- AroundView cameras are a must-have feature
- USB and Bluetooth streaming, standard
- Lots of safety features
- Good looks
- Carryover powertrain
- Noisy under hard acceleration
- Still a crossover...
- ...with a third-row seat?
The 2015 Nissan Rogue may have a small third row, but it's a better car than the previous generation in virtually every way.
The newer version of the Nissan Rogue you can buy is now only a year old, and it's more stylish and more spacious. The Rogue was redesigned for last year — at least one version of it. You can still find a 2015 version of the previous-generation Rogue on the road today called the Rogue Select, and it's intended only for rental fleets. Our recommendation is that you skip past the old version if it's offered to you — the 2015 Rogue is a significantly better product, and it earns class-leading fuel economy.
The first thing you'll notice with this current generation of Nissan Rogue is the handsome styling. Gone are the wild grille treatments, replaced by something a little more conservative and considerably more contemporary. The front and rear of the crossover are both more interesting and modern, and the overall look is one that feels less economical. The interior is better organized and finished in attractive, higher-quality materials.
With just marginal growth in wheelbase (up just 0.6 inches), the Rogue hasn't gained considerable interior room, which keeps it positioned at the smaller end of the compact-crossover class. It's 1.2 inches taller, though, and doors open more widely.
As with the Altima, Nissan delivers better seating comfort with especially dense seat foam, and finds a bit more room for back-seat passengers, thanks to a sliding and reclining second-row seat. The front seats also borrow a page from the Leaf playbook, with heating controls that warm up in more sensitive contact areas. A power driver seat is available, but like the Ford Escape, there's no power offered for the front passenger seat--though it does fold down for more carrying capacity.
Maybe the most unusual decision is to offer a third-row seat in the Rogue, though there's not a big increase in passenger space. Since the second row can be adjusted on a 9-inch-long track, the third-row seat has usable leg room--but only if you're in the awkward stage between booster seat and driving yourself. And even then, it's a temporary, short-distance solution at best.
The Rogue returns with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder and continuously variable transmission found in the first-generation crossover. Power output's still fixed at 170 horsepower, and acceleration is mediocre at best. It's not the CVT's fault entirely, but the transmission does put the Rogue in a noisy stretch of its powerband pretty often. A few pounds of extra firewall damping would be well-received.
Where the Rogue excels is in gas mileage and in road manners. The EPA-rated 33 mpg highway looks great on paper, but the 28 mpg combined of either the front-drive or all-wheel-drive Rogue is even better in real life.
The Rogue's all-independent suspension and electric power steering gets some assistance in controlling the Rogue's ride. A new function, Active Ride Control, directs the CVT and engine responses to smooth the Rogue's body motions after it crosses a bump, Nissan says. Active Trace Control can also apply a brake or adjust torque to an inside wheel to aid cornering. The new Rogue steers with more heft, damps its ride better, and has a more substantial and composed feel than the Rogue Select in every way we can think of. Seventeen-inch wheels with all-season tires are standard; 18-inchers are an option on the top Rogue.
All Rogues come with standard curtain airbags and stability control, as well as a rearview camera and tire pressure monitors. Nissan's Easy Fill tire alert is also included. Federal safety ratings include four- and five-star ratings, and it's earned Top Safety Pick (TSP) status from the insurance-funded IIHS. Safety options include a surround-view camera, blind-spot monitors, a lane-departure warning system, and a forward-collision alert system.
The base Rogue S comes with power windows, locks, and mirrors; an AM/FM/CD player with a USB port; Bluetooth with audio streaming; and a rearview camera.
The Rogue SV adds 17-inch wheels; a power driver seat; satellite radio; automatic climate control; pushbutton start; and NissanConnect, which enables use of smartphone apps like Pandora.
The Rogue SL gets Bose audio; navigation; a power tailgate; surround-view cameras; 18-inch wheels; heated front seats; and leather upholstery.
Options include third-row seating; run-flat tires; a panoramic sunroof; those advanced-safety features; and LED headlights.
2015 Nissan Rogue
With its refined cabin and crisp new shape, the Nissan Rogue moves smartly into the mainstream.
The Rogue has become the most handsome version of itself to date, much like a teenager that overcomes acne just before prom. The exterior proportions finally appear right-sized, and its interior feels upgraded and attractive.
Inside, Nissan has delivered a more handsomely finished interior, one with higher-quality materials. It's not damning it with faint praise, to call it elegantly ordinary. It's laid out for quick perception, with round knobs for climate control and audio framing a center stack with an LCD monitor, and a cowl over the gauges balanced out by a slight dip over a pair of slim vents. It's not wildly conceived with all-touch interfaces or asymmetrical lines or a shower of single-function buttons--and we're kind of in love with it for that reason.
Nissan's done a positively Honda-like job in the past few years, evolving styling in gradual steps to remove the odder flourishes of the past. Remember the last Rogue's crazy grille treatments? They're broomed. There's a more straightforward grille bracketed by angled chrome bars and braced by LED running lamps. The side and fender sculpting's borrowed some lessons from the wild Juke--and clearly has seen the latest Santa Fe and CX-5, from the look of the chamfered taillamps. All the details push the Rogue's corners in more evocative directions than the plainer first-generation crossover.
2015 Nissan Rogue
The Rogue has better handling than the Rogue Select, but there's no sidestepping the moany CVT/four-cylinder combo.
Handling has improved over past generations for the 2015 Nissan Rogue, but that four-cylinder engine remains as buzzy as it ever has been. New for this year, the Rogue comes with an Eco mode, which should keep it from revving out quite as much.
The Rogue makes up serious ground in its gas mileage and handling. The EPA rated last year's model with both front-drive and all-wheel-drive at 28 mpg combined, with the front-drive model earning a 33-mpg highway rating. However, we haven't seen if the EPA will increase that number with new Eco setting on the 2015 Rogue, so we'll update this review when that information becomes available.
Just as impressive is the Rogue's transformed road feel, more secure and substantial than it had been. Electric power steering isn't the curse here that it is in some compact cars: it doesn't wander and hunt on grooved concrete, and takes to changes with smooth responses. The suspension's independent all around, and ride quality is very controlled--bordering on firm.
It's augmented electronically with new stability-control logic. In one application, it damps the accelerator to smooth out the ride over bumps (instead of surging over them). In another, it clamps the inside front brake in corners to draw the Rogue through them more nimbly. The effects can't really be sensed without comparing the same Rogue, disabled, though.
The Rogue returns with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder and continuously variable transmission (CVT) found in the first-generation crossover. Power output's still fixed at 170 horsepower, though Nissan says 175 pound-feet of torque put the Rogue at the top of the compact-crossover niche.
Dip deeply into the gas, and the Rogue's CVT modulates the gaps between its pulleys to simulate an automatic with an infinite set of gears. It's quicker and smoother to do that, but the Rogue doesn't have fixed ratio points--"gears"--or shift paddles to reach them, like our current CVT favorite from the Subaru Forester. The result is mediocre, 8-second acceleration to 60 mph, and a noisy pause at the productive end of the Rogue's powerband. It's actually more refined in some ways than the prior Rogue, but compared to turbocharged four-cylinders and automatics in the Santa Fe, Escape, and others, it's less satisfying.
Seventeen-inch wheels with all-season tires are standard; 18-inchers are an option on the top Rogue SL.
2015 Nissan Rogue
Comfort & Quality
The Rogue has excellent front seats, and plenty of second-row space, but the third-row seat is barely big enough for children.
The current Nissan Rogue crossover isn't much larger than the previous-generation vehicle, but Nissan has found some extra room inside. It's enough to slot in a third-row seat--barely. That makes the Rogue one of the smallest crossovers on the market to offer a third-row seat.
That's not the Rogue's calling card, though. In truth, the third-row seat is only roomy enough for small children. It's a good thing it's an option, and unavailable on the most expensive Rogue SL.
Where the Rogue really shines is in the dramatic upgrades in cabin trim, versus the prior vehicle, still on sale today as the Rogue Select. The cockpit's trimmed out in more substantial, better-looking materials, for one. The contrast between new and old is stark: the Select's dash is more plasticky and vaguely futuristic, this one's tightly composed from low-gloss plastics and metallic trim.
The low point? Excessive engine noise that's amplified by the way its CVT holds revs in the more vocal part of its powerband.
As it did with the Altima, Nissan has outfitted the Rogue with very comfortable front seats and a good driving position, with just a touch of the Italianate steering-wheel tilt. Super-dense foam and great sculpting make the Rogue's chairs a place we could sit for a 12-hour road trip, no sweat. The manually adjustable seats add power for the driver on the Rogue SV and SL, but no passenger power seat is available. Instead, the front passenger seat folds down to extend interior cargo storage--you can toss an eight-foot ladder in through the tailgate and it should fit, provided you're driving solo.
The front seats also borrow a page from the Leaf playbook, with optional heating controls that warm up first in more sensitive contact areas.
Adults get ample accommodations in the second row, which slides on a 9-inch track to expand its leg room, reclines for long-distance comfort, and moves up and away behind the front seats for maximum cargo stowage.
Both the second and third rows split and fold for flexible cargo space. It's 70 cubic feet in all behind the front seats with other rows folded down; 32 cubic feet behind the second row; and a skimpy 9.4 cubic feet behind the third row.
The third-row seat's such an occasional piece, we'd skip it in favor of the Divide-N-Hide cargo setup that's standard on five-seat models. With reconfigurable panels, you can create stowage boxes and bins in the back to suit whatever task you have, from carrying home ice packs and beverages, to hiding muddy boots until you can hose them off after a hike.
2015 Nissan Rogue
The NHTSA gives the Rogue relatively poor marks, though the IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick.
All 2015 Rogues come with standard curtain airbags and stability control, as well as tire pressure monitors. Nissan's Easy Fill tire alert is also included. Visibility is fairly good, though the Rogue's uptick at its rear pillars blocks some rearward vision, though much less than the pillars in the carried-over Rogue Select.
Options include blind-spot monitors, a lane-departure warning system, and a forward-collision alert system.
One feature we'd buy, no question, is the surround-view camera that's available on the Rogue SV and standard on the SL. It stitches together a composite 360-degree view of obstacles from a quartet of cameras--and it makes parking everywhere and anywhere so much simpler. It's packaged with other useful options in the SV like smartphone connectivity, so it's worth the upsell.
In crash tests, the Rogue has performed reasonably well. It's earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) Top Safety Pick designation, meaning that it earned top 'good' scores in all of five required categories. It misses the TSP+ nod because it's only been given a 'basic' rating for its available front crash protection (with the optional Forward Collision Warning system).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), though, gives the new Rogue a four-star overall rating, and last year's low three-star rating for front-impact protection has been improved to four stars on a retest of the 2015 model. It's also offset somewhat by a five-star rating in side impacts.
The Rogue Select is the carry-over version of the last-generation ute, and its scores are more worrisome. The Rogue Select only manages an 'acceptable' score in the rollover-protection-related roof strength category, and a more troubling 'marginal' performance in the new small-overlap frontal test, which simulates a frontal, off-center collision in which the vehicle hits a tree or utility pole—a particularly deadly and injurious type of crash. We'd rather see drivers in the newer Rogue for safety reasons, but there's room for improvement, even there.
2015 Nissan Rogue
On the must-haves list, we'd put the Rogue's surround-view camera system.
The influence of the current Nissan Altima's success is almost tangible inside the 2015 Nissan Rogue. The styling has gone mainstream, and the addition of plenty of technology steals some of the value proposition from Nissan's Korean competitors.
The base Rogue S comes with all of the basics you'd absolutely need–power mirrors, windows, and locks; radio with AM/FM/CD and USB; a rearview camera; and Bluetooth connectivity.
The Rogue SV gains 17-inch wheels; satellite radio; a power driver seat; automatic climate control; pushbutton start; and NissanConnect, which enables use of smartphone apps like Pandora. This connectivity kit is one of the easier systems you'll find in the class, with more limited functionality but plainer operation than the befuddled Ford setup, for example. SV Premium models get heated cloth seats for 2015.
The Rogue SL gets Bose audio; navigation; a power tailgate; surround-view cameras, one of our must-have features now that's it's spread outside the Nissan/Infiniti empire; 18-inch wheels; heated front seats; and leather upholstery.
On five-seat models, the Rogue comes with the Divide-N-Hide cargo storage system. The third-row seat is offered only on the Rogue S and Rogue SV.
Options on the 2015 Rogue include third-row seating on base and SV models; run-flat tires; a panoramic sunroof; those advanced-safety features; and LED headlights.
2015 Nissan Rogue
The Rogue records excellent EPA highway ratings, and good real-world fuel economy, too.
The EPA hasn't changed its fuel economy ratings for the 2015 Nissan Rogue--they carry over from its introduction year of 2014.
The Nissan Rogue earns better-than-average fuel economy in its class, through straightforward powertrain decisions, not hybrid or diesel options. An optimized CVT and more efficient tires give the Rogue excellent ratings, on either the city or the highway cycles. The EPA certifies the front-drive Rogue at 26 miles per gallon city, 33 miles per gallon highway, or 28 mpg combined. With all-wheel drive, the combined number stays the same.
The previous-generation front-wheel-drive Rogue was rated at 23/28 mpg; with all-wheel drive, its numbers fell to 22/26 mpg. That vehicle's still available as the Rogue Select, in case you're interested in a very low lease payment above fuel economy and crash-test scores.
There's no plan for diesel power for the Rogue, as far as we know, and Nissan's hybrid four-cylinder in the new Pathfinder doesn't seem likely, given the Rogue's already impressive fuel economy.