The Rogue: driver comfort is the question
We really, really wanted to like the 2016 Nissan Rogue. It's a right-sized compact crossover with mild off-road chops, thanks to its 7.6-inch ground clearance, and it is rated at 32 mpg on the highway even with all-wheel drive. It has accumulated better-than-average reliability records in Consumer Reports magazine surveys, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the similar 2015 model a Top Safety Pick. The Rogue is right-priced, too: the base Select model starts at $20,150, and even our loaded test car came in at a manageable $33,175.
One thing we liked about the Rogue was its ride. On a five-hour drive to upstate New York, the Rogue exhibited road manners normally associated with more expensive, even luxury crossovers. The ride was smooth and quiet, and while the handling and acceleration were unexceptional, the car felt secure and composed. Fuel economy was more than acceptable at 28.6 mpg on a long highway drive, though we'd hoped to come a little closer to the highway rating.
The Rogue is one of several crossovers and sport-utility vehicles produced by Nissan, ranging from the offbeat little Juke to the burly Armada. We've driven all of them and have acquired a strong preference for the midsize Murano.
The Rogue is well executed in most respects. It has a roomy back seat and an impressive 70 cubic feet of cargo room when the split rear seat is folded down. The only complaint we heard from two back-seat passengers on a 90-mile side trip around Syracuse, N.Y., was the default seatback position – easily corrected by operating a lever on the upper outboard seatback. Access, egress, knee room and head room are compromised in some of the more stylized crossovers; even 6-footers found the Rogue's back seat comfortable.
The driver's seat, however, did not go back far enough to give a 6-foot driver full extension, and the power tilt seat didn't lift the front of the cushion enough for good thigh support. Both of these faults seem easily corrected; knee room for tall passengers in the back seat was sufficient even when the front seat was levered all the way back. Yet this deficiency in the otherwise appealing Rogue is almost guaranteed to drive tall drivers to the nearest Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Hyundai or Kia showroom. (Obviously, this is a highly competitive segment.)
Our Rogue was well equipped with luxury, convenience and safety features. We liked the Around View Monitor, blind-spot warning (part of a $2,190 option package), the heated front seats, satellite radio and dual-zone climate control. The audio, navigation and climate-control systems were easy to operate, as was the driver's information center. Another selling point for the Rogue is that it's built by American workers in Smyrna, Tenn.
Apparently, the Rogue's good qualities greatly outweigh the weak spots. So far in 2015, it's outselling the previous year's model by nearly 41 percent.
Steven Macoy (email@example.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.
Engine: 2.5-liter inline Four, 170 horsepower, 175 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: Xtronic continuously variable
Ground clearance: 7.6 in.
Weight: 3,618 lb.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear
Wheels: 18x7-in. alloy
Tires: P225/65R18 all-season
Max. towing capacity: 1,000 lb.
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 32 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 70 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 14.5 gal.
Fuel economy: 25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway
Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline