Road Test

ROAD TEST: 2015 Nissan Rogue

The new Rogue compact CUV moves a notch closer to mid-size making more room inside

2015 Nissan Rogue

Introduced in 2008, the Rogue has become a key player in the Nissan lineup. Thanks to a whopping 75% increase in sales for the first three-quarters of the year it has moved into fourth place in the ultra-crowded and competitive compact CUV/SUV segment, behind perennial class favorites Escape, RAV4 and CR-V and ahead of the rest of the 20-plus vehicle pack. 

If Canadians have been flocking to Nissan stores to see and subsequently buy this vehicle, and obviously they have, what is it that they are finding so attractive? Value, quality, fuel economy, utility, reliability and high resale value, that's what – the Rogue offers it all.

Major makeover

The Rogue received a major makeover for 2014, which accounts for some of that sales success. While the original Rogue was Sentra-based, the second generation version is the first model to be based on the Renault/Nissan Common Family Module (CFM) architecture, which will serve vehicles produced by the two companies and sold in more than 190 countries around the world.

It comes in S, SV and SL trim levels with the S and SV available in a choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive and the SL in all-wheel drive form only. For 2015 the Rogue gets a number of minor enhancements including a fuel-efficient “eco” mode for the engine/transmission and a forward collision-warning system on the top trim level.

The Murano-inspired design won't set tongues wagging, as its Juke sibling does, nor is it likely to have people turning around for a second look but it is contemporary with a balance of style and functionality essential to this type of vehicle. There is, however, some degree of aggressiveness thanks to the limited front overhang and big wheels.

Its new body is sleeker and aerodynamics have been improved through optimization of a number of hidden panels and pieces – for example, a muffler spoiler, fuel tank deflector, covers beneath the rear suspension and engine and deflectors ahead of the front tires.

Built in Tennessee, it casts a much larger shadow than the first version. It sits 30-mm taller, 38-mm wider and rides on a wheelbase that is 15-mm longer.

As a result the new Rogue fudges the “compact” designation, moving a notch closer to mid-size. All of which results in more room inside for people and their belongings.

Commodious and comfortable

Both front and second-row seats are commodious and comfortable. The front seats deserve special mention. They were developed in conjunction with Yamasaki Laboratory at Keio University in Tokyo using information from a NASA study of the most relaxing position for extended space travel.

The Rogue’s “zero gravity” seats are said to provide “continuous support from the pelvis to the chest, helping reduce fatigue over long periods behind the wheel.” After a couple of eight hour days in the seats during a recent drive through several states on Route 66, I concur.

The seats also have another feature Canadians will appreciate over the next few months – Quick Comfort heating that immediately warms the body parts most sensitive to heat, the thighs and hips, and then increases heating of other body pressure points.

There is  66-mm more rear seat legroom than in the first generation – actually room for a small optional third row seat which is made almost useful by the ability to slide the second row forward as much as 230 mm.

The new Rogue has 906-litres of cargo space with the second seat in place and a whopping 1,982 litres with it folded down. Nissan says the seats and cargo area can be configured 18 ways. I didn’t attempt to prove that, but found the variable-height deck feature of the cargo compartment useful in for providing out-of-sight storage for taller items.

Entry and exit are effortless thanks to wide door openings and a tall roof but large C-pillars restrict visibility somewhat.

The passenger compartment is well finished with top-grade materials applied with tight gaps and smooth transitions. The overall impression is one of quality and care.

Innovative features

The Rogue, especially in high end SL trim with the Premium Package is packed with innovative features:

-Around-view monitor – four small wide-angle cameras provide a bird’s eye view of the entire perimeter of the vehicle making maneuvering in tight quarters a cinch
-Moving Object Detection – situational awareness is enhanced by the same cameras and a series of sensors that provide visual and audible warnings if moving objects are detected in the surrounding area.
-Active Trace Control – an electronic torque vectoring system that applies slight brake pressure to inside wheels to reduce understeer.
-Active Ride Control – reduces body motions over rough surfaces by slight variations in power and braking.

Standard equipment on my SL tester included: 18-in alloy wheels, power windows, locks, seats and mirrors, heated mirrors, power sunroof, leather seats, heated front seats, rear-view camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, tilt & telescope steering wheel, cruise control, satellite radio. 

It had one option – a $2,800 premium package that added auto-levelling LED headlights, a power liftgate, power passenger seat, nine-speaker Bose audio system, navigation system with 7-inch touch screen, around view monitor, moving object detection, blind-spot, lane-departure and forward collision warning systems.

Only one powertrain

All Rogues are powered by the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine mated with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) Accelerating from rest to 100 km/h takes more than 10 seconds putting it near the back of the pack.

The good news is that the latest version of the CVT erases most of my complaints about belt and pulley transmissions. Major improvements by supplier JATCO include simulated shifts.

Under wide open throttle, when most CVTs “motorboat” or keep the engine at a steady high rpm, this one allows it to climb to 6000 rpm before as many as seven “shifts,” each of which drops the revs to 5300 rpm. Kudos!

The AWD system standard on the SL drives the front wheels all the time, sending some power to the rears only when necessary. You can press a button to lock it in all-wheel-drive when confronted with deep snow or icy surfaces but the system will automatically drop out of the locked position above 40 km/h.

The 2015 Nissan Rogue is filled with innovation – and space making it worthy of comparison to the others in this crowded class.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Model: 2015 Nissan Rogue SL AWD

Price: $31,298 base, $35,848 as tested (freight included)

Engine: 2.5-litre DOHC four-cylinder, 170 horsepower, 175 lb-ft of torque

Transmission: Continuously Variable, automatic

Fuel Consumption: 9.5/7.4 L/100 km(city/highway)

Length: 4,630 mm

Width: 1,840 mm

Wheelbase: 2,706 mm

Mass: 1,643 kg

Key Competitors: Chevrolet Equinox, Dodge Journey, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Jeep Cherokee, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, VW Tiguan

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