Nissan Rogue — Surging through the galaxy

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Nissan created what turned out to be one of its best-selling vehicles when it redesigned the compact crossover Rogue for the 2014 model year. Since then, the Rogue has surged in sales rising 85 percent and is the company's second best selling North American nameplate just behind the mid-sized Altima sedan.

So it's no wonder Nissan has ballyhooed the Rogue's mid-cycle refreshening for the 2017 model year to keep it competitive in the booming compact crossover market while at the same time attaching it to the box office hit, "Rogue One: A Stars Wars Story." Nissan has even created a Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition.

The updated look includes a new front fascia with integrated fog lamps, bumper, and the Nissan signature “V-Motion” grille that looks more like a “U.” Headlamps have been revised with LED signature daytime running lights, new LED boomerang rear taillights and new 19-inch alloy wheels on the SL trim level. For the first time Nissan has made a motion-activated rear liftgate available on the Rogue that activates both the opening and closing with a kicking motion under the center of the rear bumper.

Inside the 2017 Rogue remains relatively unchanged but there are a new flat-bottom steering wheel that’s available with a heating option and also tilts and telescopes; memory for driver’s seats and mirror; remote engine start; and a revised center console. Also new is a Platinum Reserve Interior Package (available on Rogue SL) highlighted by premium tan leather-appointed seats with special quilted leather inserts.

Front bucket seats are a special Zero Gravity design and we found them to be the most comfortable seats in the compact crossover segment. We also liked the available (SV and SL trim levels) Quick Comfort heated front seats, designed to immediately begin warming, especially for cold weather climates.

It’s also worth noting that the Rogue is the only compact crossover utility vehicle in its class that offers a third row of seats for 7-passenger seating (not available on hybrid). We also liked that the second row of seats slide fore and aft for additional legroom. The cargo area is one of the largest and most useful in the segment.

The 2017 Rogue retains the same 2.5-liter 170 horsepower four-cylinder engine that powered the 2016 model mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission. Although the Rogue's performance proved adequate, if a bit uninspired, in all driving situations — measured at 9.1 seconds from 0-to-60 and 80 mph in 17 seconds in the quarter mile — we were disappointed that Nissan did not see fit to squeeze a few more ponies out of the engine. Most of its key competitors provide more bang for the buck.

The upside is outstanding fuel economy. We were pleased with our overall performance at just over 29 miles per gallon for our test week, which is quite high for the compact crossover utility vehicle segment. The EPA rating for the front-drive version is a solid 26 mpg city, 33-highway and 29 overall. Note that mileage drops slightly for the all-wheel drive version to 25/32/27, and all-wheel drive adds $1,350 to the bottom line.

And for even better fuel economy with a move aimed directly at class competitor Toyota RAV4, Nissan is adding a first-ever hybrid variant to the Rogue lineup boosting projected fuel economy to 35 mpg (estimated, front wheel drive models). The Rogue Hybrid should now be reaching dealer showrooms.

We were well pleased with its ride and handling, the way it absorbs road imperfections with ease, and its solid, well built feel. For the 2017, Nissan added more sound-absorbing materials that have paid off in a quiet interior even at elevated highway speeds.

The Rogue comes in three trim levels — S, SV and SL — starting at $24,760 including destination charge. The top-trim SL with all-wheel drive goes out the door for $32,250. Star Wars fans will not want to miss the Rogue One Star Wars Limited Edition package for $1,990.

Nissan has collaborated with the "Star Wars" franchise to produce the Rogue One based on the 2017 Nissan Rogue SV with Sun and Sound Touring package. Rogue One will come with "Star Wars" badging, a panoramic roof, Bose stereo, black wheels, LED headlights, and a Magnetic Black or Glacier White paint job designed in conjunction with Lucas Film (a Walt Disney Company), along with exclusive interior and exterior trim items and a full-size Death Trooper collectible helmet.

Sadly, the Rogue One will not enjoy any hyperdrive-capable powertrains. The Rogue One is priced at $28,950 and will be limited to 5,000 units in the U.S. and 400 units for Canada.

Base price: $24,760; as driven, $33,940
Engine: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 170 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 175 pound-feet @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission: continuously variable
Drive: front wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 106.5 inches
Length: 184.5 inches
Curb weight: 3,424 pounds
Turning circle: 37.6 feet
Luggage capacity: 32 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 70 cubic feet
Towing capacity: 1,000 pounds
Fuel capacity: 14.5 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 26 city, 33 highway, 29 overall
0-60: 9.1 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4

The Good
• Excellent seat comfort
• Quiet, friendly interior
• Excellent cargo storage

The Bad
• CVT slow to respond

The Ugly
• Relaxed performance from 4-cylinder