New & Used Nissan Rogue: In Depth
2015 Nissan RogueEnlarge Photo
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Nissan Rogue's power comes from a four-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is an option. It is one of Nissan's most popular models alongside the Altima and Sentra sedans.
The first Rogue debuted for the 2008 model year. Nissan redesigned its compact crossover for 2014, creating more interior room and giving it better, more comfortable seating. It is a compact crossover with seating for up to seven, but five will be far more comfortable.
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 2016 Nissan Rogue review
Nissan Rogue history
That original 2008 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 placed 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 of a 170-horsepower four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT) that could be teamed to either front- or all-wheel drive. The fuel economy ratings were as high as 23 mpg city, 28 highway.
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 reclined, for either best comfort or to help fit cargo, and when needed the back seats folded 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 it an aftermarket-accessorized look. It included showy wheels, sporty center exhaust, tinted glass, and more. 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.
The current Rogue
The new Rogue arrived for the 2014 model year, though, confusingly, the former version remained on sale for two model years 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. The best improvement made to the current-generation Rogue has to be the dense-foam seats that are very supportive on long drives. Nissan calls them "zero-gravity" seat 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 seat that expands capacity to seven. The third-row bench isn't very big, but the second row can slide fore and aft to sacrifice a little room in the middle when the rearmost seat 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 it had in its first generation.
For crash safety, the Rogue earns Top Safety Pick (TSP) status from the insurance-funded IIHS, but the NHTSA initially gave it a low three-star rating for front-impact protection. That has since been upgraded to four stars, which is certainly better but many rivals get five star front crash ratings. Safety options include an Around View Monitor, blind-spot monitoring, a lane-departure warning system, and a forward-collision alert system.
Other Rogue features include a standard USB port, Bluetooth with audio streaming, and a rearview camera. Options include third-row seating, Bose audio, navigation, a power tailgate, an Around View Monitor, 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, and leather upholstery.
No major changes were made for the 2015 model year, though the Rogue's NHTSA crash-test score improved and an Eco mode was added to the powertrain. The testing improvement is likely due to improvements made under the skin. For 2016, the Rogue adds Siri Eyes Free to the SV Premium Package and SL model, and rear cross traffic alerts and forward emergency braking become available on various packages and models.