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2017.5 Nissan Rogue SL AWD a Thom Cannell Close-Up Review


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2017.5 Nissan Rogue SL AWD
A Rogue in Fort Myers

By Thom Cannell
Senior Editor
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel

No attempt at completeness, simply comments on one week’s driving experience—balanced against decades of experience and hundreds of comparisons.

Vacations are said to clarify the mind through decluttering. Thus a brief holiday including the open expanse of Florida’s sunset coast and a new 2017 Nissan Rogue.

Florida always means congested traffic, long waits at stop lights which tests outward vision, control placement and ease-of-uses, air conditioning prowess, and often the vehicle’s powers of evading poorly concentrating drivers.

Our week-long test follows on the heels of the recent launch of the updated Rogue, now the best selling mid-sized crossover in North America. To its credit there are solid reasons for outselling Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, among them is a reasonable price. Ours had an MSRP of $35,475 including destination and delivery, but online pricing suggest a $3,000-$4,000 lower cost.

Another reason for Rogue’s continuing success is a style that, while crisply updated, is more timeless than bleeding edge. Like great suits or classic hair styles, Rogue’s features won’t cause a wardrobe-related replacement any time soon.


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Note this is a Hybrid Rogue and has no forward compartment

Our first test was loading several large suitcases, which Rogue swallowed with ease. This led us to inspect an unusual floor arrangement. There are hidden compartments below a two-piece deck. One, a smaller bin and cover, held items like first aid kit, jumper cables, and trouble markers supplied by the company providing the test vehicle. While not standard equipment, they’re items that, along with a 12-volt compressor, should be in your vehicle. The larger bin had triple the volume and was empty. This larger bin’s cover could be used as a higher deck floor, sliding in to molded-in slots leaving the lower compartment more available for hauling wet or dirty items.

The drive to our holiday home gave us the same impressions we’d had on the Rogue launch, a very quiet vehicle, one that drove precisely and handled well. As Rogue offers two driver-selected modes of operation, Eco and Sport with Eco being the always-on mode, we tried Sport. Immediately the tachometer jumped up a few revolutions, the steering tightened, and the transmission “shift” points more closely emulated a multi-speed transmission.

As you may know, Nissan has long championed the use of continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) in a majority of its vehicles. They, along with Audi, Ford, MINI, Honda, Jeep, Subaru, Toyota have used these transmissions which provide maximum fuel economy. Our biased view is, at the cost of driving pleasure. Why would we feel this way? When equipped with a CVT transmission, engines accelerate and hold steady-ish while a pair of (essentially) pulleys vary in depth, simulating the traditional gear set. They’re very slick, smooth, and to us neither sound nor “feel right”, but they are surely acceptable. We are snobs. True, you can push the shifter into a simulated manual mode, which works very well, but on flat-and-straight Florida roads why bother?

When driving through cities like Naples or Fort Myers your concern is simply wondering if, when the accelerator is pressed firmly, will something happen? It will, as what most CVT-equipped vehicles do provide is a lot of acceleration from the stop light. Rogue pulls hard away from stoplights.

Here’s another note. Many vehicles do not offer a linear response to the throttle. Starting, you have to be very soft, then push strongly to continue accelerating. The 2017.5 Rogue suffers no such nonsense, instead moving ahead smartly and precisely as you’d expect, more so when select the Sport mode (which we did always), propelled by a 175 horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine which runs happily on regular gasoline.

Those of us lucky enough to be invited to national vehicle launches seldom drive at night. A week-long test reveals the goodness, or lack of, of a vehicle’s headlights. Our 2017.5 Rogue SL was equipped with with the SL premium package of Forward Emergency Braking, Power panoramic moonroof, and LED headlamps. We’ll let you decide the value of the moonroof but FEB, which reads your intention to brake hard and amplifies the brakes like dropping a cement block onto the brake pedal, is wonderful. LED headlamps provide the kind of lighting all cars, trucks, and SUV/CUVs should have. You can see ahead clearly, and there’s greater illumination to the sides. They are better even than Rogue’s standard halogen lighting, which is quite good.

Rogue is equipped with many safety features beyond seat belts. We mentioned Forward Emergency Braking, and there’s Lane Departure usually find annoying; this implementation was more subtle. We do like Cross Traffic alert to warn us of both parking lot traffic and it adds notification of overtaking vehicles on your sides. In Florida this is a life and damage saver.


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Our Palatial Ruby Rogue had the matching interior; we were in W Hotel or Westin premium leather-lined lounge mode. The color, oddly called Platinum Reserve Premium Quilted Leather is light milk chocolate and almost edible in its softness. Despite Florida sunshine, and of course thanks to good air conditioning, we were comfortable moments after placing posteriors in seats. Designers were thoughtful in creating interior panels that sweep from elbow to elbow, using texture and color to build an expansive and expensive appearing destination.They do this by using contrasting color, black, to accent side bolsters and using both perforation and stitching to create accents and a premium appearance. The cockpit is otherwise covered in harmonious shades and textures of black. A very nice touch was the D-shaped steering wheel, which made entry effortless.

As we were equipped with a premium 9-speaker Bose entertainment system, we used it and the 7” color touch screen. Notable were its ability to swiftly sync with an iPhone and resume where Pandora left off, or jump to any of the broadcast or satellite channels. We had mixed success with the voice-activated navigation system. If the destination was easily recognized the destination was swiftly planned. However, occasionally we had to respond to a request for: “State; City; Street; Number to get there, and we did.

Here Are My 2017.5 Nissan Rogue SL Bullet Points:

Good:

  • Quiet and easy to live with for a week or many years.
  • Roomy interior that has more luxury than the price would suggest.
  • Easy to use and understand controls.
  • D-shaped wheel provides easy entry, comfort for those who drive close to the wheel, are expecting or hefty.
  • Stellar headlights that don’t cause glare for oncoming traffic while lighting your road.
  • Navigation, if you choose it, is easy to use if it recognizes your address.

Room for improvement:

  • We’ll never get used to, or love CVT transmissions, their sound or the way they feel when accelerating. It’s why we prefer the Rogue Sport Hybrid and its more conventional transmission.
  • Navigation’s voice recognition can be cumbersome if it doesn’t immediately recognize your address.
  • We wish you could default driving to Sport mode, our preferred setting.

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