2019 Nissan Rogue Review

A Best-Seller With Some Gray Hairs

It’s nearly impossible to exaggerate the beauty of Yosemite National Park.

The nature reserve’s near-1,200 square miles were first set aside in 1864, carved out of the rugged countryside of central California for the use and enjoyment of everyone. The park’s towering peaks, thundering waterfalls, ancient sequoias, and expansive wilderness areas delight the outdoorsman or woman in us all.

El Capitan, Half Dome and Cathedral Peak are perhaps Yosemite’s most prominent formations, walls of stone seemingly thrust toward the heavens by unfathomable geological forces at work over untold millennia. Scattered amongst the mountain tops are breathtaking waterfalls, their discharge tumbling thousands of feet to the valley floor far below, dotting the weather-beaten cliffs with misty-white plumes.

Yosemite is a stunning backdrop for nearly any sort of event, from wedding parties to weekend getaways, though perhaps it’s not the best place to test drive a new car. Driving in the park is less than ideal as the speed limits are low, there’s congestion, roadwork, and an endless stream of pedestrians wandering with their mouths agape staring skyward at the mountains and trees. It’s also far too easy to be a distracted motorist, craning your neck to steal a glimpse of the surrounding terrain. Fortunately, the highways leading into and out of Yosemite are much-superior testing grounds.

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Going Rogue

What does any of this have to do with a Nissan Rogue? Well, truth be told, not much. But to showcase the versatility of its vehicles and demonstrate their family-friendly nature, the automaker invited AutoGuide.com to a small event in Yosemite. It was an opportunity for us to get a refresher on many of its vehicles and gain valuable experience in other areas, like towing.

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Demonstrating its unexpected versatility, the Nissan Rogue tested here was fitted with an exceedingly cool Tepui-brand roof-mounted tent and a bicycle rack that attached to its trailer hitch. The former modification was a particularly intriguing bit of kit, expanding into an elevated, multi-person bedroom when it’s time to set up basecamp and folding away into a flattened slab about 18-inches high once you pack up and head out.

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OK, but now for some basics. The Rogue is Nissan’s hot-selling compact crossover, competing with vehicles like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester and Chevrolet Equinox. First introduced around 2007 and now in its second generation, this utility vehicle has rapidly become a cornerstone of the Japanese automaker’s lineup. For the past two model years, Rogue has been the Nissan brand’s best-selling nameplate in America, usurping the spot traditionally held by their Altima midsize sedan. Pushing ahead, it’s on track to steal the crown once again in 2019.

Staying Fresh and Keeping Pace

The current-generation Nissan Rogue was totally redesigned in 2014. Five turns of the calendar into its lifecycle and the vehicle is starting to show a few gray hairs. Keeping pace with the ever-improving competition, new features and amenities have been added for the latest model year.

Rogue is offered in three trim levels: S, SV and SL. Two flavors of hybrid model are also offered. Features like automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, Intelligent Lane Intervention, and automatic high beams are standard across the lineup. A NissanConnect infotainment system is included at no extra cost as well. It features a 7-inch touchscreen and support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Midrange SV and range-topping SL models benefit from standard rear automatic emergency braking, a rear sonar system, and a motion-activated liftgate. Nissan’s innovative ProPILOT Assist adaptive cruise-control system with lane centering is standard on SL grades and available on SV versions.

As before, a Divide-N-Hide cargo organizer is standard. This nifty bit if engineering can be deployed in 18 different positions to provide the perfect storage solution for nearly any sort of cargo.

Carry-Over Mechanicals

Under the Rogue’s hood, there’s not much news to report. The 2019 model is again hauled around by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder. This engine’s output is competitive, though its refinement is, regrettably, not.

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Rated at 170 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque, the Rogue is far from the quickest vehicle available today, though its performance should be fine for most drivers. With three people on board, a stack of bricks in the form of that Tapui pop-up tent on the roof and a few bicycles in tow, the vehicle’s performance could have been better, at least while navigating some of the mountain roads driving out of Yosemite.

Lessening the overall experience, this engine is also gritty feeling and about as soothing to the ears as microphone feedback, grumbling under load. The heavily updated 2.5-liter four-cylinder found in Nissan’s new Altima sedan is not only slightly more powerful but orders of magnitude more refined. These two powerplants feel not merely a vehicle generation apart, rather an entire century. Hopefully, Nissan starts installing its new 2.5L in the Rogue at some point.

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The only transmission offered here is, again, an Xtronic continuously variable automatic. This unit tries to make good use of the Rogue’s available power but it’s not an ideal match. The transmission often feels like it’s slipping, sending the engine uncomfortably high in its rev range and holding it there when rapid acceleration is required.

Owners have a choice of powertrain configurations. They can get front- or all-wheel drive depending on their needs.

Despite its uncouth behavior, the Rogue’s powertrain is economical. Front-drive models sticker at 26 miles per gallon in the city (9.1 L/100 km), 33 highway (7.1 L/100 km) and 29 mpg combined (8.2 L/100 km). Four-corner power degrades each of those figures slightly, by one mpg around town and on the highway, and two on the combined cycle (9.6 L/100 km, 7.5 L/100 km, 8.7 L/100 km, respectively). This Nissan is similarly efficient compared to major rivals, trailing certain configurations of the RAV4 and CR-V by one or two miles per gallon depending on equipment.

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A Familiar Interior

Inside, not much has changed. The Rogue’s cabin is reasonably pleasant, with mass-market décor. The materials used are largely workaday, but nothing is flagrantly cheap. At this point in its lifecycle, competing compact crossovers probably have an edge in this area, if only slightly. The overall layout of the Rogue’s controls also seems to work very well.

As for interior colors, you get a choice of either charcoal or almond. The highfalutin’ Platinum Reserve package, which is offered on SL models, adds lovely tan leather and trim to the charcoal cabin.

One standout part of the Rogue’s interior is its seats. Like other modern Nissans, the “Zero Gravity” front buckets are supremely comfortable, plenty supportive yet forgiving where you need a little extra padding.

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The Rogue’s second-row bench is similarly spacious and comfortable. As in a theater or sports arena, the backseat is elevated slightly, meaning passengers sit a little higher off the floor than folks in the front buckets do. This improves both comfort and outward visibility, which is great when tooling around a place as beautiful as Yosemite, though views out of the available panoramic moonroof were totally occluded by the tent above.

Aside from its somewhat annoying engine, while underway the Rogue’s cabin stays quiet. The exterior accessories undoubtedly added a bit of added wind noise, though the vehicle was still impressively hushed.

Dynamically, this compact crossover is pleasant enough to drive, with a smooth ride and reasonably secure handling, though if there is one downside it’s the steering feel, which is too light and lacking in precision. It’s not that we expect the Rogue to handle like a Porsche 911, but a bit more sharpness would be appreciated.

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2019 Nissan Rogue Pricing

The base price for an entry-level, front-wheel-drive Rogue S is less than $26,000. Grab a midrange SV model with all-wheel drive and the Sun and Sound Touring Package and you’ll check out for a little less than $33,000. Tack every available option onto an SL version and you’ll be spending a little more than $36,000. All the prices listed in this paragraph include $995 in destination charges.

Curiously, all-wheel drive is available with every trim level of Rogue, even on the hybrid variant. No matter the model, it adds a not-unreasonable $1,350 to the sticker price.

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The Verdict: 2019 Nissan Rogue Review

The 2019 Rogue is not the freshest compact crossover on the market today, but there are several good reasons why it’s Nissan’s best-seller. It offers loads of features, is comfortable, has an extremely versatile cargo hold and is both affordable to purchase and economical to operate. Of course, its driving dynamics could stand to be honed, the interior would benefit from a little sprucing up and that powertrain should be updated, but these are hardly deal-breaking complaints.

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