2015 Nissan Rogue: Worthy SUV in packed segment

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What can an underdog sport utility vehicle offer to gain a share of the vastly competition automotive segment? The Nissan Rogue found a way.

It didn’t start well. The Rouge debuted in late 2007 as a 2008 model and was met with a mediocre response. The Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV-4 and Ford Escape, among others, had well-established audiences. And who wanted a vehicle named Rogue? Did it define its name as “good for nothing” or vagrant?

But with its second generation unveiling in 2014 with better gas mileage and a more comfortable, better-made interior, the Rogue was not longer scorned. Its scoundrel, low-selling image was gone.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

I first drove the 2015 Nissan Rogue for a week in February. It was primarily during around-town trips and in a few short-distance highway treks. That test week occurred two years after first driving the Nissan Rogue for eight days and about 900 miles throughout Colorado.

The 2015 Nissan Rogue is strong contender is tough crowd.
The 2015 Nissan Rogue is strong contender in a tough crowd. Images © James Raia/2015

Mountain driving can stretch the limits of any vehicle, but the Rogue performed adequately even on some steep climbs to more than 12,000 feet into the Rocky Mountains. I averaged 26.8 mph on the trip, an impressive total considering the air conditioning was often on. I also drove at the flow of the traffic, which sometimes exceeded the posted 75 mph limit.

My first weekly drive with the 2015 Rogue was in the top-line of three trim levels, the SL. The base S model has a healthy list standard features, with the SV adding several technology features.

The SL trim further sweetens the offerings: 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.

I drove the same Rogue during my recent second test week. It also included the SL Premium package features LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof and the safety features from the SV Premium package.

Regardless of trim level, all Rogues come standard with 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engines with 170 horsepower and a continuously variable automatic transmission. It has front-wheel drive standard, with all-wheel drive as an option.

As I remember from two years ago, the Rogue’s overall strength is that while nothing is outstanding, everything is at least satisfactory. The drive is smooth and quiet, and the interior is spacious. The radio, heat and air conditioning functions on the console are simply designed and intuitive. The result is a competent, comfortable car to operate and in which to ride.

As a four-cylinder SUV, the Rogue shouldn’t be expected set any speed records and its 0-60 mph time of 9.0 seconds is pedestrian. But performance isn’t the Rogue’s priority. With its second generation, the width, height and wheelbase were slightly improved.

The interior space, including legroom and shoulder room, substantially improved. The cargo area is 32 cubic feet in two-row option and nearly 70 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down in the three-row Rogue.

The vehicle’s designers did a great job making use of all of the space. There are plenty of cupholders and storage bins, all of which add to the Rogue’s primary attraction. It’s a straightforward, utilitarian SUV, and its serves its definition well.

Likes:

Impressive fuel economy.
Efficiently designed and generous cargo space.
Handsome cabin.

Dislikes:

Acceleration only adequate.

Facts & Figures: 2015 Nissan Rogue

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 9.0 seconds.
Airbags: 6.
Fuel economy: 25 mpg (city), 32 mpg (highway), 28 mpg (combined).
Horsepower: 170.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $29,630.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.nissanusa.com.
Price As Tested: $32,480.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion: 5 years/unlimited miles.
What Others Say:

“With a premium interior and available three-row seating, the 2015 Nissan Rogue is a versatile choice for shoppers desiring a comfortable and functional small crossover SUV.” — Edmunds.

“The 2015 Rogue sets itself apart from most rivals with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), fuel economy of up to 33 mpg, stylish yet mature design, and an available – albeit cramped – 3rd-row seat.”  — Kelley Blue Book.

“It doesn’t completely rewrite the compact crossover formula, but it doesn’t need to. Everything the Rogue does, it does well. There isn’t anything to get particularly excited about here, but all in, the Rogue is a competent and relatively enjoyable offering in this incredibly competitive class. And that, folks, is just fine.” — Autoblog.

The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:

“Several months after first driving the Nissan Rogue, my second test week with the SUV reiterated my earlier opinion. The Rogue may not be the first SUV that comes to mind for a pending buyer. But it should be given strong consideration. It has no weaknesses and does a lot right.”

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