they’re looking to boost their sales in North America.
And that’s exactly what it looks like the brand is doing. The 2020 Nissan line-up looks to be moving in the right direction, but since 2020 is already upon us, we’re looking even further into the future to see what the 2021 Nissan range will include. Now, some of these are based on official announcements, others on educated guesses and spy shots, while others have more than a pinch of rumor in them.
So without further ado, let’s take a look and see what Nissan might have on offer for 2021.
What To Expect From The 2021 Nissan Line-Up
2021 Nissan Rogue
The Nissan Rogue has been in need of a serious update for years now, and it looks like 2021 will deliver. Known in other markets as the Nissan X-Trail, the Rogue is an excellent all-rounder that can do a little bit of everything and perform admirably at almost any task set before it…albeit in a fairly vanilla and bland package. It’s been a staple part of the Nissan line-up ever since it arrived in 2013, quickly becoming the brand’s best-selling SUV but the years haven’t been that kind. They haven’t been particularly un-kind either though. Something needed to happen to the boring SUV, and by the looks of things, an overhaul is on the way.
The redesign isn’t a complete overhaul, but the changes will certainly make the Rogue look fresher and more exciting. There are elements of the Juke in the mix, and a few interesting details borrowed from the Xmotion Concept vehicle that we saw in 2018.
Up front, the new Rogue features redesigned headlights that have a split-headlight setup, sitting above the front intakes. The front grille has been beefed up and given a more aggressive shape, and it now features new seamless LED DRLs too. The hood features some muscular accents, which blend nicely into the windscreen, pillars, and roof. The rear is a little harder for us to discern from the spy shot photos, thanks to the garbage-bag camouflage. However, we can see thick bumpers, full-width lights, and a faux twin-exhaust setup. This rendering from carscoops (pictured below) gives a great idea of what we can expect to see:
The 2021 Nissan Rogue looks like it’s getting an interior revamp too—which will be music the ears of Rogue aficionados. Even the biggest fans of this bland SUV can’t deny that the interior was about as underwhelming as they come. Nissan plans to overhaul the entire interior cabin from top to bottom. The infotainment system will get an upgrade too, in the form of a tablet-style screen with WiFi and smartphone integration, button controlled camera, map, and menu modes. A new digital instrument cluster will also feature, with HUD technology too.
What about the engine? There’s nothing concrete about what engine options will be available, but we can speculate. Nissan will no doubt offer their naturally-aspirated 2.5 liter petrol engine as the most common option, with the 2.0 liter turbo petrol with variable compression being fitted to some models too, with a continuously variable transmission with optional AWD. Lastly, there’s a good chance that the 2021 Nissan Rogue could have a plug-in hybrid option, borrowing the same technology that the Mitsubishi Outlander uses.
It will have to compete against some well-established and more-loved industry names if it wants to make a big splash—and for that the pricing will have to be just right. We couldn’t guess what it would retail for, but expect something north of $27,000.
2021 Nissan Ariya
Next up, we’ve got something brand new to talk about. Recently unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, the 2021 Nissan Ariya made a big impression. It’s a new crossover SUV with an all-electric powertrain that’s set to join the Nissan Leaf at the forefront of Nissan’s electric vehicle push. According to sources, the Ariya concept could very well be in production by late 2020, and on sale in the US by 2021. It may not keep the concept’s “Ariya” moniker, but commit the name to memory for now just in case.
This compact crossover is set to have a smaller, lower, and wider stance than the above mentioned Nissan Rogue, with sweeping curves and a less-angular nature than other Nissan vehicles in the current line-up. What’s more, it’s expected to borrow technology from the Nissan Leaf, which boasts a total driving range of 226 miles, making it a practical, versatile, and usable electric vehicle.
The Ariya might share some technology with the Leaf, but it will have some differences. It won’t be a simple two-wheel-drive vehicle. Instead, it’s likely to have a dual front and rear motor setup, with AWD abilities, and impressive performance specs that could catapult the Ariya from 0 to 60 mph in under 5 seconds. Of course, Nissan will also be treating their new electric with the brand’s semi-autonomous ProPilot 2.0 system that we’ve seen with on the Japanese-only Nissan Skyline.
Nissan has given the Ariya concept a relatively basic interior, capitalizing on the futuristic and minimalist nature of the design—but the production version might have a few more comforts injected for the sake of practicality. Hopefully, it will feel more high-end than the Leaf, putting it on par with similar spec electric cars. It would be good to see Nissan boost the range to the 300 mile marker, a feat that would really elevate the Ariya when compared with others.
As for the price? Hard to say, since it’s only a concept. We would say around $40,000 for the basic model, with increases in price for higher levels of trim. This is definitely a vehicle to keep your eyes on. It could be a major player in the years to come.
2021 Nissan Pathfinder
According to a number of sources, 2021 is going to see the release of an all-new Nissan Pathfinder. Not another minor refresh—a whole new model, if sources are to be believed. Expect a new look, a new shape, and a new powertrain option too. At the moment, details are thin on the ground, but this is what we know so far.
The Pathfinder will be shaped more like a crossover but it will still be a genuine SUV, with all the space and road presence to match. It will boast seven seats, three rows, and plenty of storage space, making it a practical and versatile ride. It’s expected that the new Pathfinder will share a lot of DNA with the Infiniti QX60, with premium features, and a level of luxury that the outgoing Pathfinder models just don’t have.
In terms of technology, the new Pathfinder will make the most out of Nissan’s latest technology and riding aids, commanded by an 8 inch touch screen infotainment system and digital instrumentation. It’s also expected that the new 2021 Nissan Pathfinder will use Nissan’s NissanConnect system to keep you connected at all times—and some sources are even talking up the prospect of level four autonomous driving, which might be a little ambitious for a 2021 release date, but certainly not impossible.
But what’s under the hood?
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that the new Pathfinder will rely on the tried and tested 3.5 liter V6 lump that it has always used. The engine can produce 290 horsepower and up to 260 lb-ft of peak torque, with an average mileage of around 23 miles per gallon. The engine will be mated to the continuously variable Xtronic transmission, which delivers power to the front wheels, but with an optional 4×4 mode that provides rear wheel power when necessary.
But wait, there’s more! The rumor mill has also mentioned a hybrid engine for the new Pathfinder. This is nothing more than a rumor at the moment, but a hybrid option would be a sensible decision for the company—especially when you consider that almost all of the Pathfinder’s rivals offer a hybrid alternative.
And what will it cost? The MSRP of the 2021 Nissan Pathfinder in base model trim is expected to be around $47,000 or more. This is all just guesswork though.
2021 Nissan 370Z and GT-R
And what about the 370Z or GT-R? Well, 2020 failed to deliver any kind of update that these venerable old vehicles deserve, but just because it hasn’t happened already doesn’t mean it isn’t on the cards. Now, there’s always rumors about an overhaul of these much loved vehicles, but for the first time, it looks like something is genuinely on the horizon. Keep in mind that these cars are some of the oldest that you can buy in the USA and in much need of an update.
Nissan has already come out and said that replacements are very much under development and that we can “expect something soon.” These words come from Ivan Espinosa, Nissan’s product planning boss. He also said he “can’t share what but that doesn’t mean we’re not working on them. Nissan is about exciting cars.”
The rumor mill has gone wild about this statement, with talk of the new Z car being an electric model, while others say that the GT-R has been the focus of so much indecision from Nissan’s bosses who can’t decide whether an electric sports car is what the public wants, or whether to go hybrid and split the difference. A potential hybrid GT-R won’t be arriving in 2021, that’s for sure. It would take a few more years to properly develop that into a real competitor.
But the B70Z? That’s already been spotted lapping around the Nürburgring, wearing old bodywork but with enough changes for us to get excited about. These include a new front fascia, overhanging wheel wells that suggest a narrower track, and other features that leave clues to the 370Z future being as a smaller and more agile mover than the current iteration.
It might be nimbler, but it won’t be much lighter, if Nissan’s Hiroshi Tamura is to be believed. He’s explained that weight savings might not be dramatic, but improvements to the handling would make it feel like it was lighter. But what about the powertrain? A hybrid would be a logical option, but there’s also the chance of a 3.0 liter twin turbo V6, the very same 400 horsepower model found in some choice Infiniti units.
So what’s the timeline looking like for the new 370Z? Since the test mule looks a long way from finished and the rumors flying around are still quite outlandish, we’d say that a full on production model is still a ways off. 2021 could still be an important year for the model, with an unveiling at the very least expected to come over the next 12 months, maybe even a model released at the end of the year wearing a 2022 badge?
And the GT-R? Well, who knows?! Definitely not 2021. 2022 looks pretty unlikely too. But 2026, or after? That would give Nissan more than enough time to make a firm decision on what to do with it, and to develop an appropriate powertrain, giving this venerable sports car the attention it truly deserves.
Don’t forget that both the Nissan B70Z and Nissan GT-R both originally went on sale in 2009, more than a decade ago!