Nissan Rogue is a small crossover. Now in its fifth year of production, the Nissan Rogue has tough competition with updated rivals like the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5.
Rogue is comfortable and has all-wheel drive available, but its powertrain and handling are unexciting compared to those others. For 2018, the optional third-seat has been dropped. It was very small.
The 2018 Rogue SL model can be optioned with Nissan’s new ProPilot Assist technology, a step closer to autonomous driving. With ProPilot Assist, the Rogue can automatically accelerate, brake, and maintain the distance from other vehicles with no driver input, in certain situations.
Also for 2018, the standard infotainment system has been updated to include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the entry-level Rogue S gets a nice 7.0-inch touchscreen, and there are two new colors. For 2018, all but the base model get standard liftback opening with a wave of the foot under the rear bumper.
It’s hard to put the Rogue in a box, because the smaller Nissan Juke is deemed a compact, and the larger Pathfinder a midsize. Rogue is a big compact or a small midsize, closer to the Pathfinder in size. Nissan sells a smaller, less-powerful crossover called the Rogue Sport that’s cheaper but certainly not sportier.
Rogue comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder mated to a continuously variable transmission, making 170 horsepower with 175 foot-pounds of torque, delivering mediocre acceleration and a strong 29 EPA Combined miles per gallon with front-wheel drive, 27 mpg with all-wheel drive.
The cargo area is handy for cargo, but unsecured floor panels make the Rogue a terrible choice for dog owners.
Rogue has earned a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS, with mostly top Good scores, an Acceptable headlamp rating, and Superior front crash prevention. The NHTSA gives it four stars. It’s a rare discrepancy, for a vehicle that gets the top rating from IIHS not to get five stars from NHTSA. It appears that it’s the SL model with LED headlamps that earns the top score from IIHS.
Rogue S includes climate control; Bluetooth with audio streaming; rearview camera; 17-inch wheels and all-season tires; tire pressure monitor; and an AM/FM/XM/CD audio with a USB port and four speakers. Options include blind-spot monitors, a lane-departure warning system, and a forward-collision warning system with emergency automatic braking for the SL Premium.
Rogue SV adds satellite radio; alloy wheels; automatic headlights; a power driver’s seat; keyless ignition, and NissanConnect, which enables the use of smartphone apps like Pandora. A Premium Package for the SV comes with a 7.0-inch touchscreen; voice-activated navigation; real-time traffic and weather data; a surround-view camera system; a power liftgate; heated cloth seats; blind-spot monitors; and a lane-departure warning system.
Rogue SL gets leather upholstery, heated front seats, Bose audio, NissanConnect, Siri Eyes Free, navigation, power tailgate, surround-view camera, 18-inch wheels. A Premium Package for the SL adds a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. Options include that ProPilot Assist, plus run-flat tires, a panoramic sunroof, those advanced-safety features, and LED headlamps to go with the standard LED running lights and taillamps.
The shape is handsome and proportions good, but the styling is conservative and benign. It’s almost un-Nissan-like. There’s no wild sculpting like on the Nissan Juke. It looks like any other similar-sized SUV.
The interior is handsomely finished with high-quality materials, low-gloss plastics and metallic trim. It’s simply laid out with round knobs and a centerstack with LCD monitor. There’s a cowl over the gauges and slim vents in the center.
Like the Altima sedan, the front seats are very comfortable, with dense foam and great shaping. Manual adjustment standard in the S model, power in the rest; heating is optional. The driving position is good, although the non-adjustable steering wheel (reshaped in 2017) is raked a bit flat, like a bus.
The second row slides on a nine-inch track to expand the legroom, reclining for long-distance comfort, and tucking behind the front seats for cargo. When the rear is folded, there’s a sizeable 70 cubic feet of cargo space.
In the back, where the optional third row used to be, there are panels with stowage boxes and bins in the back. They’re great for things like tools, coolers, or muddy boots.
They’ve turned the Rogue into a terrible car for transporting large dogs, however. When the dog steps on one of the panels forming the cargo floor, the panel flips up and the dog falls into the bin, which could cause an injury to the dog.
The rearward visibility is obstructed a bit by the pillars, so we like the surround-view camera that’s standard on the SL and optional (in a package) on the SV. It presents a composite 360-degree view from four cameras and provides great security when parking not only in reverse, but in tight side and even forward spaces.
The Rogue accelerates from zero to sixty in about eight seconds, a long time nowadays. It’s noisy and hits an end to progress in the acceleration too soon, meaning it gets even slower from 60 to 80 mph. And that’s not even in the Eco mode, which dulls the throttle and keeps the engine from revving high.
The CVT is programmed to imitate an automatic transmission with gears, and it’s quick and smooth, although nothing like that of the outstanding Subaru Forester.
The Rogue’s ride is calm and composed, quite comfortable on the independent suspension, not too firm, as the tall all-season tires absorb freeway roughness.
The Rogue doesn’t wander over grooved concrete, and it responds smoothly, but it’s kind of slow and not very communicative. It would be an understatement to say the steering and handling lacks the vivid feedback of a Mazda CX-5 or Ford Escape.
Nissan is clever in how the Rogue uses its stability control, by cutting the throttle to smooth bumps (preventing surging over them, like coasting over speed bumps), and braking the inside front wheel to sharpen cornering lines by rotating the car. You can’t consciously feel these things, but you can feel the more comfortable results.
The Rogue is a dated product and competition is strong. The engine is weak. The CVT is fairly quick, but not nearly as sharp as that of the Subaru Forester. Nice ride, but soft handling. Look for deals.
Sam Moses contributed to this review, with New Car Test Drive editor Mitch McCullough reporting from New Jersey, and staff reports.