New & Used Nissan Rogue: In Depth
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The Nissan Rogue is a compact crossover with seats for five. Rogue's power comes from a four-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Front-wheel is drive standard but all-wheel drive is an option. It is one of Nissan's most popular models, alongside the Altima and Sentra sedans.
Competitors include the high-volume trio of Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4, as well as the Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Forester, among others.
MORE: Read our 2015 Nissan Rogue review
The first Rogue debuted for the 2008 model year. Nissan redesigned its little crossover for 2014, creating more interior room and giving it better, more comfortable seating.
The new Rogue arrived for the 2014 model year--though, confusingly, the former version remains on sale today badged as the Rogue Select. The new model is styled handsomely and a bit more conservatively than the one it replaces, and the interior is better organized and finished in attractive, higher-quality materials. Interior space isn't up in a major way, so the Rogue remains at the smaller end of the compact-crossover class. It's 1.2 inches taller than before, though, and the doors open wider for easier entry and exit. The best improvement made to the new model has to be the dense-foam seats that are very supportive on long drives—Nissan calls them "zero-gravity" and plays up the fact that they were developed using knowledge from NASA.
Though it's not much bigger inside, the Rogue now offers an optional third row. The way-back bench isn't very big, but the second row can be slid fore and aft to sacrifice a little room in the middle when the rearmost position is being used. That said, it's probably best if only small kids ride in the third row, since it's not that easy to access the extra seat and space is at a premium.
Today's Rogue uses the same four-cylinder and CVT as its predecessor, but improvements to the driveline and aerodynamics help boost fuel economy to 28 mpg in the EPA's combined rating. Steering has more weight to it than in the previous model, the ride has been improved, and the Rogue feels altogether more composed and substantial than the carry-over Rogue Select.
For crash safety, the Rogue has earned Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) status from the insurance-funded IIHS--but the NHTSA initially gave it a low three-star rating for front-impact protection; that NHTSA rating has been upgraded to four stars for 2015, and the Rogue continues to get four stars overall from the government. Safety options include a surround-view camera, blind-spot monitoring, a lane-departure warning system, and a forward-collision alert system.
Other Rogue features include a standard USB port and Bluetooth with audio streaming and a rearview camera. Options include third-row seating; Bose audio; navigation; a power tailgate; surround-view cameras; 18-inch wheels; heated front seats; and leather upholstery.
No major changes were made for the 2015 model year, although the Rogue's NHTSA crash-test score has improved and an Eco mode was added to the powertrain. The testing improvement is likely due to improvements made under the skin.
With Toyota adding a hybrid model to its RAV4, there are rumors that Nissan could bring a hybridized Rogue to the U.S. market soon. It would likely get a version of the hybrid powertrain used in the larger Pathfinder SUV.
Nissan Rogue history
The original Rogue had a fairly unconventional appearance, completely without any unnecessary SUV cues. More a slab-sided and taller-than-usual wagon, the first-generation Rogue had echoes of Nissan's Murano, the larger and clearly more luxurious sibling that sits above the Rogue in the model lineup.
This Rogue was based on the same underpinnings as the Sentra sedan but didn't take full advantage of the Sentra's chassis. Handling was on the soft side, and while other crossovers aimed for class-best performance or handling, the clear focus for the Rogue was affordable, economical, and comfortable transportation for small families, and for those looking for a low-cost sedan or minivan alternative.
The Rogue was fairly fuel-efficient, too, courtesy a four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT). The 170-horsepower, four-cylinder engine and CVT could be teamed to either front- or all-wheel drive. Fuel economy, at up to 23 mpg city, 28 highway, was quite good.
This first Rogue could move quite quickly but wasn't particularly inspiring to drive--even when equipped with the available steering-wheel paddles, which might have improved the experience somewhat on hilly or curvy roads.
More than anything, the Rogue succeeded as a compact sedan replacement, with room for five inside, though three adults were a bit cramped in the back row. The back seats adjusted for rake—for best comfort, or to help fit cargo, and when needed the back seats fold flat.
Over the years, the first Rogue saw few changes. For 2010, a new 360 Value Package brought alloy wheels, a chrome grille, and other extras to the base S model, while a Krom appearance package gave the whole aftermarket-accessorized look—showy wheels, sporty center exhaust, tinted glass and all. A very mild makeover came in the 2011 model year; otherwise, options were fine-tuned for 2013 to bring a new Premium Edition (replacing the Premium Package) with front fog lamps and Bose audio. A Bluetooth hands-free interface remained optional on base S models but was included in the rest of the model line.