2017 Nissan Rogue SL comes packed with luxury-style features

By Paul Borden

(March 16, 2017) The line between entry level luxury cars and well-equipped so-called “affordable” vehicles seems to get more blurred every year as what were once exclusive features in the more expensive segment trickle down the line.

Oh, you may not get all the styling tweaks, and the cachet a luxury logo give you may be missing, but if that doesn't bother you, you may be able to save some bucks by going with the top-of-the-line offering from an “affordable” brand over the luxury choice.

One such example is the Nissan Rogue.

The 2017 Rogue SL is a good-looking vehicle inside and out and comes with a long list of features, many of them standard, that provide about all you would want in a crossover.

Among standard features are NissanConnect with navigation, 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, a backup and surround-view camera with rear cross-traffic alert, heated front seats with position memory settings, blind-spot warning, Bose premium sound system, Bluetooth handsfree phone, dual zone climate control with second row vents, keyless entry and push-button start, a power liftgate that opens with the wave of your foot under the rear bumper when the key is near, and more.

With all-wheel drive (over front wheel) and a couple of option packages that included a power panoramic moonroof, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and prevention, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, 19-inch alloy wheels over the standard 18s, and tan leather-appointed seats with quilted insets, the Rogue I had for the past week had just about everything you might want in such a vehicle for a price that came in at $35,475.

That’s a jump of about $11,000 over the base Rogue S model but near the bottom of the price range for the compact SUVs in the luxury segment, and some of the lower-costing luxury models don’t offer all the features the Rogue SL does.

With such advantages, it’s little wonder that the Rogue has become Nissan’s bestselling model, outpacing even the popular Altima sedan. Nissan reported sales of 61,909 Rogues for the first two months of 2017 to 45,474 Altimas. According to figures from goodcarbadcar.com, that placed the Rogue No. 4 among all vehicles behind only three pickup trucks — the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, and Ram — and just ahead of one of its chief competitors, the Honda CR-V.

Apparently, buyers like the new features Nissan added to the Rogue for 2017 over the 2016 model. Among the changes were new front and rear fascias with a new grille and revised taillight treatment, the motion-activated liftgate, three new colors, body enhancements to minimize road and wind noise, a redesigned center console, new sport mode shifter, and available memory seats and mirrors. Adaptive cruise control, which Nissan dubs “Intelligent,” also was added for this year as well as several safety features.

Cargo space is a generous 32 cubic feet behind the second row and features what Nissan calls its “Divide-N-Hide” system. You can remove sections of the rear floor to build shelves in the rear cargo area, giving up to 18 adjustable variations for stowage. (It’s not available with the optional third-row seats that are available only on the S and SL trims.)

So, yeah, there’s a lot to like about the 2017 Nissan Rogue.

Except …

Yes, you expected that, didn’t you?

Except for driving fun.

When it comes to performance, the Rogue does the job of getting from Point A to Point B but without much in the way of flair. Nissan added a hybrid powertrain to the Rogue lineup for 2017, but more common is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder gas engine.  Its numbers — 170 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque — aren’t all that bad. They pretty much fall in the middle of the segment. But that engine is hooked up with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and even when switched to Sport mode, you’re not going to get much in the way of kicks in driving fun.

On the other hand, fuel economy is at the high end of the segment with EPA ratings of 25 miles-per-gallon city, 33 highway, and 27 combined, and that’s with AWD. It does run on regular unleaded, which is a break over most luxury models as well.

What I liked about the 2017 Nissan Rogue SL: It comes packed with lots of features, both technological and in comfort and convenience. The technology is user-friendly, though there is an extra step in the voice commands that would be nice to cut out.

What I didn’t like about the 2017 Nissan Rogue SL: I’d like a slightly bigger display screen for the navigation map, but my real bone to pick here is with the CVT. It can be noisy when pushed, and even in Sport mode or operated as a manual it doesn’t offer much in the way of performance. It would have been nice had there been paddle shifters to take advantage of the seven artificial shift points that Nissan features with its CVT.

Would I buy the 2017 Nissan Rogue SL? I would if I could get past the CVT issue. I really do like its looks, comfort and style.