In the competitive and crowded world of crossover vehicles, each participant strives to combine fashion and function, which isn’t easy when you’re crossing a car with an SUV. At least with an SUV, you’ll expect the design to be large with a high seating position and generous seating and cargo space.
Crafting a good looking crossover, arming it with cargo space and functionality and comfortable seating is something that Nissan has done well with the 2015 Nissan Rogue. Want proof? Rogue sales are up 24.2% for 2015 through September, they’ve doubled unit sales from the original 2008 version and won IIHS Top Safety Pick awards this year and last year.
I was given the top end SL AWD trim with the $2,800 Premium Package to tote around in for a week resulting in a solid mix of city and highway travelling.
Starting beneath the hood, all 2015 (and 2016) models are equipped with a 170 horsepower, 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder engine producing 175 lb-ft of torque through Nissans famous CVT transmission.
I’m slowly becoming fond of the CVT, not only because of the fuel savings (9.5 city/7.4 hwy/8.5 combined for L/100km), and not only because of the smooth acceleration. Before you anti CVT-ers start throwing popcorn and asking for a refund on this review, I’m aware it’s not especially racy but there were no issues getting up to highway speeds. In Nissan’s defence and as with most new technology, the CVT has progressed through recent years and it suits the Rogue quite nicely. The clunky and sluggish “two left feet” feel has been replaced with fluid dancing shoes which gives this people mover a boost in consideration if you’re in the market for a great looking crossover.
Keep in mind that when you’re trudging through congested city traffic, it’s not a race to the next red light, regardless of what some other drivers believe. As mentioned, there wasn’t any issue with highway on ramps. While you’ll see the RPM gauge reach for the sky at the initial kick, know that it’s simply doing its job and will sit comfortably in the mid-2000’s once you’ve found your cruising speed.
The exterior design is sleek and shapely offering strong, elegant stance while Nissan’s boomerang LED day running lights are simply gorgeous and frame the halogen headlights nicely. Sitting higher off the ground allows easy entry/exit into the Rogue and sure beats bending over or lifting yourself into the vehicle. The SL AWD comes with 18” tires and a power lift gate, which comes in handy when your hands are full. The rear doors open wide as well making it easy for passengers to jump in and out.
Inside, those fantastic NASA inspired leather “Zero Gravity” seats won’t quite take you to Mars but they will give you and your passengers tons of support and comfort. If there was no risk of being arrested for theft, I’d have taken the driver seat and used it for my new office chair in my fancy new office.
My power seat moved six ways (plenty for me) and the higher seating position is ideal for those who need/want to be a few inches higher up.
Nissan’s clever “Divide-N-Hide” rear seats fold down flat and split 40/20/40 so you can channel your inner “Tetris Master” when you’re packing the car. With the rear seats up, you have 39.3 cu.ft. and a healthy 70 cu.ft. with the seats down, so there’s room for all sorts of goodies from sports gear to groceries to musical equipment.
The available 7.0 inch touch screen infotainment system responds well and is easy to operate, along with a better-than-most voice recognition system.
Safety-wise, there’s an option for the very cool and safe around view vehicle monitoring system, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, moving object detection, forward collision warning and, of course the popular, back-up camera, which is standard on all Rogue trims.
Audio-wise, the top end trim (SL) comes with nine-speakers, two sub-woofers, all powered by the sound experts at Bose.
The ride quality is extremely smooth and comfortable with little road noise bleeding into the cabin. The beauty of any crossover vehicle is the car-like driving feel, which allows you to enjoy your hand-over-hand steering behaviour on rural roads and maintaining your higher seating position for the “I want an SUV but don’t really want the size of an SUV” needs. The All Wheel Drive system will definitely come in handy during winter months and with the addition of snow tires, you’ll likely be feeling sorry for those who are spinning their wheels.
For the Canadian consumers, I’d like to have seen AWD come standard on all models.
While still in its relative infancy, the Rogue has come a long way since its 2008 debut. In its second generation, the styling, technology, ride quality and overall appeal of the Rogue scores high with me.
With around $10K separating the base from the high trim, there’s something for many potential crossover buyers. For 2016, there will be a new SV Special Edition to bring the trim offerings to four.
The only thing standing in the way of the Rogue is finicky Canadian consumers’ love it or hate it mentality towards the CVT. But as we’re ever conscious of spending less time and money at gas stations and a wholesale change in how our cars drive, expect the CVT to stick around for the long haul.
SL AWD $31,298
Freight & PDE: $1,750
Premium Package $2,800
LED Headlights with auto leveler
Power Lift gate
4-way power passenger front seat
Bose audio system – 9 speakers 2 woofers
Radio data system
Speed sensitive volume control
Navigation with 7.0 inch color touchscreen with voice recognition for audio and navigation
Sirius XM Traffic
Around view monitor
Blind spot warning, lane-departure warning, moving object detection, forward collision warning
Yay: Styling, impressively comfortable NASA seats, available technology, ride comfort, available technology
Nay: AWD would we a welcome addition on all trim levels, those weary of a CVT may overlook the Rogue