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2017 Nissan Rogue
New Car Test Drive

Introduction

The Nissan Rogue is a front-wheel-drive crossover SUV, medium-sized between the compact Juke and midsize Pathfinder. Rogue competes against long-time winners like the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5.

We find Rogue comfortable and versatile, with an optional third row of seating and available all-wheel drive, but powertrain and handling are unexciting compared with competitive models.

Rogue was introduced for 2014. The 2017 Nissan Rogue gets a very light update, with a tweaked grille, LED lighting, and upgraded interior trim.

The Rogue comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission, making 170 horsepower with 175 foot-pounds of torque, delivering mediocre acceleration.

A hybrid version mates a 2.0-liter four-cylinder to a 30-kilowatt electric motor and lithium-ion batteries for 176 horsepower. It feels the same as the regular Rogue, only 200 pounds heavier, but it gets significantly better fuel economy. It competes against the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

EPA mileage for the front-wheel-drive Rogue is 26 miles per gallon City, 33 Highway and 29 Combined, and two less mpg with all-wheel drive. The Hybrid gets 33/35/34 mpg with front-wheel drive and 31/34/33 with all-wheel drive.

Rogue has earned a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS, with mostly top Good scores, an Acceptable headlight rating, and Superior front crash prevention. The NHTSA gives it four stars.

Model Lineup

The 2017 Nissan Rogue S ($23,820), Rogue SV ($25,240), and Rogue SL ($29,960) come with the 2.5-liter engine. Rogue SV Hybrid ($26,240) and Rogue SL Hybrid ($31,160) feature the hybrid gas-electric powertrain. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)

Standard Rogue S equipment 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 third-row seating, run-flat tires, a panoramic sunroof, those advanced-safety features, and LED headlamps to go with the standard LED running lights and taillamps.

Walkaround

The styling is conservative and benign. The shape is handsome and proportions good. No wild sculpting like the Nissan Juke. Enlarge it and it could pass for a Chevy Traverse or Honda Pilot.

The 2017 Rogue revision includes a V-neck grille with LED running lamps in front and LED taillamps in back.

Interior

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.

New for the 2017 Rogue are more sound dampening material, reshaped steering wheel, dash and door trim, and quilted leather seats for the Platinum Reserve package.

Like the Altima sedan, there are very comfortable front seats with dense foam and great shaping. Manual adjustment standard, power in SV and SL. The optional heating warms up in the more sensitive areas first. The driving position is good, although the non-adjustable steering wheel has a bit of a bus-like rake. We really like that the passenger seat folds down to enable the loading of long things like a kayak or ladder.

The second row slides on a nine-inch track to expand the legroom, it reclines for long-distance comfort, and tucks behind the front seats for cargo.

The Rogue is the smallest crossover we can think of, along with the RAV4, that offers a third-row seat, made possible by that sliding second row. The cushions sit low and headroom is tight, so only small children will reasonably fit, but at least it can work in an emergency. It’s not available on the SL or Hybrid.

Without that third row, there are standard panels that allow you to create stowage boxes and bins in the back, to suit your needs. They’re great for things like tools, coolers, or muddy boots.

The specs on cargo space are a slim 9.4 cubic feet behind the third row, 32 cubic feet behind the second row, and a sizeable 70 cubic feet behind the front row.

The rearward visibility is obstructed a bit by the pillars, so we like the surround-view camera that’s optional (in a package) on the SV and standard on the SL. 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.

Driving Impressions

The Rogue will accelerate from zero to sixty in about eight seconds, a lengthy process, the engine with a noisy and early halt in progress at end of its powerband. Needless to say, it’s less satisfying than the turbocharged fours of the Ford Escape EcoBoost and Hyundai Santa Fe. The Rogue has an Eco mode that 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.

Rogue’s calm and composed ride is a strong point. It’s quite comfortable on the independent suspension, not too firm, as the tall all-season tires absorb freeway roughness.

The steering and handling lacks the vivid feedback of a Mazda CX-5 or Ford Escape. The Rogue doesn’t wander over grooved concrete, and it responds smoothly, but it’s kind of slow and not very communicative.

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.

As for the Hybrid, it’s a bit quicker despite being heavier. It uses its 0.8-kwh lithium-ion battery pack to start the vehicle via one of its two clutches. The second clutch couples the battery and a 30-kw electric motor to the gas engine through the CVT.

Nissan says it can go for two miles at 25 mph on electric power, but we have our doubts in the real world, as we found it quite difficult to roll on battery power alone. Only if you give it a teensy amount of throttle, like maybe 10 percent. In any case, the hybrid delivers more power and better fuel economy than does the standard engine.

Summary

The Nissan Rogue is outpaced by strong competition, lacking performance. Look for deals and special offers.

Sam Moses contributed to this report.


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