Some cars take a steep learning curve to learn their tech and driving merits. Modes and settings and menus can unlock driving modes and goodies that make the vehicle feel more in-tune with expectations and performance needs.
The Nissan Rogue excels by being just perfect right out of the box. The Rogue is simply a solid, stylish and useful crossover that is well-priced and well-done from the first time you slip it into Drive.
But if it is right from moment one, how does it feel after a week at the wheel?
Let's dive in to the full review of the 2015 Rogue SV FWD -- a crossover with Audi-quality LED lighting as standard but a seven-seat, nav-equipped price of just above $28,000.
Normal review sections here: Exterior, Interior, Performance, Pricing and Summary.
The Rogue has matured dramatically from gen-one to gen-two. If the previous Rogue was aimed squarely at college student needs, the new Rogue grows into a late-20s/early-30s buyer sweet spot.
Most crossovers lose their coolness as they go family-oriented, but the Rogue has done the opposite. The 2015 model is far better looking than the first-gen Rogue, which is actually still available under the Rogue Select label.
The Rogue starts its premium design evolution right up front from the V-motion chrome grille and that sexy check-mark of LED DRLs. These are actual DRLs, without the irritating high-beam DRL of the Hyundai Sante Fe and others.
It is a solid chunk of light, with the LED headlight portion actually a full half-inch of lighting elements. Approximately twenty individual LED pods together form a continuus line of white light from afar -- looking cool and far more premium than its price suggests. These LEDs are cooler than the current Audi Q7's individual LED light squares around the lamps, and far brighter than any US crossovers can muster.
Yes, it is kindof silly to love the LED signature as much as we do, but the quality of the look from up close and far away embodies the Rogue's move upmarket (...in size, if not price.)
Longer and with more SUV style in its profile, the new Rogue really cuts a chic and on-trend silhouette. It is still fairly narrow but from the front and rear three-quarter angles, the Rogue easily fits in with the LWB style of pricier seven-seaters.
The roof rack is a contrast silver color, with adds some machoness to the smooth lines -- especially with the $290 optional crossbars.
In back, Rogue is conservative and clean in its look. A wide painted bumper area narrows gradually into the horizontal taillamps and smooth glasshouse. Bits of brightwork in the lamps dress up the design nicely, even though the light elements are old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. The exhaust pipe is effectively invisible under the chunky off-road rear bumper, and the cutout for a trailer hitch is a useful element which also enhances SUV credibility for this compact crossover.
In all, the Rogue is quite a cool SUV that looks new and stylish, with timeless details that will mature gracefully and feel fresh well into the 2020's. Scary as it is, that is less than 60 months away from today -- to speak in dealer-financing terms. =]
The cabin of the Rogue is an instantly friendly and easy place to be. A mild tan color dominates most of the cloth and trims, shifting to gloss silver and gloss black around the control areas. A black dashtop is soft and premium in textures, with high-mounted air vents pushing cold air all the way to the back row effectively.
'Easy' is the mantra in here, even with the $1600 SV Premium Pack and its many tech goodies. See the below 'Pricing' section to see the Rogue's window sticker for a full list of equipment on the test car. The key additions from the Premium pack are NissanConnect with Navigation in a seven-inch touchscreen. The Nav pack also adds AroundView monitor for 360-degree views when parking or backing up.
Active safety is very family-friendly, including the essentials of city helpers like Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Moving Object Detection. The Rogue skips active lane-keeping assist or adaptive cruise in the name of value, and they are not really missed, truth be told.
The Rogue just feels quiet, comfortable and confident from the drivers seat -- which is a mood that continues on the road.
Plenty of seat and steering-wheel adjustment makes the driving position a cakewalk, while a gauge-cluster info screen is a high-res unit with some cool surprise/delight features. One favorite is the turntable showing the Rogue on startup. The color of your car in the screen can be matched to the color of the car -- which is fun.
One feature we did not enjoy on the Rogue is its automatic locking feature. This snaps all the doors secure when you hit 5-mph or so. This is usually able to be disabled in most vehicles' settings -- but we had some trouble making the Rogue relax a bit. The end result is lots of tugging on the drivers door handle, then fumbling open the lock manually before ambling out. It also means the back doors and trunk are constantly locked. A slight irritant and something we would definitely disable as an owner.
The Rogue's core unique selling proposition versus SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape is its optional third row of seats. Along with the unloved Mitsubishi Outlander, the Rogue is the cheapest SUV offering seven seats.
The back row comes in a $970 SV Family Package consisting of an easy-tumbling third row and a switch to run-flat tires. This means the spare tire normally under the cargo area is dropped -- but the tradeoff seems well worth it.The SV Family pack comes with a temporary spare in place of a full-size spare on five-seat models.
No harshness from the runflat sidewalls to report. In fact, the runflats seem to improve the softly-sprung Rogue's handling around corners....
In terms of actual room in the back: the third row is comically tight. This is a place for kids under ten -- who wont mind the lack of toe room and the slim access via the second row in forward/folded entry/exit mode.
Overall, having seven seats gives growing families room to expand with the same SUV, plus makes carpooling simpler than a five-seater.
The one place the carryover Rogue Select and new Rogue proper are still the same is the engine. This 2.5-liter four-cylinder is a pretty good one, however. It makes 170 horsepower and 175-pound-feet of torque down low in the rev range.
Being a pretty big displacement four helps the Rogue feel much perkier on throttle than others in its segment. A big revelation is the xTronic CVT automatic, which people love to bash for its unusual shift points.
After a week in the Rogue, we forgot all about the CVT's lack of traditional upshifts and even started to really like its smooth and kick-down-free manners. Where a normal automatic needs a big boot of throttle to get moving with a hulking downshift, the xTronic is calmer and more relaxed. It is always in a super smooth and quiet overdrive gear, yet also always able to speed up effortlessly and without much powertrain effort.
The other huge benefit of the CVT in the Rogue is its fuel economy -- which is 26-city, 33-highway for a very-doable 28-mpg overall.
We drove the Rogue hard and with lots of full throttle starts, yet easily averaged over this 26-mpg base. Sprint pace is better than the class average of about 9.5-seconds to 60-mph. We ballpark the Rogue at around 8.2-seconds to 60-mph, which makes it much speedier than new, small-displacement engines in the Chevrolet Trax or Jeep Renegade.
The Rogue SV has a base price of $24,490 before its $860 destination charge. Three options on the test truck bump the as-deliered price to $28,170 --- which still truly feels like exceptional value.
The SV Premium Pack, roof rack crossrails and SV Family package are all money well spent. (Perhaps skip the crossrails unless you plan to put bikes or skiis up there.) Or include them. No wind noise noted from the roof rack.
The Rogue is fantastic value at this fairly loaded level. Even adding AWD will just make the Rogue kiss $30,000 -- which is a pretty incredible achievement. A 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk in the driveway now comes in a $28,500, for comparison. RAV4s and CR-Vs comfortably pass $33,000 these days, for comparison.
So, the Rogue is effortless and easy. It is not an SUV that takes time to learn and love. It just does its thing of calm and smooth driving right out of the box. That is a really refreshing mood for a compact crossover -- as most require some kind of funky driving position, constant attention to wandering steering, and unusual electronics.
Sure, our target clients for the Rogue are still young and hip. They understand tech and can learn new systems fairly quickly. But they are also embarking into the unknowns of parenthood.
On that mission from hipster to bib-washer, the Rogue will be a solid companion and partner along the way. It is efficient and parkable like no minivan, plus it broadcasts SUV coolness much louder than its mom/dad credentials.
Solid torque from the motor, silent suburban cruising and stable steering on the highway?
Just the 2015 Nissan Rogue helping to make kid-rearing as easy and fun as possible!