First Drive: 2017 Nissan Rogue & Rogue Hybrid

When we first drove the redesigned Rogue in 2013, the crossover segment burner was on high, becoming just as competitive as the midsize sedan segment. Just three years later, crossovers have surpassed the midsize for sales as today’s buyers look for more utility, a higher seating position and sedan-like fuel economy.

For the Rogue, that meant staying competitive design and feature-wise to maintain momentum as Nissan’s top-selling vehicle (in 2015 and thus far in 2016).

Nissan invited us to attend the launch event for the 2017 Rogue and new for 2017, Rogue Hybrid, as they received a pretty significant mid-cycle refresh.

On the outside, Nissan applied their latest V-motion design from Pathfinder and Murano to give Rogue a more masculine look. Updated LED headlights and LED boomerang signature taillights have been added, along with new chrome-trim side door moldings complete the freshened appearance. The tailgate can now be opened with a kick of the foot, a handy feature when arms are too full to find the button above the license plate.

Inside, the center console has been redesigned for better functionality. The steering wheel now has a flat bottom, implying sportier intentions, while a new heating function ensures those with cold hands are always comfortable. The touch of a warm wheel just can’t be beat!

Leather now comes in a warm tan/brown that truly makes the Rogue interior feel upscale. Everything feels solid and all the touch points are made of soft, well-padded materials.

Memory seats and mirrors often reserved for the higher-end Murano make their way into the Rogue, a boon to households with more than one driver. Heated cloth seats and remote start make their way to the standard equipment list for SV trim levels, a huge boost in value for northern residents.

Nissan’s engineers put in extra effort to reduce NVH (noise, vibration and harshenss) from the outside.

Under the hood is where some significant changes can be found. New for 2017 is a hybrid powertrain, featuring a 2.0L gas engine and 30 kW electric motor. Net horsepower is at 176 and with the CVT, acceleration is quieter and smoother. Kinetic energy is captured in the form of regenerative braking, sending power back into the battery while slowing down. Nissan tucked the battery under the rear cargo area so that cargo capacity is minimally affected.

The warranty for the high voltage battery pack and inverter unit in the hybrid covers 8 years or 100,000 miles, whichever occurs first.

Front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive (AWD) remain available on both powertrain configurations, with the hybrid model retaining a solid drive shaft from front to rear, versus the competition which uses an electric motor in the rear.

Gas-only Rogue vehicles are rated for 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway; AWD models earn 25/32. The FWD hybrid achieves an impressive 33 city, 35 highway, while the added weight and frictional losses of AWD bring the numbers down to 31/34.

We found both engines provide linear power delivery thanks to the CVT and liked how the hybrid is integrated in a normal way. There’s no special hybrid-only EV button or special driving modes from the gas-only model; you start it and go.

New for 2017 is a bevy of safety tech and much needed equipment. Intelligent cruise control, one of our favorite features, makes its debut to ensure highway drivers can relax a bit. Forward emergency braking was previously available but now it includes pedestrian detection (we did not test either). Lane departure warning with lane departure prevention are new alert the driver with audible and visiual alerts when the lane is left, and with prevention, pulls the car back into the lane a bit.

The always helpful blind spot warning with rear cross traffic alert are features we can’t recommend enough, as well as another favorite: auto high beams. We look forward to testing some of this tech on our own roads in the near future and let you know just how bright those LED headlights are.

The third row remains on option on gas models, a rare feature in this segment, and we still recommend it be used for children or young adults; the Pathfinder is better designed for full-size adult seating in the third row.

Facts
Make: Nissan
Model: Rogue & Rogue Hybrid
Trim Level: SL
Engine: 2.5L Gas & 2.0L Gas-Electric Hybrid
Transmission: CVT
EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway): 26/33 (FWD), 25/32 (AWD) & 33/35 (FWD), 31/34 (AWD)
Available Packages: SR Turbo Premium
Base Price: $24,760
As-Tested Price: $35,290*
*Hybrid pricing not yet available

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