Has winter got you down? Is driving through the snow driving you insane? Are you ready to call it a day and hibernate until spring’s eventual arrival?
Well, don’t pull down the window shades and lock the doors quite yet. Nissan has the cure for your winter time blues and it’s called the Rogue Warrior. It won’t just beat winter; it pummels Jack Frost into submission.
Starting life as a regular Nissan Rogue compact crossover, the Warrior receives heavy duty Dominator snow tracks that replace all four wheels. Measuring 30 inches in height, 48 inches in length and 15 inches in width, these tracks allow the Rogue to climb snow-covered ski hills at ridiculous angles upwards of 45 degrees.
Get the Flash Player to see this player.
Besides adding the tracks, the Warrior receives adjustments to the body to make room for each track assembly. The suspension is raised up 2 inches and the Rogue as a whole offers 23 inches of minimum ground clearance.
The Beauty of a CVT
Otherwise, the rest of the Rogue is basically left stock. That includes the continuously variable transmission (CVT) and all-wheel drive system. As snowmobiles have proven for decades, having a CVT in a tracked vehicle makes a lot of sense, as it allows constant, smooth power to be sent to the ground.
When climbing steeper snow-covered hills, even with the throttle pegged to the ground and the engine spinning around 3,000 rpm, the Rogue Warrior would slow to a crawl as gravity and loose snow conspired to stop all forward progress. But it’s at this time where the CVT shines. It begins to adjust its near infinite ratios and finds the sweet spot where the right amount of torque is sent to the tracks to continue forward progressions without ripping them from the snow and digging four deep holes.
Amazingly, this is all processed, manipulated and adjusted by the Rogue’s stock ECU. To get the most out of the Warrior, all-wheel drive lock is selected, sport mode engaged and traction control disabled. But no part of the vehicle’s programming has been altered. These are all settings that can be adjusted in the same way on any all-wheel drive Rogue.
A Few Caveats
Even with the tracks equipped, the Warrior can still drive at speeds over 60 mph on snow, although try as I may, I could not convince them to let me try it. Speeds become significantly slower on dry pavement as the track system works to vibrate and shake the Rogue apart at its core.
Jumping the Warrior is a no-no, even with a slightly modified body. The tracks are still positioned close enough to the fenders that a hard enough bump will have the tracks and fender meet in an unpleasant, horrifically expensive way.
Steering is another area that needs special attention when driving the Warrior. Too much steering angle can have the tracks grinding against the inner wheel wells. And steering can only be done when the vehicle is in motion, as the track’s weight and grip will rip apart the steering rack if used when stationary.
A Drive to Remember
But none of these issues stop the Rogue Warrior from being an absolute blast to drive around in the snow. Besides traversing the side of a ski mountain, we took the Warrior bombing through some snowmobile trails where I was grinning like a four year-old child at Christmas who just received their very first power wheels – a really big power wheels – with tracks.
I was attacking hills with more speed than I expected the Rogue to handle and it swallowed them up with ease. When things did begin to get a bit rough, a quick jump off the accelerator pedal would instantly slow the Rogue down as the four long, wide spiked-tracks create quite a bit of drag.
Steering feel and precision is top notch, as the contact patch for each front wheel has ballooned exponentially. While plowing through well-used snowmobile trails, large ruts and berms would bump steer the steering wheel, so although great feedback is being relayed to the driver, full concentration is needed at all times.
Anyone who has been on a snowmobile will understand the Warrior’s handling traits. The front tracks will wash out early and often into glorious understeer if too much speed is carried into a corner or not enough if compacted snow is present. Unlike a snowmobile though, on-throttle and low speed cornering are quite good in the Rogue, as the front wheels are not only equipped with tracks instead of skis, but they’re also receiving power as well.
The Verdict: Nissan Rogue Warrior
Sadly, the Rogue Warrior is a one-off (well two-off if you count the one shown at the Chicago Auto Show) that will never see production. But wait, turn that frown upside down. Anyone can purchase a set of tracks and equip them to a variety of vehicles if a bit of elbow grease and ingenuity is applied.
Trust me, it’s worth it. This snow monster is hilariously fun to drive and looks badass. It’s enough to brighten up anyone’s day during the cold snowy months. It’s like a snowmobile that can seat seven people in warmth and comfort. But the Rogue Warrior has got me thinking. Nissan, what about making a GT-R Warrior next?