2018 NISSAN ROGUE SL PLATINUM AWD ROAD TEST REVIEW
June 14 2018, Southside Nissan
SMOOTH, EFFICIENT AND IT ALMOST DRIVES ITSELF
The Nissan Rogue has long been one of Canada's most popular compact SUVs, but it's now top of the heap south of the 49th.
Tops in the U.S. means it's also the best-selling compact SUV in North America overall, its U.S. and Canadian combined sales reaching 237,606 units over the first six months of 2018 compared to 224,996 for last year's sales leading Toyota RAV4. While many factors can play into market success, another week with a Rogue SL Platinum AWD reminded me of a number of very likely reasons it's doing so well.
First of all, the Rogue remains a great looking crossover SUV. Last year's stylish mid-cycle update kept it current, with changes including a broader more "U" shaped version of the Nissan "Vmotion 2.0" grille, adding more ruggedness to the otherwise sleek design, while its headlights received more sophisticated inner complexity thanks to quad beams and standard signature LED daytime running lamps. Additionally, full LEDs were made available to the SL Platinum shown here, while a reworked lower front fascia was included with all trims, receiving a narrow strip of LED fog lights with both SV and SL Platinum models. Less dramatic modifications were made down each side and at the rear, yet the result is a much more assertive looking compact SUV.
NEW STANDARD ADVANCED SAFETY FEATURES MAKE 2018 ROGUE HARD TO BEAT
This said the 2017 update did more than just refresh Rogue styling, it also improved interior refinement, modernized some technologies, and made a bevy of advanced driver assistance features available. Safety has even been strengthened further for 2018, with Forward Collision Warning, Forward Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert now standard across the entire Rogue line, while you'll still need to step up to SL Platinum trim to have Pedestrian Detection added to the Forward Emergency Braking system, plus Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Moving Object Detection, automatic high beam headlights, and adaptive Intelligent Cruise Control with full speed range and hold.
Even bigger news this year is the addition of Nissan's ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous "hands-on-wheel" driving system to SL Platinum trim. This advanced feature has the ability to almost completely take over driving functions on the highway, even coming to a full stop in bumper-to-bumper traffic or changing lanes after you signal a desire to do so. To be clear, this is a hands-on system, not designed to work while your hands are on your lap, behind your head with the driver's seatback reclined, and certainly not holding a smartphone, tablet or book. That's the stuff of a fully autonomous driving future, this system alternatively providing steering assistance to help reduce fatigue over a long distance.
EASY TO USE PROPILOT ASSIST AUTOMATICALLY CHANGES LANES
So go ahead and have some fun with it, because it's really cool to watch the steering wheel turn on its own while your Rogue remains safely within its lane, and it only needs you to turn on the adaptive cruise control, set a given top speed, and press a blue button on the steering wheel to initiate.
Also notable, ProPilot Assist will change lanes automatically just by flicking the turn signal. After analyzing the adjacent lane and finding a safe entry point it quickly moves to the right or left as per your signal indication. I could really see this feature assisting new drivers that are sometimes intimidated to change lanes at highway speeds.
So kudos to Nissan for being the first mainstream volume brand to bring semi-autonomous "hands-on-wheel" driving to market. I'm sure it will improve with each new application, something Nissan has promised as it rolls out more autonomous capability in the future, including its ability to be used in city traffic.
SL PLATINUM TRIM PULLS ROGUE UP NEAR LUXURY CLASS SUVS
Additional standard SL Platinum features not yet mentioned include 225/55R19 all-season tires on 19-inch alloys, an electromechanical parking brake, memory for the side mirrors and front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, a leather shift knob, leather upholstery, dual-zone auto climate control, an Around View parking monitor, navigation, SiriusXM Traffic, NissanConnect with mobile apps, a really good Bose audio system with nine speakers including two subs, a powered panoramic glass sunroof, and a motion-activated powered liftgate, plus it's the only trim in the line that comes standard with all-wheel drive. That's a significant load of high-end features for $37,098.
There's just one factory upgrade available with the SL, but the Platinum Reserve Interior package appears worth the extra $500 if you like rich appearances. It adds unique Tan leather-appointed seats with special quilted leather inserts. Alternatively, my tester's Pearl White exterior paint makes no-cost Almond leather available, but it looked great in Charcoal black as well.
Just so you know, you'll only need to have the proximity-sensing key fob in your pocket or purse to access either front door or rear liftgate, which is also power operated. Nissan's Intelligent Key comes with pushbutton ignition in $28,598 SV trim, with other features from this mid-range model including fog lamps, LED turn signals on the side mirror housings, roof rails, rear privacy glass, remote engine start, an eight-way power driver's seat including two-way powered lumbar, a retractable cargo cover, and more.
Notably, you can also choose a special blacked-out Midnight Edition, a nice upgrade for those wanting a sportier looking Rogue. While based on the SV, it also includes that trim's otherwise $2,600 Technology package, which adds the dual-zone auto HVAC, Around View monitor, navigation, leather, powered liftgate, Moving Object Detection, and more from other trims, all for $34,198.
THE BASE ROGUE S OFFERS LOADS OF FEATURES FOR SUPERB VALUE
Features pulled up to my top-line SL Platinum model from $26,298 base S trim include auto on/off headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, heated power-adjustable side mirrors, 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 backup camera with dynamic guidelines, an AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio system with satellite radio, USB and aux ports, Quick Comfort heated front seats (they heat up really fast), four cargo tie-down hooks, a rear seat pass-through, all the usual active and passive safety features, and much more.
Once inside I'm sure you'll appreciate the care and attention Nissan has given to the cabin. It actually comes close to matchin g some premium brands. Its entire dash-top and front door uppers are made from a nice soft padded synthetic, while Nissan also finished the instrument panel ahead of the front passenger with padded and French-stitched leatherette. Additionally, the driver gets a leather-wrapped flat-bottom sport steering wheel with aluminized spokes, plus a leather metal and glossy black shift knob, a leatherette shift boot, and plenty of piano black lacquered surfacing around that shifter and across the centre stack. The door panel trim looks more like carbon fibre, but it matches nicely and dresses up the look well, while the armrests at each side and at centre feature stitched padded leatherette to match the instrument panel bolster and the same treatment on each side of lower console, this last feature not only looking good, but also preventing chafing of the driver and front passenger's inside knees.
RICH INTERIOR DETAILING JOINED BY IMPRESSIVE ELECTRONIC INTERFACES
Analogue gauges with excellent backlighting are joined by a large colour multi-information display directly in front of the driver, providing easily accessible information on key functions, including the aforementioned ProPilot Assist system.
Over on the centre stack, a 7.0-inch touchscreen provides most everything someone buying into a premium-level compact SUV could want. Its resolution is good, while the infotainment interface is excellent. It includes easy connectivity for your smartphone and streaming audio, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard across the line, plus the audio section gets bright and colourful thanks to album graphics when using satellite radio.
The navigation system is also impressive, with 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. The upgraded parking camera was equally impressive, as it features a split screen that shows the usual rear view with active guidelines, as well as a top view with 360-degree surround visuals.
Just below the touchscreen is a nicely sorted dual-zone automatic HVAC interface, with large well-made chrome-trimmed knobs and tight fitting buttons, plus a sizeable display screen.
COMFORTABLE AND ACCOMMODATING FROM FRONT TO BACK
The driver's seat controls provide plenty of adjustment, while the seat itself is very supportive, cupping the small of the back nicely and providing ample side bolstering for this class of vehicle. Headroom and side-to-side spaciousness won't likely be a problem for most body types either.
It certainly wasn't for my regular sized five-foot-eight, medium-build frame, and with the driver's seat positioned ideally I climbed into the back to check rear roominess, only to find that I still had loads of space to move around, with about eight inches ahead of my knees, plus plenty of space under the seats for the big boots I was wearing, allowing my legs to almost fully stretch out. Likewise, there was about three and a half inches left over above my head and three next to my shoulder and the window, plus about the same from my hips to the door panel.
That rear door panel gets finished almost as nicely as the one up front, while reading lamps for each outboard passenger, and large vents on the backside of the front console made the rear seating area even more agreeable. Another positive is the panoramic sunroof that really opens up the rear compartment from a visual perspective, while I should also point out that back seat visibility is excellent, as the side windows are tall and extend quite far toward the rear. Lastly, the Rogue includes a folding rear armrest with dual cupholders that doubles as a centre pass-through.
That helps to make the Rogue a cargo hauler's dream, not to mention its 60/40 split seatbacks that open up the rear storage area from 1,112 to 1,982 litres, making it one of the more capacious compact SUVs available. The rearmost portion is also quite flexible, its standard two-piece adjustable Divide-N-Hide shelving system starting off down on the floor, capable of being moved up in tandem to make a flat loading area when the seats are lowered, or alternatively set up higher for a shelf above a larger load below. It's a smart, innovative cargo system that really sets the Rogue apart.
A REAL SMOOTH, EFFICIENT OPERATOR OUT ON THE ROAD
Yes, the Rogue moves away smartly from stoplights and has no problem passing slower moving traffic on the highway, yet it's a relative miser with fuel, its Transport Canada rating an estimated 9.7 L/100km in the city, 7.4 in the city and 8.7 combined with as-tested AWD, or an even thriftier 9.2 city, 7.0 highway and 8.2 combined with FWD models.
Similar to the Rogue's straight-line performance, its suspension setup is ideally comfortable, so sit back and enjoy the ride. Don't get me wrong as it can snake through a set of fast-paced corners quickly enough, holding on commendably, but I like its overall refined character most of all. And let's face it. Comfort takes priority in this category, hence why the Nissan Rogue is finding so much success.
To that end the 2018 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum is a wonderful all-round people pleaser, providing peppy performance, superb economy, a wholly comfortable, fully featured, spacious interior that's big on luxury, and some pretty cool new tech. It should definitely be near the top of your shortlist, or right on top if you're looking for a compact SUV with the ability to actually take over some of your driving duties.