The 2016 Nissan Rogue offers excellent fuel economy, an upscale interior, and a smooth, but uninspired ride. The available third-row seat is too small for most buyers.
The Nissan Rogue is the automaker's compact five-seat crossover SUV. Redesigned for the 2014 model year, the new Rogue has attractive styling and packaging that overcomes its unexciting powertrain and predictable road manners.
It's a significant step up, though, from the former Rogue, which Nissan sold as the Rogue Select through the 2015 model year.
The first thing you'll notice with this current generation of Nissan Rogue is the handsome styling. The front end is conservative yet modern, the sides feature interesting character lines, and the overall look is upscale when compared to the economical appearance of the first-generation Rogue. The interior is better organized and finished in attractive, higher-quality materials as well.
The Rogue continues with the 2.5-liter inline-4 and continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the first generation. Power output's still fixed at 170 horsepower, and acceleration is mediocre at best. It's not the CVT's fault entirely, but the transmission does put the Rogue in a noisy stretch of its powerband pretty often. A few pounds of extra firewall damping would be well-received.
The Rogue's all-independent suspension and electric power steering gets some assistance in controlling the Rogue's ride. Active Ride Control directs the CVT and engine responses to smooth the Rogue's body motions after it crosses a bump. Active Trace Control can also apply a brake or adjust torque to an inside wheel to aid cornering. These features help smooth out the ride but the Rogue doesn't feel sporty. The Rogue steers with some heft, damps its ride nicely, and has a substantial and composed feel on the road, but it lacks the agility and feedback of rivals like the Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5. Seventeen-inch wheels with all-season tires are standard; 18-inchers are an option on the top Rogue.
Inside, like the Altima, the Rogue offers plenty of seating comfort with especially dense seat foam. The front seats also borrow a page from the Leaf playbook, with heating controls that warm up in more sensitive contact areas. A power driver's seat is available, but like the Ford Escape, there's no power offered for the front passenger seat, though it does fold down for more carrying capacity. Second-row passengers have good space, thanks to sliding and reclining seats.
While it's sized at the smaller end of the compact crossover class, Nissan made the unusual decision to offer a third-row seat in the Rogue. Since the second row can be adjusted on a 9-inch-long track, the third-row seat can have usable leg room, but the cushions sit low, head room is tight and the nobody but small children will be comfortable. Even then, it's a temporary, short-distance solution at best.
All Rogues come with standard curtain airbags and stability control, as well as a rearview camera and tire pressure monitors. Nissan's Easy Fill tire alert is also included. The Rogue scores a middling four-star rating (out of five) in crash tests conducted by the government, but it has earned Top Safety Pick status from the insurance company-funded IIHS. Safety options include a surround-view camera, blind-spot monitors, a lane-departure warning system, and a forward-collision alert system.
For 2016, the Rogue adds available rear cross-traffic alerts and forward-collision warnings with automatic braking. Siri Eyes Free is added to the SV Premium Package and SL model.
The base Rogue S comes with power windows, locks, and mirrors; an AM/FM/CD player with a USB port; Bluetooth with audio streaming; a rearview camera; and 17-inch steel wheels.
The Rogue SV adds alloy wheels, a power driver's seat, satellite radio, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless ignition, and NissanConnect, which enables use of smartphone apps like Pandora.
The Rogue SL gets Bose audio, navigation, a power tailgate, the surround-view camera, 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, and leather upholstery.
Options include third-row seating, run-flat tires, a panoramic sunroof, those advanced-safety features, and LED headlights.
Where the Rogue excels is in gas mileage and road manners. The EPA-rated 33 mpg highway looks great on paper, but the 28 mpg combined of either the front- or all-wheel-drive Rogue is even better in real life.