Mechanically Nissan has also decided to keep the basic formula the same. So the engine is again a 2.5liter 4-cylinder (although not the same actual one as before), this time producing 181hp as well as 181lb-ft of torque, available at 6,000 and 3,600 rpm respectively. Converting this power to motion is Nissan’s X-tronic CVT that uses simulated shifts to mask its nature along with an Intelligent All Wheel Drive system to route the power through all four wheels.
While in normal operation there really isn’t anything to criticize, driving it wasn’t an especially moving experience either though. I fully recognize that 95% or likely more of the population just requires a vehicle to get them wherever they are going and viewed in that context this Rogue does that very well. However, when accelerating, the simulated shifting seemed to make it rev to its peak and then for whatever reason decided to throw a few shifts in which led it to come across as a bit confused. If your foot is anything but steady it really tries to please by putting another shift on the board but not really seeming to make much of a difference in how the forward progress is delivered.
On the freeway it seemed to be laboring a bit to move the metal, of course I was generally traveling at 75-85mph and with a minimum of 5000 feet of elevation coupled with 181 horses and torques, and then figuring in the over 3,600lb curb weight before options, well, yeah, I suppose that isn’t too surprising. Noise was well suppressed and the ride was very acceptable without standing out abnormally either way.
That curb weight, while not light, isn’t really heavy either nowadays and it did feel relatively lithe in the way that really only (some) Asian vehicles do anymore. Turning was accomplished with aplomb, while there wasn’t ever much feel it did take a line and stuck to it fairly well.
We took it on a ski trip and while my son snowboarded all day long I drove up and down the mountain repeatedly, in the end that day venturing from our home at almost 5000′ to the ski area at 11,000′ and then down and back up twice to towns both at 7,000′ (Evergreen) on one side as well as 7,500′ (Idaho Springs) on the other. On the parts of the roads that were dry going down was a delight, with the Rogue eagerly diving into turns and carrying more speed than I would have expected, but on the way back up, well, it could have used more power or less “shifting” in the CVT. Using the manual mode wasn’t any more rewarding.
Playing around with the Terrain Mode selector was interesting especially since I had the opportunity to try in on dry, wet, and snow-covered roads. When in Normal mode, it defaults to FWD for economy’s sake and moves some power rearward upon heavy acceleration and more if slip is detected at the front. However in Snow mode, it defaults to always having some power at the rear and will push as much as 50% back there.
Off-Road mode seems to behave similarly when I tried it as well. That said, there is a noticeable difference in how it grips the road (or what’s covering it I suppose) between Normal and Snow. The system apparently also adjusts torque during cornering to help maintain the predicted line based on measuring the driver’s inputs.
While the Rogue didn’t come with winter tires and was instead equipped with Dunlop’s Grandtrek PT21 tires sized at 235/55-19 on 19″ alloys, on this Rogue these tires worked very well in snow that was deep enough to scrape the bottom at times when I ventured beyond the packed down areas of the roads. As a winter tire evangelist, I generally shy from the idea of using all-seasons year-round, however this worked far better than I had anticipated, assuming some modicum of self-control is practiced.
On a sharp turn with too much throttle it’ll still slide off line in snow, albeit very predictably with the ability to catch it and bring things back in line. Of course in braking they would easily be beat by a set of winters, but acceleration even uphill from a stop, normal cornering, and just cruising through deep snow with this setup were non-events. I suspect the technology helped as well, either way it’s good to see progress made in this area. Add a set of winter tires and the Rogue should be able to do extremely well in serious winter conditions.
While I wasn’t particular easy on the Rogue, I did manage to cover 443 miles with it. 250 miles of that were going skiing along with my various mountain town trips that day (so maybe 150 of it freeway), another 140 or so split among two trips eastbound along low trafficked county highways and then the balance of approximately 53 miles around town. Overall a fairly good split with the weather being around the freezing mark for most of it and the ski trip right in the middle of both the days and the mileage.
The Rogue is rated at 25City, 32Highway with an average of 28mpg. My result turned out to be 28.1, pretty much right on the money. The AWD system was engaged for a good chunk of that, coupled with the low temperatures and mountains I’d venture than many others in other places at a different time of the year would easily beat 30mpg. I had the average mpg display selected most of the time and it was remarkable how it just seemed to stay around the 28mpg mark, I believe the lowest I ever saw it at was 26 and the highest just over 30, with no huge swings.
The most budget-friendly Rogue S FWD starts at $25,650. The SL as I had with AWD starts quite a bit higher, at $33,400, at which point it must be noted that there are a lot of other vehicles available. The Rogue though was well packed with features at that price, with all manner of safety systems including an all around camera monitor (bird’s eye view) that came in handy when pulling in and out of my tightly packed garage, Brake Assist, Automated Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning and Intervention, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Intervention, Automatic High Beams, Rear Automatic Braking, and Intelligent Forward Collision Warning. This packet I believe puts the Rogue at the head of the class for technology features.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included, as is SiriusXM, an 8″ touchscreen, and a WiFi Hotspot. Air vents in the second row, Remote engine start, the TriZone Climate Control, Heated and Leather covered seats and steering wheel, Rear USB charge ports (2), Rear door alert, Rear Sonar, and Intelligent Cruise Control with Full Speed Range are also on board.
All of the exterior lighting is LED, the mirrors also feature LED indicators and have a Reverse Tilt-Down feature, the rear glass is tinted, and there is also the large opening Panoramic Sunroof as well as Roof Rails. ProPilot Assist is also included, this system is basically one where it can use the automatic cruise control along with the lane centering tech to help get you where you want to go with the vehicle doing much of the “driving”.
It’s not at all actual self-driving which does not exist yet, but basically makes some of the decisions while giving the driver the ability to have full control instantaneously, that driver is still required to be in control, i.e. hold the wheel, pay attention, etc.
As far as options, go, the big one (but not really a big spend for what’s included) is the SL Premium Package at $1,320. This upgrades the screen to 9″, makes the Apple CarPlay wireless, adds Front Sonar, a BOSE premium audio system with dual driver subwoofers, Traffic Sign Recognition and Nissan Door to Door Navigation with ProPilot Assist with Navi-Link.
Adding this enhances the standard ProPilot Assist system by using the Navigation system to help power the car through turns, off-ramps, etc. by adjusting the throttle position of the cruise control and adding the ability to use the Traffic Sign recognition to adjust the set speed. It also extends the time that the car is able to be stopped due to the Automated Cruise Control to a full thirty seconds before requiring a pedal tap or button push to resume forward progress again (three seconds is the default otherwise).
The Two-Tone premium paint added a further $695 to the bill, External ground lighting (when the door is opened or unlocked) another $350, Illuminated kick plates will have you kicking in another $400, Interior accent lighting (with adjustable choice of hues) goes for $350 and the Frameless Rearview Mirror with Universal Remote rounds things out with another $310 charge.
Add the obligatory Destination Charge of $1,095 to all of that and the Grand Total is $37,920. Nissan has improved the Rogue in many ways from its predecessor, much of it in an evolutionary manner, which makes sense. However it’s also “grown up” a bit, no longer is the Rogue and the segment as a whole any kind of bit player or considered a bunch of cheap vehicles. With the current generation most of these have become real family vehicles over the last half or so decade, hence the ever greater presence of technology and more sophistication in design as well as materials.
Nissan is on the comeback trail and the Rogue is its main breadwinner here, it’s done well so far, thus it’s difficult and perhaps not wise to risk a lot with it, just let it keep doing its thing. While the Rogue is a nicer and better package all around, and certainly competent, I believe that Nissan will actually start to see larger returns from some of its other newer products (of which there are many and several of which we have reviewed favorably).
There are other upcoming products that promise good things as well including a new Frontier as well as a new Pathfinder (without a CVT), those may speak to some that have fond memories of past Nissans as well as Datsuns before that.
Thank You to Nissan for letting us take a close look at the new Rogue along with providing a full tank of fuel.
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