You could be forgiven for not realizing that there’s a new Rogue available from Nissan for this year, due to the “current situation” it seems like the rollout is a little slower than it would have been back in the “old normal”. But for Nissan it’s a big deal, the Rogue being a cornerstone of their sales offerings and in fact their top seller. Back in 2008 when the first Rogue debuted it was just another entry in the small CUV segment that did surprising well, who knew that generation would even hang around for a while as the Rogue Select even after the second generation debuted for 2014.
Of course then we also got the Rogue Sport a few years back, an ever so slightly smaller CUV than the regular Rogue. Nissan lumps the sales of these two together, so that overall it appears that usually the Rogue nameplate ends up as the third-place finisher in the segment’s sales charts, behind the RAV4, CR-V, and just ahead of the Equinox. In fact, in 2018 the Rogue name racked up well over 400,000 sales in just the United States so it’s not like it was a distant third place either, it’s a tight battle. 2019 though saw a bit of a headwind and then in 2020 sales dropped precipitously, due in no small part to a combination of the “current situation” as well as the model changeover. Finally there are enough on the ground that Nissan was able to send us one to take a look at last week, in this case a Rogue SL AWD, one step down from the top of the line Platinum, which itself is a new addition to the trim levels this year.
It’s not obvious that this SL model is anything but top-spec, just that the Platinum adds even more fripperies. If it were a Sundae, the SL would have the whipped cream, fudge, cherry, and the nuts, and the Platinum would just have more on top. And maybe caramel too I suppose. For the dieters there is also an S as well as an SV trim available, both with less features standard but the mechanicals and underlying electronics remaining the same. None of them though appears to be just a glass of plain water, there really is no such thing as a base car anymore. This class is a tough one to compete in, everyone does, and the more offerings that can be served up, the better the chances to hook a buyer.
Nissan knows when a formula seems to work, so the new Rogue hews to the proven formula. While obviously restyled it’s not a huge departure from what went before, and doesn’t try to be either overly soft or overly butch, treading somewhat of a middle ground and coming across as more sophisticated due to it. Dimensions are very close to the previous ones and the wheelbase is the same although it is apparently on a new platform.
The front displays the most obvious difference with a split light setup similar to what some others in the segment have done before and that is starting to be seen in other segments as well. At first glance it seems like it has tiny slit headlights up top and larger fog lights below, and then the realization comes that the lower lights are in fact the headlights and the ones above are marker lights.
The grille is dominated by Nissan’s “V-motion grille” chrome band angling around the sides and bottom of it, and all of the bodywork is a little more chiseled around the sides and back as well. Lighting in the rear is more attractive than what came before, and two-tone paint combinations are available such as on this one with the black roof option. Some like this, some don’t, it’s an option so not forced on anyone. Might as well offer it seeing as how others do, can’t sell it if it’s not available and someone has to have it.
I myself find it adds to the design rather than detracting, visually it’s interesting and in this case the mirrors match the roof in black as well. Interestingly although Nissan changed its logo last year and is using it on its website and advertising, the Rogue still carries the older one, perhaps that’ll be a change later in the year.
While a car painted Pearl White with Super Black accents on the surface sounds somewhat plain (why couldn’t I have gotten the bright orange or red one?), the paint in both colors does have a depth to it and looks quite good in person. My initial assumption that the interior would just be solid black was proven wrong immediately as the top edge of it (so the upper surface of the door panels and dashboard) is actually a medium brown color that complements the rest of the Charcoal lower areas to good effect and immediately raises the sophistication level inside; the lighter stitching in numerous areas enhances this even more.
So does what at first appears to be a really nice piece of open pore wood above the glovebox, however upon touching it (and it draws your finger to itself) it becomes obvious that it’s just a really, really well done representation of wood. Visually the grain, low luster satin finish, and seemingly multilevel texture is magnificent, it looks better and more real than some genuine wood items in others’ vehicles.
What takes away from that though (assuming you can keep your hands off it) is the somewhat inexplicable decision to not use the same material on the other flat surfaces. Instead, in those areas such as the center console and in the door areas that house the window switches for example there is trim that looks like brushed anodized black aluminum. While it actually has the graining, it too is plastic. Perhaps this is another manifestation of warm and cold, trying to tread a middle ground as with the exterior design.
The seats, as with those in most Nissan vehicles, are instantly comfortable and hardly need adjusting. Set and forget, no pressure points, they just seem to support the body. I wish I could say the same for the headrests though, which jut too far forward and forced me to recline the seat more than I would have preferred.
I investigated to the point of stopping and actually removing the headrests to find there is no way to adjust their angle of attack, and they do not slot in backwards either – well, they do, but just fall to their lowest position and then they are so far back as to be unsafe/unusable. As always though, this may just be something that affects me, others may find it fine. By the end of the week I was used to my more reclined position and the rest of the seat was excellent.
With the seats as well as the steering wheel being heated (all the way around the perimeter for once but not all the way around its girth, the thin sliver where the stitching is remained cold), it’s easy to quickly get comfortable and settled in, and if multiple drivers exist for it, then the memory function for the seats and mirrors will be handy as well. The adjustable lumbar support for whatever reason didn’t seem to remember its setting though from day to day, requiring re-pumping it back up via the electric button on the side of the seat periodically.
The Rogue has a tall greenhouse area with quite tall side windows (and fairly slim pillars, especially in front), so occupants get a great view out and the panoramic sunroof does not intrude on headroom. Being 6’1″ with a 32″ inseam and preferring to sit relatively upright this can sometimes be an issue or more often at least a borderline one, however not so here, I could likely even wear a hat, a refreshing change of pace.
While this model has a 9″ touchscreen (an option over the standard 8″ item on the SL), and it’s mounted atop the dashboard it doesn’t block the view out while displaying an image resolution much better than the segment leader’s. Nissan’s touch screen system is quite good and easy to understand with some of the important function buttons being actual buttons, i.e. not part of the screen itself but rather arrayed underneath.
The navigation system is decent, but the procedure to give it directions was a little frustrating, it being dependent on a specific order and keywords being used. It does in fact prompt you along but it’s not just as easy as touching the voice button and asking for directions to whatever address, rather needing to say commands such as what function is wanted, then what that function should do, and then finally explain it. It’s still far, far better than inputting anything manually and with familiarity will likely become second nature, however it doesn’t advance the status quo any.
Below the screen are the HVAC controls, the buttons for the seat heaters and steering wheel are here as well. At the bottom of the stack is a decently sized compartment that holds the phone but curiously does not contain a wireless charger, something quickly becoming a normal feature at this level. Just above this are the starter button, a small and larger USB outlets and a 12V outlet, something starting to disappear in some other vehicles but still useful for many.
The shifter is a fairly novel design, it’s electronic, it returns to its center position but works with a solid and positive action. Atop it is a Park button, and to set off in Reverse you hold the button on the side and nudge it forward. Then to shift to Drive just pull it backward and off you go. Pulling it back again puts in manual mode and the shifts themselves can be controlled via paddles behind the wheel (pull yet again to get back into automatic mode). The shifter is a very low-profile design, it looks and feels good and works surprisingly well without having to constantly second-guess your movements with it. Aft of the shifter are the parking brake button and the Terrain Mode selector dial with options for Normal, Eco, Sport, Snow, and Off-Road.
Below this console is open space with a sort of basket area. It’s nice to have the space down there, except I kept forgetting it was there and never used it for anything, out of sight, out of mind. I’d probably keep a box of tissues or a notepad down there I suppose, but larger items such as a satchel or bag could fit as well. Of course up top there are the requisite cupholders and a deep console bin under the armrest that opens in a split side-hinged left/right design. Nissan makes a big deal about the family-friendliness of the new Rogue and this helps if back seat occupants need something from it as opposed to the common rear-hinged console lids.
Plastics overall are decent quality and generally soft in the upper half, they do rely a bit too much on padded sheet vinyl of a sort that used to be fairly common a few years ago but is now being supplanted by richer grained and thicker feeling materials elsewhere. Knobs for controls such as climate and audio seem designed more for the aesthetic than comfort, they are glossy, smooth, low-profile and look good, however when actually used prove to necessitate the use of the tip of the fingertips rather than being able to grasp them and are just as hard around the perimeter as on the surface. The action is good as regards feedback and resistance but there is some wiggly-ness present, which cheapens the feel a bit. The buttons on the other hand were as expected and worked in the typical well-damped and solid manner.
The back seats though were good, able to recline and fold 60/40 and offering good comfort with enough legroom and especially headroom. Something not seen elsewhere in this class (at least that I’m aware of) is a whole separate set of HVAC controls for back here, making this a tri-zone system. Cupholders built into the armrest are functional (assuming only two occupants in the rear) and the retractable sunshades tend to be a popular item, at least in my household.
The rear doors open almost 90 degrees which would make it easier to load small kids and the higher roof helps here as well. There are also LATCH anchors in all three positions for child seats. In this trim level at least all the doors have touch sensitive pads in the exterior door handles so that any can be unlocked and opened if they key fob is in one’s pocket – as opposed to having to touch the front door’s pad twice to unlock all of them. Convenient for sure, though not quite as nice as just being able to grasp the handle itself and have it unlock automatically as is available in some others.
Out back in the cargo area, things are also quite functional with the added ability to fold the rear seats from the hatch end of the area. The floor is at a decent height and is covered with two panels where the norm is one. After a bit of puzzling with it, those panels can be lowered down even more to create a lower load floor but the difference is only a couple of inches, not enough to stow anything remotely bulky below it.
If the panels are used singly you could create a multilevel floor, the purpose of which being done with two separate panels escapes me though. Nissan calls it the “Divide-N-Hide” feature for what it’s worth. Below all of this is the spare tire. Of course the hatch is powered via buttons on the key fob and the hatch itself.
Please select Page 2 to continue
Pages: 1 2