Rogue refreshed: Why minor design changes are a major opportunity

Rogue refreshed: Why minor design changes are a major opportunity

Bound by time and engineering constraints, model refreshes force designers to stretch their creativity

How do you improve one of the bestselling vehicles in America? Very carefully. Just ask the Nissan designers who worked on the recently revealed 2024 Rogue.

Nissan will often refresh a model a few years after it goes on sale. These mid-cycle changes allow Nissan to apply upgrades and updates based on customer feedback and the latest trends. As designers at Nissan Design America (NDA) explain, while the aesthetic changes might appear minor, they present a major opportunity to attract new customers to the model nameplate.

2021 Rogue
2024 Rogue

The 2021 (left) and 2024 Nissan Rogue

The all-new 2021 Rogue debuted in June 2020 to widespread praise for its functionality, technology and overall design.

"The look of this [Rogue] was really well-received. It was quite futuristic but well balanced when you saw it on the road,” said Hiren Patel, senior manager, Exterior Design at NDA in San Diego. “It felt strong and capable, and it had a good sense of quality about it. The feedback was very positive."

To maintain a position amid evolving market and customer tastes, designers started working on the 2024 Rogue almost immediately after the 2020 debut. Updating the SUV presented a predicament: Nissan designers had to freshen the look while preserving the appealing qualities of the original.

The process involved three Nissan studios around the world. Nissan Design China won the initial design competition. The vehicle was then refined at the Global Design Center in Japan before being finalized by designers at NDA.

When designers refresh a model, they are more constrained than when creating an all-new one. Most “hard” panels, generally made of metal and including elements like the roof, trunk and hood, must remain the same. “Soft” panels, such as the front and rear bumpers, trim pieces, and headlights and taillights, are usually included within a refresh. Designers are also limited by existing functional elements lurking beneath a vehicle’s skin, whether it’s part of the exhaust system or wiring for electronic components.

“You have to start with the base that is already given,” said Lars Taubert, project lead designer at NDA.

In many ways, Taubert says, a model refresh forces designers to be even more creative than when producing a vehicle from scratch.

"It's a great challenge,” he said. “The more restrictions in place, the more creative you have to be. Sketching cars freely is fun, but it’s not so much problem-solving.”

1989 Nissan Hardbody

Patel says designers leaned into Rogue’s modern style. One look at the 2024 Rogue reveals the designers’ intent to further elevate an upscale feel. Up front, for example, a reimagined grille incorporates a new iteration to the signature Nissan design element known as the V-motion grille.

"You can still feel the V-motion, but it's not just one ingot of chrome – it's now these finer blades that have different thicknesses, and they blend out together toward the perimeter and the headlamps,” Patel said. “The front end is more integrated and wider, which provides that more premium look.”

At the rear, the body-color portion of the vehicle has been extended downward, replacing black cladding.

"These enhancements increase the sense of trust you want from a vehicle, especially a family vehicle. We wanted to emphasize that,” Patel said.

1989 Nissan Hardbody

A noticeable exterior change are the all-new aluminum-alloy wheel designs on the SV and Platinum trims. Taubert said updating wheels has a significant impact on changing a vehicle’s appearance. In the case of the 2024 Rogue, the new designs have more spokes and a more refined look.

“The whole vehicle looks more sophisticated, and the new wheels support that,” Taubert said.

Inside, designers also evaluated every detail to enhance the customer experience. There are new colors and textures for the door panels, seats, center console and passenger-side dashboard trim. And on the Platinum model, new Chestnut brown leather appointments are now available. While the individual changes were small, together, they resulted in a richer, more luxurious interior.

1989 Nissan Hardbody

The world is changing quickly, and Nissan is committed to keeping up – whether it’s through introducing all-new vehicles or upgrading the existing lineup to continue exceeding driver expectations. With its fresh features and sophisticated new skin, Rogue is the latest example of Nissan’s dedication to that mission.

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