New Nissan Rouge tickles comfort seekers

By EDITOR   |   29 January 2015   |   11:00 pm  

Nissan-Rogue

THE attractive and stylish 2015 Nissan Rogue is a compact crossover that offers seating for five or even seven passengers. It has a lot to offer for families, but the compact-crossover market is full of excellent choices so it’s become harder and harder for vehicles to stand out in the crowd.

    Certainly, the Rogue will be appealing if you’re interested in comfort and available space. Interior surfaces are made from high-quality materials that look and feel particularly upscale, especially on upper trim levels. And as a bit of a rarity in the compact crossover segment, there’s optional seating for seven. The available third row is small, but overall, storage capacity is high. There are several cargo configurations, and with both rear rows folded down, the Rogue matches class leaders with 70 cubic feet of cargo space.

   You’ll also like how this Nissan crossover’s compliant suspension keeps the ruts and potholes at bay when driving over broken pavement. But the downside to this soft suspension tuning is that the Rogue is not especially enjoyable to drive. Its handling can feel ponderous, and the combination of a lackluster four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) result in noisy and uninspiring acceleration, especially when the Rogue is carrying passengers or cargo. 

   During our long-term test of a Nissan Rogue, we’ve found the EPA fuel economy estimates to be a bit optimistic and difficult to reproduce in the real world. Basically, it’s hard to get good fuel economy when you’re struggling to get up to freeway speeds. Even if you were willing to pay the extra cost for an engine upgrade (such as the turbocharged four-cylinders or V6s offered by most competitors), the Rogue doesn’t offer one.

   Luckily, there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to compact crossovers, each with their own strengths. The 2015 Mazda CX-5 is the Rogue’s polar opposite when it comes to driving enjoyment, and it’s still suitably refined and versatile. For similarly impressive cargo space and respectable real-world fuel economy, we recommend checking out the well-rounded 2015 Honda CR-V or Subaru Forester. For three rows of seating, the Kia Sorento is really the only worthwhile option outside of much larger crossover models.

   The 2015 Nissan Rogue is a compact crossover offered in three trim levels: S, SV and SL. Two-row seating is standard, while a third-row seat is available on S and SV models.

Standard equipment on the S includes 17-inch steel wheels, LED running lights, keyless entry, cruise control, air-conditioning with rear vents, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 40/20/40-split backseat (folds, slides and reclines), a 5-inch color infotainment display, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, an iPod/USB interface and an auxiliary audio jack.

   The SV adds 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, rear privacy glass, roof rails, keyless ignition and entry, a six-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), dual-zone automatic climate control, NissanConnect smartphone app integration and a six-speaker sound system that also includes satellite radio.

   The SL gets standard 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, a power liftgate, leather upholstery, heated front seats, voice controls, a 360-degree parking camera system (Around View), a 7-inch touchscreen display, a navigation system and an eight-speaker Bose audio system with a six-CD changer.

   Options are mainly grouped into packages. Only available on the S or SV, the Family package adds the third-row seat and run-flat tires (deleting the spare tire), along with rear privacy glass for the S. The SV Premium package adds the SL’s standard navigation system, bigger touchscreen and Around View camera system, and also contributes heated mirrors, a blind-spot warning system, a lane-departure warning system, a forward collision warning system and “moving object detection” (in conjunction with the 360-degree parking cameras). The SL Premium package features LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof and the safety features from the SV Premium package. The panoramic sunroof is a stand-alone option on the SV.

   Every 2015 Nissan Rogue comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 170 hp and 175 pound-feet of torque. A CVT is standard, as is front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional. In Edmunds testing, a Rogue SL AWD hit 60 mph in 9.0 seconds. That’s about average for a compact crossover with the base engine.

 .  The Rogue comes standard with stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags (for all three rows when equipped), a rearview camera and hill-start assist. The all-wheel-drive system adds hill descent control.

   Optional safety features (bundled in packages) include a blind-spot warning system, a lane-departure warning system, a forward collision warning system and the Around View camera system. The latter (standard on the SL and optional on the SV) provides a top-down 360-degree view of the Rogue’s surroundings when parking, and it can be upgraded with a warning system that notifies you when moving objects enter a camera’s view.

   One of the Rogue’s key strengths is its interior. There are lots of soft-touch materials, generously padded armrests and a mature, almost elegant dashboard layout. As on the Altima sedan, Nissan says the Rogue’s front seats are a NASA-inspired “zero gravity” design, and yes, they’re quite comfortable (though front legroom may be insufficient for taller drivers).

   The second-row seats are split 40/20/40 for greater versatility and feature a full 9 inches of fore/aft travel, with reclining seatbacks for further adjustability and comfort. Although the cramped optional third-row seat is only for small children, that’s true of any comparably sized crossover, and the third row gives the Rogue a competitive advantage over most direct rivals.

If you opt for two-row seating, you’ll enjoy a useful cargo dividing system, which includes an adjustable rear cargo area with storage compartments, multilevel shelving capability and a claimed 18 different cargo-carrying configurations. Cargo space dwindles to 9.4 cubic feet behind the third row, but both rear seating rows fold flat to open up the Rogue’s maximum 70-cubic-foot hauling capacity, which is one of the bigger capacities you’ll find in this class.



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