2016 Nissan Rogue - The Car Connection

   
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The Car Connection Expert Rating Breakdown



The Car Connection Expert Review


Kirk Bell

Kirk Bell

Editor


  • Likes
  • Surround-view cameras are a must-have feature
  • USB and Bluetooth streaming, standard
  • Lots of safety features
  • Good looks
  • Dislikes
  • Carryover powertrain
  • Noisy under hard acceleration
  • Still a crossover...
  • ...with a third-row seat?

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.

Styling
8.0

Crisply styled on the outside and refined on the inside, the Nissan Rogue is a modern take on the compact crossover.


The Rogue has become the most handsome version of itself to date, much like a teenager that overcomes acne just before prom. The exterior proportions appear right-sized, and its interior feels upscale and attractive.

Nissan's done a positively Honda-like job in the past few years, evolving styling in gradual steps to remove the odder flourishes of the past. Remember the last Rogue's crazy grille treatments? They're broomed. There's a more straightforward grille bracketed by angled chrome bars and braced by LED running lamps. The side and fender sculpting has borrowed some lessons from the wild Juke. From the look of the chamfered taillights, it's also clearly seen the latest Santa Fe and CX-5. All the details push the Rogue's corners in more evocative directions than the plainer first-generation crossover.

Nissan has also delivered a handsomely finished interior, one with high-quality materials. It's not damning it with faint praise to call it elegantly ordinary. It's laid out for quick perception, with round knobs for climate control and audio framing a center stack with an LCD monitor. There's also a cowl over the gauges that is balanced out by a pair of slim vents over the center stack. It's not wildly conceived with numerous touch interfaces or asymmetrical lines or a shower of single-function buttons, and we like it for that reason.

Crisply styled on the outside and refined on the inside, the Nissan Rogue is a modern take on the compact crossover.

Performance
7.0

The 4-cylinder engine/CVT combo tends to moan under acceleration, and the ride and handling are aimed more at comfort than sportiness.


The Rogue continues with the 2.5-liter inline-4 and continuously variable transmission (CVT) found in the first-generation model. Power output's still fixed at 170 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque.

Dip deeply into the gas, and the CVT modulates the gaps between its pulleys to simulate an automatic with an infinite set of gears. It does so quickly and smoothly, but the Rogue doesn't have fixed ratio points—"gears"—or shift paddles to reach them, like our current CVT favorite in the Subaru Forester. The result is a mediocre eight-second acceleration run to 60 mph, and a noisy pause at the productive end of the Rogue's powerband. Compared to turbocharged four-cylinders and automatics in the Santa Fe, Escape, and others, it's less satisfying. The Rogue does have an Eco mode, which keeps it from revving out quite as much, but it also dulls throttle response unless you pin the throttle.

Just as impressive is the Rogue's secure and substantial driving character. Electric power steering isn't the curse here that it is in some compact cars. It doesn't wander and hunt on grooved concrete, and takes to changes with smooth responses, but it isn't fast or particularly informative. The suspension's independent all around, and ride quality is quite comfortable.

It's augmented electronically with advanced stability-control logic. In one application, it damps the accelerator to smooth out the ride over bumps (instead of surging over them). In another, it clamps the inside front brake in corners to draw the Rogue through them more nimbly. The effects can't really be sensed without comparing the same Rogue, disabled, though. These features serve to make the Rogue a comfortable daily driver, but they don't add any excitement to the controlled but rather bland driving experience.

The 4-cylinder engine/CVT combo tends to moan under acceleration, and the ride and handling are aimed more at comfort than sportiness.

Comfort & Quality
8.0

The Rogue is one of the smallest crossovers with a third row; it's small but the other rows are roomy.


Cabin quality is where the Rogue really shines. The cockpit's trimmed out in substantial, good-looking materials, with low-gloss plastics and metallic trim. The low point? Excessive engine noise that's amplified by the way its continuously variable transmission holds revs in the more vocal part of its powerband.

As it did with the Altima, Nissan has outfitted the Rogue with very comfortable front seats and a good driving position, though the steering wheel has a bit of a bus-like rake to it. Super-dense foam and great sculpting make the Rogue's chairs a place we could sit for a 12-hour road trip—no sweat. The front seats also borrow a page from the Leaf playbook, with optional heating controls that warm up first in more sensitive contact areas. The manually adjustable seats add power for the driver on the Rogue SV and SL, but no passenger power seat is available. Instead, the front passenger seat folds down to extend interior cargo storage. You can toss an 8-foot ladder in through the tailgate and it should fit, provided you're driving solo.

Adults get ample accommodations in the second row, which slides on a 9-inch track to expand its leg room, reclines for long-distance comfort, and moves up and away behind the front seats for maximum cargo stowage.

The current Nissan Rogue crossover isn't much larger than the previous-generation vehicle, but Nissan has found some extra room inside. It's enough to slot in a third-row seat, though just barely. That makes the Rogue one of the smallest crossovers on the market to offer a third-row seat.

That's not the Rogue's calling card, though. In truth, the third-row seat is only roomy enough for small children. It's a good thing it's an option, and unavailable on the most expensive Rogue SL.

Both the second and third rows split and fold for flexible cargo space. There's 70 cubic feet in all behind the front seats with the other rows folded down; 32 cubic feet behind the second row; and a skimpy 9.4 cubic feet behind the third row.

The third-row seat's such an occasional piece that we'd skip it in favor of the Nissan's cargo management setup that's standard on five-seat models. With configurable panels, you can create stowage boxes and bins in the back to suit whatever task you have, from carrying home ice packs and beverages to hiding muddy boots until you can hose them off after a hike.

The Rogue is one of the smallest crossovers with a third row; it's small but the other rows are roomy.

Safety
7.0

The IIHS calls the Rogue a Top Safety Pick, but it scores poorly in government testing.


In crash tests, the Rogue has performed reasonably well. It's earned the IIHS' Top Safety Pick designation, meaning that it posted top "Good" scores in all of five required categories. It misses the TSP+ nod because it's only been given a "Basic" rating for its available front crash protection system (with the optional forward-collision warning system).

The NHTSA gave the Rogue a four-star overall rating, and the original 2014 model got only three stars for front-impact protection. That has since been elevated to four stars, but that's still lower than most rivals.

All 2016 Rogues come with standard curtain airbags and stability control, as well as tire pressure monitors. Options include blind-spot monitors, a lane-departure warning system, and a forward-collision warning system.

Visibility is fairly good, though the Rogue's uptick at its rear pillars blocks some rearward vision. Still, one feature we'd buy, no question, is the surround-view camera that's available on the Rogue SV and standard on the SL. It stitches together a composite 360-degree view of obstacles from a quartet of cameras, and it makes parking everywhere and anywhere so much simpler. It's packaged with other useful options in the SV like smartphone connectivity, so it's worth the extra money.

The IIHS calls the Rogue a Top Safety Pick, but it scores poorly in government testing.

Features
8.0

The base model is well equipped, but we like the SL's model's surround-view camera system.


The influence of the current Nissan Altima is almost tangible inside the 2016 Nissan Rogue. The styling is mainstream, and the addition of plenty of technology steals some of the value proposition from Nissan's Korean competitors.

For 2016, the Rogue is offered in S, SV, and SL models. The base Rogue S comes with all of the basics you'd absolutely need, including power mirrors, windows, and locks; AM/FM/CD audio with a USB port; a rearview camera; Bluetooth connectivity; and 17-inch steel wheels.

The Rogue SV gains alloy wheels, roof rails, automatic headlights, satellite radio, a power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless ignition, and NissanConnect, which enables the use of smartphone apps like Pandora. This connectivity kit is one of the easier systems you'll find in the class, with more limited functionality, but plainer operation than the befuddling Ford setup, for example. A Premium Package for the SV comes with NissanConnect; navigation; a 7.0-inch touchscreen; Siri Eyes Free; voice recognition; traffic, weather and travel services provided by satellite radio; a surround-view camera system; a power liftgate; heated outside mirrors; heated cloth seats; blind-spot monitor; lane-departure warning; rear cross-traffic alerts; and Nissan's Moving Object Detection.

The Rogue SL gets 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, leather upholstery, Bose audio, NissanConnect, Siri Eyes Free, navigation, a power tailgate, and surround-view camera, which is one of our must-have features now that's it's spread outside the Nissan/Infiniti empire. 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 Moving Object Detection.

The base model is well equipped, but we like the SL's model's surround-view camera system.

Fuel Economy
7.0

The Rogue posts efficient EPA ratings, and delivers in the real world as well.


The 2016 Nissan Rogue is offered with just one engine and transmission combination, though buyers have the choice of front- or all-wheel drive. The Rogue earns better-than-average fuel economy ratings in its class through a straightforward four-cylinder engine and continuously variable automatic transmission.

The EPA certifies the front-drive Rogue at 26 mpg city, 33 highway, 28 combined. With all-wheel drive, each figure drops by 1 mpg.

The Rogue posts efficient EPA ratings, and delivers in the real world as well.




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