2015 Nissan Rogue SV AWD Review
By Ken Glassman
Nissan’s sales growth has been aggressive over the last several years, and one of the main reasons for that is the popularity of the Rogue, now their second leading volume model, trailing only the mid-size Altima sedan. And like the Altima, the rogue swims in a large pond of competitors. But steady improvements over the years has added up to a fine small SUV that combines strong fuel economy with a right-size vehicle that can span the spectrum from entry level to near luxury with a broad range of option packages and both two and all-wheel-drive offerings.
The Rogue underwent a major facelift in 2014, and the 2015 model is much the same. Your author owns a 2013 model from the previous generation, and has been very happy with the vehicle. It is the wife’s every day driver, but we drive it often, and have clocked 18,000 trouble-free miles. So getting a chance to spend a week in the current iteration gives us the chance to evaluate the changes for better or worse.
As with the previous generation, the Rogue offers only one engine, a 2.5-liter four cylinder that makes 170 horsepower, and a generous 175 pound-feet of torque. You won’t win any drag races with the Rogue – zero to 60 times are in the 8 second range, which is about standard for the class, but the torque number makes the engine feel peppy. The engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) for smooth operation and better fuel economy. One complaint with the last generation Rogue was that the drivetrain was a bit noisy, especially under hard acceleration. The current model is a bit quieter, but not as much as we’d hoped for. And while the 2015 rates gas mileage as 25 city, and 32 highway, real world numbers are closer to 22 and 30 respectively. But it is about 2mpg better than our older model.
The Rogue rides on an all-independent suspension, and coupled with electric power steering provides a smooth ride. Understeer is curbed by a new feature, Nissan’s Active Trace Control. It can adjust the torque or add some brake to an inside wheel while cornering. The result is that the new model steers better, and corners more crisply that the last generation while riding on 17” wheels. 18” wheels are fitted to the top of the line SL model.
The current model is just slightly larger than the old, with 0.6 inch increase in wheelbase, 1.2 inches taller, and a bit wider. But the cabin is very much upgraded and feels larger, and all doors open more widely. The dash is redesigned. Gone are the round HVAC vents, in favor of rectangular ones. That’s too bad as the round ones are more effective at directing the air flow. But the feel of the interior is a bit more elegant and conservative. Our older Rogue is the up-model SL version with leather seats, but the front seat bottoms are about an inch too short for long range comfort. Our 2015 SV tester had heated cloth seats that were as comfortable as any seat I’ve experienced in a long time. And the fabric is both handsome and soft to the touch. And on those frigid Chicago winter mornings, cloth seats are much more inviting when you first sit down, until the very effective heated seats warm up.
One small touch added to the redesigned interior makes a huge difference in the satisfaction of the ownership experience. The 2015 model has an open cubby at the base of the center stack with a 12-volt outlet, a USB port and AUX plug. That cubby, absent on the older model, can hold your smart phone and a music device so they are easily accessible and easily charged. With our older model, the plug to charge is located inside the center console, and there is no good place to put a charged phone other than in one of the cupholders.
The center stack is nicely laid out with the Nav screen above an easy to use set of controls for the HVAC system. The dual gauges in front of the driver are large and feature a large info screen between them to toggle through mileage and setting functions easily.
Another nice touch is that the comfortable fold-down split rear seats now recline and are placed on a 9” track, so the seats can be moved fore and aft, if more cargo room is required. It is also necessary because there is a 3rd row seating option, unique to a vehicle of this size, but only available on the S and SV models. While the test car didn’t have this option, we made a quick trip to the local dealer to see a Rogue equipped with it. As expected, the third row will only work for a child just out of a car seat, and before they enter middle school. That is an option we’d take a pass on. And by the way, the front passenger seat also folds flat to offer great cargo room for long items.
One option box we’d check, but not included on our test vehicle, is the panoramic moonroof. That goes a long way to make the cabin’s interior feel even more spacious, and is a big improvement over the standard size roof from the previous model.
With the rear seats folded, there is nearly 70 cubic feet of cargo space. And all models without the 3rd row seating get Nissan’s Divide’N’Hide cargo system. With the rear seats left up, they claim you can get 18 configurations of modular space by using dividers with recessed areas, and a cargo cover. It will take some time to figure out what’s best for your needs, but you can set it up to accommodate several grocery bags so they won’t tip over, and the gym bag won’t be sliding around under braking and acceleration. It would be worth the time to experiment with it.
Exterior styling is evolutionary, not revolutionary. In general, small crossover styling is more function rather than form, and that’s as it should be. Therefore none of them stick out as real lookers to us. But we liked the older generation looks, and the new model is even better, save for the new grill, which is more conservative and generic than the previous egg crate look. But some of Nissan’s Juke styling has been picked up in the side and fender styling, and the chamfered taillight treatment is also handsome. It makes the look a bit more elegant and upscale.
The base Rogue S starts at $23,040, and comes with power windows locks mirrors AM/FM/CD player with USB port, rearview camera, Bluetooth and audio streaming.
The SV model starts at $24,490, and adds 17” wheels, power driver seat, automatic climate controls, Nissan Connect which enables smartphone apps, satellite radio, pushbutton start, and a few other goodies.
The SL model starts at $28,280, and offers a navigation system, power tail gate, surround view back-up camera, 18” wheels, a Bose Audio system, and leather heated front seats.
Our test SV with all-wheel-drive started at $25,840. Splash guards and floor mats added $370. And the must-have $1,590 SV Premium Package includes Nissan Connect with Navigation and mobile apps, a 7” touchscreen with Voice recognition for Nav and Audio and Sirius XM Traffic and Nav link. It also includes Around Video Monitor, power liftgate, heated outside mirrors, and heated front seats. But the best part of the package are the safety features of Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and Moving Object Detection. Those features alone are worth the price of the package.
So to wrap up, the 2015 Nissan Rogue is a very good vehicle that doesn’t stand out in any one area, but taken as a whole package, stands up favorably to any small crossover on the market, and deserves to be in the conversation of any buyer in the category. The improvements over the last generation are subtle, but significant. And it’s no wonder, this vehicle has been gaining sales every year for Nissan.
2015 Nissan Rogue Review
By Ken Glassman
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Ken “Hawkeye” Glassman has been a motor journalist for over 30 years, reviewing automobile, as well as motorcycle ride reviews and accessory reviews.
His car articles have appeared in Robb Report Magazine, Autoguide.com, Car-Revs-Daily.com and other media. His work has also appeared in Road Bike Magazine, Motorcycle Tour and Cruiser, SpeedTV.com, MotorcycleUSA.com and others.
As motorcycle columnist for The Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, the paper became the only major circulation newspaper in the country to have a separate weekly section devoted to motorcycles. Later he wrote a weekly column for Cyclefocus Magazine.