Test Drive – 2015 Nissan Rogue

Test Drive - 2015 Nissan Rogue Base Price: $22,790

Price as tested: $32,480

This week, we’re behind the wheel of the 2015 Nissan Rogue, a smaller footprint SUV/Crossover that is Nissan’s second best-selling behind Altima. Now in the second year of a new generation, our Rogue tester arrived in SL trim with All Wheel Drive (AWD), which made driving Test Drive - 2015 Nissan Rogue in a “three snow storm week” all the better.

Available in three versions including S, SV and top line SL, Rogue is a Smyrna, TN., built small to mid-size sport utility that starts at just $22,790 for the S front wheel drive. The AWD S starts at $24,490 and then jumps up to the most expensive Rogue, namely our tester’s SL AWD base of $29,360. This new generation (2014-Test Drive - 2015 Nissan Rogue 2015) features a slightly longer wheelbase (105.9 versus 106.5), better interior dimensions, more cargo space (maximum is up by over 10 cu. ft.) and comfortable yet sporty suspension. (Nissan moved production of the new generation Rogue from Japan to Tennessee in 2013, adding 900 jobs to the Tennessee workforce, which now totals over 7,000 at the plant).

Each and every Rogue comes powered by a 170-horsepower inline four-cylinder that delivers 175 lb. ft. of torque. The engine transfers power through an Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that now has a manual “D-Step Shift Logic” mode if so desired. Fuel mileage is very good as the front drive delivers 26 city and 33 highway while the AWD chips in with just one less MPG at 25 and 32, respectively. These EPA fuel mileage number are five better than the 2013 models we tested thanks to better engine fuel management, a CVT automatic that now offers an ECO (Economy) mode and all-new underbody aerodynamic additions that improves aerodynamic drag coefficient by up by 10-percent.

Outside, Rogue’s design is a blend of smooth lines and aerodynamic touches that please most every consumer demographic. This is proven by a 21.2-percent sales increase in calendar year 2014 compared to 2013 sales. Other reasons for the model’s success are Consumer Reports magazine overall “Small SUV” recommendation for 2015 and accompanying clean to perfect owner reliability ratings for the 2014 models.

Still, it’s the advantages that many times go unnoticed that make Nissan Rogue a wise purchase. We’ve always praised Rogue’s larger front doors for ease of entry and its top flight safety enhancements. There is also a three row, seven passenger seating option available, although those in the back seat are tight and it’s cumbersome to get back there if you’re an adult.

As for the safety enhancements, Nissan continues to add extra protection into every model from advanced air bag technology, chassis sturdiness and class exclusive “Around View” safety cameras. Add in a $1,990 SL Premium Package with power moonroof, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, forward collision warning and moving object detection, and you end up driving one of the safest vehicles on the road today.

Inside, Rogue offers convenience and multi-task opportunities thanks to up to 70 cu. ft. of cargo space available depending seat configuration. Rogue also offers excellent visibility and comfortable quick control heated leather seating. Instrumentation is good and second row passengers are more comfortable thanks to the new generation’s better head and legroom.

Standard SL features include Halogen headlights, power touch liftgate, all powers, dual zone climate, fog lights, Nissan Connect Navigation with seven inch display, four wheel discs with ABS, heated outside mirrors, 18-inch tires on lightweight alloys, Bose Premium Audio with nine speakers, Bluetooth, SiriusXM and much more. Your dealer will explain all features and models.

Nissan’s always evolving technical initiative shows up in a fine-tuned independent suspension and automatic AWD drive system. Rogue provides excellent traction on snow covered roads which we tested time and again in our three snowstorm week. Additionally, Rogue’s Vehicle Dynamic Control, traction control and other electronic assisted enhancements make for an enjoyable driving experience regardless of weather conditions.

Important numbers include a 106.5-inch wheelbase, 3,612 lb. curb weight, 39.3 cu. ft. of cargo space with seats up, 1,000 lb. maximum tow capacity and a 14.5-gallon fuel tank.

It’s worth a visit to your Nissan dealer if you are shopping the crowded small to mid-size SUV/Crossover market, and recommend the mid-priced Rogue SV model as your initial test drive point.

Likes: Great reliability reviews, splendid interior, enhanced safety.

Dislikes: Noisy engine, high-tech safety items unavailable on entry S, pricey options.

(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist)