By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
The Rogue name may be rooted with the likes of scoundrels and scallywags, but we think the Nissan Rogue is much more heroic.
All new in 2014, Nissan?s compact SUV/crossover is so popular it has been setting sales records and is Nissan?s second best-selling model in the U.S. after the Altima. The Rogue has also won several popularity contests since its rebirth and now displays trophies that proclaim it “Best SUV,” “Best Family Car” and “Best Value” by leading consumer and automotive online media organizations.
Originally introduced in 2008, the Rogue was completely redesigned last year on the new Nissan/Renault Common Modular Family platform. Using this new architecture allowed Nissan engineers to deliver a top value in the compact crossover segment. Plans call for the Rogue to ultimately be sold in 190 countries worldwide.
The new architecture also allowed the 2015 Nissan Rogue to be offered with an optional three-row/seven passenger configuration. This extra space allowed interior engineers to create a flexible passenger and cargo space with an innovative EZ-Flex? seating system which allows every seat, except the driver?s, to be folded flat for maximum cargo capacity. There?s also a Divide-N-Hide? Cargo System that provides 18 adjustable variations (two-row models) between the cargo and occupant areas ? including out-of-sight storage and a lower deck to handle taller items.
The first thing we noticed about the new Rogue interior was the upscale look and feel. The front bucket seats are the same comfortable ?Zero Gravity? design used in the Altima to help reduce fatigue on long trips. Leather seating is even standard on the SL trim levels like the one we drove. There?s also available Quick Comfort? heated front seats that are designed to warm certain more sensitive body parts almost instantly.
The 2015 Rogue gets a full technology treatment with connectivity and smartphone integration including the NissanConnectSM with Navigation and Mobile Apps on the 7-inch color touch-screen. It also has voice recognition, NavTraffic, NavWeather, SiriusXM? and Travel Link available.
Driver confidence is improved with technologies like the exclusive Around View?Monitor with Moving Object Detection. It uses four super-wide angle cameras to show a 360-degree ?birds-eye? view around the Rogue. It also has available Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Warning systems.
Looks are important, and the new Rogue looks great with dramatic sculptured lines and a Nissan family-style grille treatment. The new body, some underbody aerodynamic designs, and spoilers all contribute to cut the turbulence and produce a very good 0.33 coefficient of drag.
Like many new vehicles the Nissan Rogue wears the latest in distinctive LED daytime running lights. LED headlights with an automatic leveling device are also available as are other features like heated outside mirrors, power liftgate and panoramic moonroof.
All of the Nissan compact crossovers are equipped with a 170-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with continuously variable valve timing. It?s available in standard front-wheel drive and optional ($1,350) all-wheel drive both with a standard continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Almost every vehicle Nissan produces has a CVT, and they build one of the industry?s best. They have a much more positive feel than many we driven. The transmission also has a driver switchable control to change the mode from Eco to Sport shifting patterns. Hill start assist, Hill Descent Control and limited slip are standard on all models. All models also have four wheel ventilated disc brakes and all the electronic brake assists like Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Brake Assist and Anti-lock brakes.
The Rogue may not handle quite as well as some of the sportier Nissan models, but it handles better than most of its competitors thanks to features like Active Trace Control and Active Ride Control which automatically applies certain brakes for better cornering control and smooth out engine torque characteristics.
Nissan claims the best-in-class EPA fuel economy rating of 25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined. We actually averaged 26.9 mpg during a week of mixed driving conditions. We think one weak link in the Rogue package is performance; it takes 9.1 seconds to make a 0 to 60 mph run. That?s OK for most driving conditions, but it takes more planning to make quick merges into fast-moving traffic or for passing safely.
The 2015 Nissan Rogue is available in three trim levels starting with the S trim at $23,675, including the destination charge. The SV starts at $25,375 and the top of the line SL at $29,165. All-wheel drive adds $1,350. The SL AWD with the one available Premium Package (moonroof, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, LED headlights, Blind Spot and Moving Object Detection) tops out at $32,505.
We like the 2015 Nissan Rogue. It could use a little more performance ? a turbocharger option would make it sing. And as for the name, we think ?Rogue? translates better to ?a clean fresh look, impressive versatility and outstanding value.?