Since its inception the Nissan Rogue CUV has always been popular among consumers and critics alike. The model has received numerous awards from many sources; it has been named “Best SUV”, “Best Family Car” and “Best Value”. Kelley Blue Book even included it on their “10 Best All-wheel-drive Vehicles Under $25,000”. So, when it comes time to refresh such a successful vehicle where do you start?
For the 2016 model year Nissan has decided not to change much at all. The body and interior are carried over again remaining the same as found in the 2014 model when the model received a major reworking. I guess the adage “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” applies. In an attempt to give consumers more value for their money Nissan has decided to add a fourth model to the lineup. The model is known as the SV Special Edition, incidentally that also happens to be the model I tested. This model fits between the base level S and middle of the pack SV models. For a modest fee of $2,900 above the cost of the base S model, the new trim level adds a few creature comforts and a bit of eye candy. The package includes: heated seats (a Canadian necessity), 17-inch alloy wheels, push button start, fog lights, automatic headlights, 6-way power driver’s seat, tinted windows and 2 additional speakers.
The base Rogue S starts at $24,648; the Rogue SV Special Edition starts at $27,548; the Rogue SV starts at $30,548. My tester was the $29,548 SV Special Edition with AWD. I can see how this new model will appeal to those who do not require expensive technologies like sat nav, and adaptive cruise but want AWD and warm seats. Nissan has kept the purchasing process extremely simple by not having any optional packages to filter your way through. Rather each subsequent model has a little more to offer and increases the price accordingly, no having to sacrifice one option for another in an attempt to keep to your budget. About the only decision you have to make, besides colour, is front or AWD, and what accessories you what to add (bike racks etc).
The 2016 Rogue has a few significant new technologies available in the upper trim models. For instance you may want to consider the FEB system (Forward Emergency Braking) that will detect obstacles ahead of you and apply the brakes if you happen to be distracted. Nissan is also using the new Rogue to showcase the Siri Eyes Free system which allows you to interact with Siri if you have an iPhone. Then you have the impressive around view monitor with Moving Object Detection and Blind-spot Warning. All of these systems helped the 2016 Rogue score a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).
The model I drove had cloth seats, nothing glamorous, but they warmed me up on cold mornings and were comfortable on longer drives. The comfort comes courteous of the zero-gravity design that delivers continuous support for your torso, which prevents your core muscles from fatiguing and the accompanying back pain common on long drives. The dash layout is simple and neat making it a cinch to find whatever control you may be after. The only drawback I found in the dash was the small rear-view camera screen; there are larger cell phone screens. That complaint aside the screen was big enough for the stereo display and the lack of touch screen function meant there are actual buttons and knobs; always a plus in my book.
The back seats are roomy enough for adults with ample leg and headroom. The interesting space though is in back. Nissan calls it the Divide-N-Hide cargo system. Basically the floor of the cargo bay features two panels which can be lifted and slid into slots forming tiers for multi-level storage. The “hide” part of course is the retractable cargo bay cover. Nissan has really thought the Rogue through in terms of utility and family friendliness. The back row seats will split and fold like most do, but someone said no we need to do more, what if you need to haul a long load? The answer is EZ Flex Seating. This system adds a front passenger seat that folds backwards allowing you to carry an 8’ ladder for instance and keep the tailgate closed. Unfortunately my tester did not come with this feature so I could not get a picture.
To explain why this is such a great idea, consider what I saw a few weeks ago. On the QEW I watched a driver of a Jeep Grand Cherokee hauling some 2 X 4’s which required his tailgates window be left open. Normally this would not be a problem, but on the day in question the weather was horrible. The snow was flying and the roads were covered in a salty soup. The problem this presented was the wheel spray that he kicked up being caught by the open tailgate window and directed inward. The result was the interior of his expensive SUV was now being coated in the salty road soup. Had his SUV featured this EZ Flex system this would never have happened and his all black interior would still be free of salt stains.
For larger families the Rogue can be optioned to with a third row of seats which enables you to transport 7 passengers. The second row seat can be slid forward to make accessing the pop up seats easier, but don’t expect adults to spend much time back there without cramping. The Rogue offers 1,982L (70 cu ft) of cargo room with the seats folded down. The interior features a lot of intelligent design and numerous storage cubbies making it a great buy for a family.
There is one engine for the Rogue, a naturally aspirated 2.4L 4 cylinder that makes 170 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. The engine operates smoothly and delivers enough power, but it drones anytime your foot slightly brushes the throttle because of the CVT. This specific CVT makes no effort to disguise itself and comes with unbelievable amounts of rubber-banding. If this expression means little to you the only other way to describe it would be to liken it to a badly slipping clutch; a sound and sensation that every gear head knows and dreads. That said, if this sort of thing doesn’t irk you then by all means enjoy the benefits CVT’s offer, the most adulated of which is fuel economy. While we are one the topic of fuel consumption, I averaged 10.1 L/100 km of mixed driving with a heavier than average foot. The official numbers for the AWD models are: 9.5 city/7.4 highway/ 8 L/100 km combined.
Out and about it quickly becomes apparent that despite the name Rogue, meaning playful or mischievous, the real focus of this vehicle is on comfort. The ride is smooth and soft which is very pleasant until you enter a corner with a bit too much gusto, at which point there will be clenching. The body exhibits a bit of roll, nothing dangerous just unexpected and the electric power steering offers absolutely no real idea of what the front tires are actually doing. The steering although vague, is nicely weighted and light during low speed maneuvers. My tester came equipped with winter tires which contributed to a fair bit of noise at highway speed and cornering, but normal all-seasons will likely cure that ailment come spring.
While the Rogue has not changed this year, it remains a competent contender in the CUV market. It offers loads of space, a comfortable interior mixed with level of user friendliness that is becoming increasingly rare. The addition of a new trim level will no doubt broaden its appeal and steal some customers from the pricier competition.
2016 Nissan Rogue SV
- Great storage space and practicality
- Real buttons and knobs controlling the radio and HVAC
- Comfortable seating for up to 7 passengers
- Comfort focused ride and handling
- Good value with the new model
- Three letters – C – V – T
- Could use more legroom for drivers above 6’
- Did not reach estimated fuel consumption figures
- Comfort focused handling
- Did I mention the CVT?