A WORTHY COMPETITOR
Nissan redesigned its Rogue compact crossover last year, and in 2015, sales took off. The Japanese automaker is on track to deliver 250,000 Rogues to U.S. customers by the end of December. That would put them up in company of the leaders of the class, the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV-4 and the Ford Escape.
One of the reasons for the Rogues success has to be its solid good looks. There is nothing very fancy about it, but the styling is harmonious. The surfaces are smooth and the corners beveled. Only the up-sweeping chrome beltline that frames the side glass draws attention to the eye, and that is all that is needed.
Yet, the interior is even more pleasing. A gently curving dash wraps around onto the doors. A brilliant touch-screen display highlights an easy-to use center control panel. Tasteful piano-black trim adds a quality touch, and soft-surface vinyl covers the areas you are likely to contact. My test car, finished in beige with black accents, was very attractive.
Nissan offers the Rogue in both five-seat and seven seat configurations. The seven-seater is a compromise—the way-back seats are very cramped, and suitable only for small kids. However, the five-seater is packaged better. The front seats features Nissan’s “Zero Gravity” technology, and are quite comfortable. Only very tall drivers would want more legroom. Second-row passengers have no problem in that regard—their seats slide nine-inches, fore and aft. If you opt for the five-passenger Rogue, you get a generous 70-cu.-ft cargo area that can be configured in 18 different ways, according to Nissan. This flexibility comes in handy if you are carrying odd-sized items.
Nissan sells the Rogue in three levels of trim, S, SV and SL. The entry-level S model comes with the basics, but also includes a rearview camera and a five-inch infotainment display. The SV will likely be the most popular version with features like keyless entry/start, privacy glass and Nissan Connect with smartphone app integration. The top-of-the-line SL goes a step further, adding leather, navigation, a power liftgate and Bose audio. My test car was a loaded SL, and it felt like a near-luxury SUV.
High-tech safety features are in demand these days, and Nissan provides them in their optional Premium packages for the SV and SL models. Buyers can add blind-spot warning, lane-departure detection and forward-collision alert, among other features for $1990 in the SV and $1590 in SL. Forward-collision alert flashes a light and sounds a chime if the system senses that a crash is imminent.
Nissan provides just one engine for the Rogue, a 2.5-liter, inline four-cylinder that pumps out 170 horsepower. It’s teamed with a continuously variable automatic (CVT) transmission. Sixty-mph comes up in about nine seconds, which is about average in this class. It’s no powerhouse, but it does an adequate job. The CVT is one of the better ones in the market. It doesn’t intrude with moaning sounds when pressed hard. Front-wheel drive is standard; AWD is optional. Fuel economy is rated at 28-mpg in combined city and highway driving. I averaged 26.2 during the 300 miles I drove the Rogue.
Most drivers should find the Rogue’s road manners satisfactory. It doesn’t stand out in any one area, but it does a decent job in everyday driving. Its handling is predictable, although it doesn’t provide a lot of feedback through the steering wheel to the driver. The overall ride quality is good. The Rogue absorbs bumps well, and maintains its poise on rough stretches of pavement. Yet, it does its best work in freeway driving, where it quietly gobbles up the miles.
Rogue pricing starts at a modest $23,900 for the S model. The SV begins at $25,350, and the SL can be had for $29,140. My loaded test car, with all-wheel drive and the Premium package, had a suggested retail price of $32,480.
Flexible Storage (Five-Seater)
Optional Safety Features