By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
In recent years, Nissan has done a lot of things right and the Nissan brand has grown chipping away at market share of the other manufacturers. During that time, one of the best things the Tennessee-based manufacturer has built is the Rogue.
The Roque brand debuted in 2007 with the second generation advancing the model in 2013. Since the beginning, the Rogue sales have grown constantly but making a dramatic increase after the introduction of the second generation. The Rogue has grown in to a family of compact SUV/crossovers which includes the original Rogue, the new Rogue Hybrid, and the new slightly smaller Rogue Sport. So far in 2017, Rogue has been in a horse race with and outselling the perennial category favorites the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
The addition of the Rogue Hybrid and Rogue Sport for the 2017 model year have given dealers new ammunition in the tight sales race, that could push the Rogue to the lead. We recently had a chance to drive both new models, and we can see why they are so popular.
At 184.5 inches long, the Nissan Rogue is just over a foot longer than the new Sport and rides it on a 2.3-inch longer wheelbase. The extra length allows the Roque to offer three rows of seating, although the third row is tight and best used for small children or adults in a pinch. Other than those minor variations, the two are very similar. The Rogue sales surpassed those of the Altima in 2016 making it Nissan’s bestselling model.
The 2017.5 Nissan Rogue Hybrid
New for the 2017.5 model year is the first-ever Rogue Hybrid. It has the same dimensions as the Rogue, except it only has two rows of seating. It’s available in two trim levels (SV and SL) and with standard front-wheel drive and optional all-wheel drive.
A 170-hp 2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine powers the Rogue. The Hybrid gets a smaller 141-hp DOHC 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine linked using Nissan’s Intelligent Dual Clutch System to a 40-hp (30kW) electric motor. Combined the engine and motor are rated at 176-hp giving the hybrid a slight power advantage over the standard Rogue. Both clocked a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of 9.1 seconds according to buff magazine numbers.
The Hybrid drives through Nissan’s Xtronic CVT transmission which has manual gear shifts to simulate a geared automatic transmission, plus it has a switch that allows the driver to select between a sport mode and Eco mode. Like most Hybrids, the Rogue charges the Lithium-ion battery using regenerative braking. The brakes work well, but have an unusual feel that takes a bit of getting used to.
EPA fuel economy estimates have a 25-mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined for the Rogue and 31/34/33 mpg for the Hybrid, giving it a respectable advantage over the regular Rogue. We averaged 33.4 mpg during the week of testing.
The Rogue has an extensive selection of available safety and convenience technologies including NissanConnect with navigation, mobile apps and services, voice recognition input, SirusXM Travel Link, and Traffic, Around View® 360-degree monitor with Moving Object Detection and Blind Spot Warning. Also new for 2017.5 is an available intelligent Cruise Control and Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection.
Plus, there are a suite of dynamic technologies including Active Trace Control, Active Engine Braking, and Active Ride Control to aid handling and ride comfort. These are in addition to all the normal brake and vehicle dynamics, traction control and hill start assist.
Even though the Rogue Hybrid fits into the EPA mid-size category it has the nimble feeling of a smaller vehicle on the road, it would have been better if the steering were a bit quicker to respond. Still, it’s comfortable darting in and out of traffic and running quickly over winding mountain roads. The four-wheel independent suspension helps it corners flat and maintain a well-balance nature.
The leather seating, which is standard in the SL trim level we tested, is attractive and comfortable. We like the elegant interior trim, but would like to have a larger navigation screen and see it mounted higher on the center stack. Controls are intuitive and conveniently placed. We especially liked the large selection of redundant controls on the face of the flat-bottomed steering wheel.
The 2017.5 Nissan Rogue SV Hybrid FWD has a base price of $27,580 including the destination charge. AWD is a $1,350 option, and the SL Hybrid starts at $32,500 and only $34,235 with all the available options. What makes the Rogue Hybrid especially appealing it the that the Hybrid price is only $1,000 more than the gasoline version, which means an owner will make up the extra cost of the hybrid much more quickly.
2017.5 Nissan Rogue Sport
Smaller SUV/crossovers have moved into the hot spot with consumers, so manufacturers like Honda, Toyota, Chevrolet, Buick, and many others have added smaller vehicles to their lineup. Nissan’s Rogue Sport entry into the category comes as a U.S. spec version of the European Nissan Qashqai.
One of the best features about the Sport is its good looks. There are no weird designs, just a slightly scaled down, two-row version of the Rogue, which is itself one of the most stylish entries in the category.
The smaller size gives the Sport handling advantages over the Rogue. It’s fun to drive, handles nicely, but does give up a little ride quality, with a slightly firmer suspension which uses a sophisticated four-wheel system with front struts and a multilink system in the rear.
Performance is moderate with the buff magazine testing showing a 0 to 60 mph time in the mid-nine second range. The Sport uses the same 141-hp 2.0-liter that powers the Rogue Hybrid, but without the boost from the electric motor. The Sport would be even sportier if it had an available turbocharger option, like the 215-hp 1.6-liter engine used in the Nissan Juke Nismo RS, for example. The only front-wheel drivetrain uses Nissan’s Xtronic CVT® with AWD as a $1,350 option.
Mechanically the Rogue Sport is very well equipped with features like four-wheel vented disc brakes, Active Trace Control (which uses the Electronic Stability Control to improve handling), Active Engine Braking and Active Ride Control.
Inside the available NissanConnect with Navigation provides a full range of infotainment services and SiriusXM adds Traffic and Travel Link to help you thorough traffic and along your travel route.
The available Platinum Package ($570) adds intelligent cruise control, lane departure warning and forward emergency braking. The Premium Package ($2,280) adds upscale features like a moonroof, LED headlights, high beam assist, blind spot warnings and several other safety enhancements.
The Nissan Rogue Sport is available in three trim levels: S, SV and SL. Pricing starts at $22,380, including the destination charge, for the S with FWD. The top SL model has a base price of $27,030 and can go as high as $31,625 with the two available option packages and AWD.
The Sport has an EPA fuel economy rating of 32 mpg highway and 25 mpg city. We averaged 28.8 mpg during our drive time.
Michael Bunce, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America, Inc., describes it like this, “The combination of the new Rogue Sport and the immensely popular redesigned 2017 Rogue will appeal to a broad audience and offers a wide spectrum of features and price points for SUV buyers,” he said. “While we expect Rogue to continue to appeal to owners with young families, Rogue Sport fills a need for singles and couples who want more space and versatility than the average sedan for everyday urban use and social activities.”
The smaller SUVs is great in the city – easy to park, good visibility and they can still carry a reasonable amount of gear or cargo. The Sport holds up to 61.1 cubic feet when the second row of seats is folded, or 22.9 cu.ft. with the rear seat in place. A handy Divide-N-Hide® Cargo system provides 18 adjustable variations between the cargo and occupant areas.
Nissan has a great deal going on with its expanded Rogue lineup, and might very well be moving to the front of the pack with these new models. For more on the Rogue go to https://www.nissanusa.com/ .