2016 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Review
My loaner came equipped in SL AWD trim with the Premium package added, which means that auto on/off LED headlights join the standard LED daytime running lights with fog lamps underneath, the otherwise white roof getting a shiny black patch across its mid-section that not so subtly hints at the panoramic glass sunroof, additional SL exterior features including a few more chrome and aluminum-finish bits brightening key points, and upgraded multi-spoke gray metallic 18-inch alloys adding a sporty touch. The mirror caps are color matched and infused with LED turn signals plus approach lights that shine on the road below.
Inside the Rogue SL you’ll find a nicely designed and well-built cabin upgraded with dual-zone auto climate control, a seven-inch color touchscreen infotainment system with a 360-degree Around View monitor, navigation, SiriusXM Traffic, and nine-speaker Bose audio with speed-sensitive volume and Radio Data System (RDS), plus a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, leather-clad shift knob, leather upholstery, Quick Comfort heated front seats and heated side mirrors. A powered liftgate gets added to its conveniences, while the Premium package adds blind spot warning, lane departure warning, forward collision warning with moving object detection, and forward emergency braking to an already well endowed standard safety kit, earning the Rogue a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS when equipped. AWD is optional across the line, hill descent control being part of the upgrade when added. Proximity-sensing access lets you inside and pushbutton ignition gets things going, and six-way powered driver’s seat with power lumbar, four-way powered front passenger’s seat, rear privacy glass, retractable cargo cover, and more are included for $32,230 plus freight and dealer fees, which is thousands less than some similarly equipped competitors—reason enough for its popularity, although it doesn’t hurt that the base Rogue S FWD starts at just $23,290.
Not only is the Rogue nicely designed and well built, it also features some premium detailing. A soft touch dash top joins pliable synthetic door uppers, while just below are nicely padded leatherette armrests with French-stitched seams. The center armrest isn’t so fancy, but gets finished in comfortable padded leatherette just the same, while the leather seats are well formed and thoroughly comfortable with perforated leather inserts that keep you cooler in summer. Satin-silver trim adorns the steering wheel spokes and switchgear, the vent surrounds on the dash, and console-mounted gearshift lever surround, while the gearshift panel and the center stack interface are covered in a glossy black plastic. A high-gloss carbon fiber-patterned gray inlay finishes off the trim ahead of the front passenger and down each door panel.
Ahead of the driver is a large dual-dial primary gauge package, while a large color thin-film-transistor (TFT) multi-information display is well stocked with features. The infotainment system on the center stack isn’t the largest in the industry or the highest in resolution, but it offers some features that prove it quite special, including the aforementioned 360-degree camera that makes parking a breeze. The graphics are somewhat remedial, but the layout is quite simple and easy to understand, while two rows of quick prompt buttons give quick access to the functions needed. The navigation system’s mapping graphics were a little slow to adjust, but we found our way to where we wanted to go, which isn’t always the case.
The Bose audio system sounds great, with nice deep bass and bright highs. You can plug in your personal devices via USB and aux ports, plus a 12-volt power outlet is located just above a rubberized tray ahead of the shifter on the lower console. Another 12-volt power outlet can be found in the two-tier storage bin below the center armrest.
The auto climate control interface is nicely laid out with a large LCD display and benefits from two front zones. The front seat heaters are only two-way, however, and while they heat up quickly the highest temperature isn’t all that hot. Rear seat heaters were not available, but as noted earlier a very nice large panoramic sunroof that boasts a powered sunshade that fully encloses and insulates the glass roof was available.
The rear seating area offers loads of legroom and comfortable seats with good lower back support, while a center armrest with cup holders folds down. The seatbacks fold in the usual 60/40-configuration, providing a flat loading floor and ample space for gear—39.3 cubic feet when the seats are upright and 70 cubic feet when lowered. (A kid-only third row is available, this reducing rear cargo capacity to 9.4 cubic feet, but certainly upping the vehicle’s usability if your family needs require it.) Compare those figures and you’ll see the Rogue is actually larger than some others in the class, which really helps when it comes to people and cargo-carrying capability, plus Nissan goes further to include an innovative standard cargo system dubbed Divide-N-Hide with a split movable/removable carpeted load floor with two-tier shelving.
Out on the road the Rogue’s ride quality is quite good, with plenty of suspension travel to minimize intrusions from pavement irregularities. Still, it’s a fairly firm setup, and you’re going to feel bridge expansion joints, bumps and frost heaves, manhole covers and the like, but it’s not intrusive. The Rogue balances ride comfort with fairly good handling, again not the best in its class but certainly good enough for most peoples’ wants and needs, while highway stability is excellent.
Overall the Rogue’s straight-line performance is fairly strong, with plenty of pull off the line and decent passing power on the highway. Its mere 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque might have you thinking it’s not as quick as some non-turbocharged four-cylinder rivals, but its relatively low curb weight (3,622 lbs. as tested) makes up for any power deficiencies. The efficient continuously variable transmission helps in this respect as well and aids the Rogue’s impressive fuel economy that’s rated at 25 mpg in the city, 32 on the highway and 28 combined as tested with AWD, or 26 city, 33 highway and 28 combined with FWD.
The CVT delivers pseudo shifts too, although there is no manual mode. Instead, an electronic overdrive button located on the shift knob lets you drop a “gear” when needed, and there’s also a low gear that brings revs up quite a bit more. With Sport mode engaged revs are allowed to climb almost completely to redline before shifts rapidly occur, the process feeling a bit artificial but certainly quick.
Of course, none of the competitors in the Rogue’s compact SUV class are perfect, but if Nissan wants its sales to surpass the Ford Escape and leave the Chevy Equinox behind when it gets redesigned next year, not to mention the new Jeep Cherokee, it’ll want to remedy its shortcomings in its next generation. Until then, the Rogue offers a lot of capability in an efficient, well-equipped, good-looking package—a certain recipe for continued success.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press; Photo credits: Trevor Hofmann and Karen Tuggay, American Auto Press; Copyright: American Auto Press