2017 NISSAN ROGUE SL PLATINUM AWD ROAD TEST REVIEW
November 15 2017, Southside Nissan
A SUPERB COMPACT SUV FOR EXCELLENT VALUE
All you need is one look to appreciate why the Nissan Rogue is so popular. Its design is ideally balanced between sporty and elegant, with just enough rugged truck-like SUV presence to beef up what's actually a sleek and efficient car-based crossover underneath.
How popular is it? At the close of May 2017, the Rogue was the number one seller in North America. Why does being number-one matter? If you remember the once-popular TV game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire", the most accurate answers always came from the audience, and those who vote with their wallets are even more likely to be right.
The Rogue is Nissan's biggest seller in both the U.S. and Canada, and therefore its most important model, so expect the Japanese automaker to keep piling on the upgrades year after year, while it continues to pull out all the stops in marketing, pricing, and layering on incentives to keep it numero uno.
NEW STYLING AND FEATURES FOR 2017
Of critical importance to its rise in popularity is a 2017 model year mid-cycle makeover that updates styling, improves interior refinement, modernizes technologies, and adds a host of active safety features. Visually, the Rogue moves into 2017 with mostly the same flowing sheet metal as before, but its V-shaped grille has been flattened into more of a "U" and then trimmed out in more detail so as to simultaneously toughen up and sophisticate its image, plus its headlight clusters get more complexity along with quad beams and unique LED DRL signatures, and its lower front fascia is likewise given more intricate detailing along with horizontal LED fogs in uppers trims.
Changes down each side and in back are more subtly applied, the former including chrome mouldings adorning the otherwise matte black rocker extensions, and the latter including revised LED taillights and a reshaped bumper featuring a bolder black cap that protrudes outward and upward from below, once again giving this crossover SUV a bit more rugged truck-like appeal.
Lastly, all Rogue trims get new wheels that seem inspired by its larger mid-size Murano sibling, including 17-inch steel rims on the base S, 17-inch alloys on the SV, and 19-inch alloys with black painted pockets on the top-line SL. New colours often make just as dramatic a change without nearly as much expense, so therefore Nissan gives 2017 Rogue buyers the option of Caspian Blue, Monarch Orange, and our tester's stunning Palatial Ruby, plus a bevy of hues carried forward from last year's model.
SL PLATINUM PROVIDES A NEW LEVEL OF COMPACT SUV LUXURY
Moving inside, Nissan has updated the Rogue with a new flat-bottomed steering wheel rim that provides greater space for the driver's legs when sliding in and out and looks pretty sporty to boot, while it's now heatable in upper trims. The shifter's leather-clad boot is new too, plus the Rogue can now be had with remote engine start as well as memory for the driver's seat and side mirrors.
Interior styling changes include new dash panels, door skins and armrests, while my tester's new $500 SL Platinum Reserve interior package adds a stitched leather dash pad and quilted leather upholstery in classy Premium Tan, that looks more like caramel or saddle brown.
As for refinement, the new Rogue certainly delivers a more premium look and feel inside. A soft touch dash top extends downward into the instrument panel, the latter portion of my top-line SL Platinum AWD tester finished in stitched leatherette on a nicely padded backing ahead of the front passenger. The front door uppers are soft synthetic as well, while Nissan finished the armrests in the same saddle brown as the dash insert front to back, and of course the leather seat upholstery also gets the colourful treatment with a little black on the bolsters for a classy two-tone motif. It makes for a rich looking cabin, especially when contrasting my tester's aforementioned ruby red metallic paintwork, while other interior highlights include glossy piano black inlays and tasteful brushed metallic trim with splashes of chrome.
My top-tier loaner featured a large colour TFT multi-information display between its otherwise analogue primary gauges, plus a 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen over on the centre stack that comes complete with a very useful backup camera that actually splits in two to show the usual rear view with active guidelines as well as a top view with 360-degree surround visuals. Additionally, the navigation system provided accurate directions via clear, detailed mapping. It even took us via the quickest route, and by so doing reminded me of alternative choices I hadn't used for a long time.
STANDARD SL PLATINUM FEATURES ABOUND
Now that I'm talking features, some standard SL Platinum items not yet mentioned include 225/55R19 all-seasons, LED headlamps with auto high beams, memory for the side mirrors, memory seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a heated leather-wrapped multifunction sport steering wheel, a leather shift knob, dynamic cruise control, dual-zone auto climate control, an Around View parking monitor, navigation, SiriusXM Traffic, NissanConnect with mobile apps, a great sounding Bose audio system with nine speakers including two subs, Radio Data System (RDS) and speed-sensitive volume control, a four-way powered front passenger's seat, a powered panoramic moonroof, and a motion-activated powered liftgate, plus it's the only trim in the line that comes standard with all-wheel drive. An impressive load of features for $36,298 plus freight and dealer fees, but wait it gets better.
At least as important for families with safety as their top priority, the 2017 SL Platinum now comes standard with a host of new active safety features such as Forward Collision Warning, Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Moving Object Detection, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, these features helping this top-tier Rogue earn a best possible Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the IIHS. Some of these active safety features are available on lower trims as well.
Of course, all the usual active and passive safety features get pulled up from the $25,948 base model, the tire pressure monitoring system even including an individual tire pressure display as well as Easy-Fill Tire Alert to remind when a tire needs attention. Other features pulled up from lesser trims including an immobilizer and alarm, hill start assist, auto on/off headlights, LED daytime running lights, fog lamps, LED taillights, heated power-adjustable side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, splash guards, roof rails, UV-reducing solar glass, rear privacy glass, remote engine start, proximity-sensing keyless access with pushbutton ignition, tilt and telescopic steering, variable intermittent wipers, illuminated vanity mirrors, LED map lights, mood lighting, overhead sunglasses storage, micro-filtered air conditioning, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, hands-free text messaging, a rearview monitor, AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio, satellite radio, USB and aux ports, a six-way powered driver's seat with powered lumbar, Quick Comfort heated front seats (they really do heat up quickly), four cargo tie-down hooks, and much more.
GREATER INTERIOR ROOM MAKES FOR A COMFORTABLE CABIN WITH MORE CARGO SPACE
One of the benefits the Rogue has over some of its competitors is interior spaciousness. It's slightly longer than the average compact and provides a longer wheelbase for additional rear legroom. The rear seat moves back and forth plus reclines, and of course folds completely flat in the usual 60/40 configuration too, although the way Nissan incorporates the centre folding armrest makes for a rear seat pass-through that could easily accommodate long items like skis while two outboard passengers enjoy greater comfort.
At 1,112 litres there's a bit more cargo space behind those rear seats than average, while it allows for a sizeable 1,982 litres when those seatbacks are folded down. Even better, a "Divide-N-Hide" partition shelf lets you stack belongings in tiers for better space utilization, almost doubling floor space for certain types of cargo. For taller items, simply remove the shelves and slide them into position on the floor. Of course, a retractable cargo cover is also included.
The Rogue's 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine makes an energetic 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque, with either the front wheels or all four fed power through a fuel economy-focused continuously variable transmission (CVT) as standard, which I think works ideally for this class. It's smooth, reliable and more efficient than some of its peers' conventional automatic transmissions. Clearly, comfort is high on compact SUV buyers' priority lists, and the Rogue delivers this in spades. Certainly it's quick enough off the line and provides strong passing power on the highway, with the focus once again on smooth, linear straight-line performance.
STRONG PERFORMANCE AND ESPECIALLY ENJOYABLE COMFORT
I found the Rogue especially pleasurable around town, where its compliant suspension and overall agility made for an easy vehicle to drive through traffic. It rides on a fully independent suspension setup with the usual MacPherson struts up front and multi-link design at the rear, plus stabilizer bars at both ends, and I must say it all works flawlessly on the open road as well. The Rogue bends into fast-paced corners with confidence and more importantly leaves those curves behind safely thanks to a controlled, stable stance that's eased along via plenty of standard active electronic safety components working in harmony with nicely sorted mechanical underpinnings. On that note the SUV's four-wheel disc brakes lend well to its straight-line and handling characteristics too, the Rogue truly living up to Nissan's sporty brand heritage, albeit with an overall leaning toward smooth comfort.
Three unique Nissan technologies that help deliver the type of even-keeled performance that mainstream compact SUV buyers appreciate include Active Ride Control that uses the engine and braking system to deliver a smoother driving experience by moderating the fore and aft pitching motion often caused from bumpy road surfaces; Active Trace Control that aids handling confidence by automatically applying braking pressure to each wheel in order to maintain a chosen cornering line and smoothly keep control; and Active Engine Braking that makes driving easier and more comfortable by adding small amounts of engine braking to assist the ABS-enhanced four-wheel discs and thus reduce the frequency and effort needed to slow down. All of these features quietly go about their business unnoticed, but collectively make a big difference to daily life with the Rogue.
A GREAT VALUE AT PURCHASE PLUS ESPECIALLY LOW RUNNING COSTS
All of this smooth operation adds up to especially efficient fuel usage, the Rogue's five-cycle Transport Canada rating equaling 7.0 L/100km city and 9.2 highway in FWD trim, or 7.4 city and 9.6 highway with as-tested AWD.
As far as I'm concerned, the Rogue must be entertained if you're in the market for a compact SUV from a volume brand. If you've got a little more coin at your disposal, this SL Platinum AWD is the way to go, although Nissan does a good job of providing value for money throughout the Rogue's range, with a very competitive base model and well priced intermediary trims. You won't be sorry for taking a closer look.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.