By on February 6, 2017

2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Palatial Ruby Front Quarter, Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn

2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD

2.5-liter I4, DOHC, CVVTCS (170 hp @ 6000 rpm, 175 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm)

Continuously variable transmission, all-wheel drive

25 city/32 highway/27 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

23.2 (Observed, MPG)

Base Price: $32,210

As Tested: $35,475

Prices include $900 destination charge.

Internet eyeballs are like sweet candy to “content producers” like yours truly, so I apologize for the clickbait title. After all, the iconic, elemental roadster has nearly nothing in common with a two-ton, all-wheel-drive CUV at first glance — or even fifth glance. But look deeper at each vehicle’s mission, and I’m convinced the 2017 Nissan Rogue defines its category just as the Miata has become the universal sports car.

While I’d love nothing more than to see a pack of 50 Spec Rogues bashing each other at the SCCA Runoffs this September, I’m referring to how thoroughly each vehicle completely disappears around the driver. I felt immediately at home upon sliding behind the wheel, and my daily commute was as relaxed as any I’d experienced in any car.

2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Palatial Ruby Profile, Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn

Calling the Rogue brilliant might stretch the bounds of credulity and hyperbole, as I can’t honestly say it’s a car that excites me as a supercar might. But within the sphere of family-sized crossovers, I can’t fathom a vehicle more perfectly suited to carrying a few people and some stuff a few extra inches off the tarmac.

The Rogue isn’t unattractive – indeed, it’s even handsome, though it will quickly blend into a parking lot stuffed with hundreds of other CUVs. Considering how well the Rogue sells, chances are you’ll resort to chirping the horn via the keyless remote to find your car among the clones in a Target lot as I did.

2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Palatial Ruby Front, Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn

The ridges on the hood seem a bit overwrought when viewed head on, but from the side, the effect is clear – the line that begins either side of the corporate V-Motion grille continues back to just below the intersection of the A-pillar and quarter panel, then retreats back to the D-pillar. The effect visually lowers the top of the fender, giving a peaked appearance, especially when seen from the rear three-quarter angle. It’s a great way to hide the bulk of a tall front end.

2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Palatial Ruby Rear Quarter, Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn

That D-pillar does seem rather large from outside the vehicle, but I didn’t notice a significant blind spot caused by the big block of sheetmetal.

2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Palatial Ruby Rear, Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn

The Platinum Package, as fitted to my tester, adds (among some safety features) 19-inch alloy wheels, which nicely fill out the big wheel arches. The 17- or 19-inch wheels found on lesser trims are less attractive, but are beautiful when potholes begin to bloom.

The interior of the Rogue impressed me on first sit. Certainly, Rogue is meant to appeal to 95th percentile adults and larger; the seatbacks were broad and relatively flat, allowing my wide shoulders plenty of room to relax. Plenty of fore/aft adjustment is available. I comfortably moved the seat forward from the stops, which is quite unusual for my long legs. Most notably for its class, I could easily and comfortably “sit behind myself” in the rear, which meant my kids had plenty of room to stretch out without kicking my seatback.

2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Palatial Ruby interior, Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn

This Rogue came with the $250 “Platinum Reserve” interior option, which offered attractive, quilted leather seating surfaces in a color they describe as “tan.” Not that I’m a Pantone-certified color expert, but I’m not willing to call it tan. It’s somewhere between butterscotch and caramel. It’s darker than the Werther’s Original candies your grandma kept in that once special candy dish you weren’t allowed to touch and closer in color to the yummy center of a Rolo.

In other words, don’t try to describe leather colors when hungry.

The doors have a solid feel when closing, but the sound isn’t as reassuring as the feel. There’s a hollow sound – not tinny like one would expect from a ‘70s-vintage compact, but not the bank vault “thunk” so fetishized by those infatuated with German luxury cars. It’s just an odd sound that seems out of character for the rest of the car.

2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Palatial Ruby Interior, Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn

The cargo area was roomy. Its Divide-N-Hide cargo system allows the floor to be lowered or raised, and provides a hidden spot for valuables. It kept my camera nicely out of sight while I perused the grocery store, and protected it from a sliding gallon of milk shortly after.

2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Palatial Ruby Instrument Panel, Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn

The Rogue was also fitted with the SL Premium Package, which adds a panoramic moonroof, LED headlamps and forward emergency braking. The Platinum Package further adds intelligent cruise control, lane departure warning and prevention, and pedestrian detection for forward emergency braking. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to test the pedestrian detection — I’d rather not be the first auto journalist arraigned on vehicular homicide charges if for some reason it doesn’t work — but the other features were welcome while cruising home after a long day at the office.

2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Palatial Ruby infotainment, Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn

The 7-inch display on this SL trim was bright and clear, offered great surround views when parking, and warned me of a possibly suicidal black cat napping in my driveway. The nine-speaker Bose premium audio system was distortion free when I cranked the knob to wake the kids.

My only gripe about the infotainment comes from the interplay between the steering wheel controls and the row of media selection buttons to the left of the touchscreen. I set 14 preset stations for the SiriusXM satellite radio, but there are only six “slots” for stations per media selection — SXM1, SXM2, and SXM3. In most vehicles I’ve driven, I can toggle easily between all the presets across all three selections via the steering wheel controls, but the Rogue would only allow me the six presets per SXM set. I had to press the SXM button on the center stack if I wanted to move to the next six. It’s a minor annoyance, but it bugs me.

Driving the Rogue was uneventful — in a good way. Those 19-inch alloy wheels, paired with 55-series tires, should have given a jarring ride, but the drive was quiet, even over pockmarked Ohio side roads and interstates. I heard no rattles, even when center-punching a poorly marked speed bump at something over the speed limit.

Yes, Nissan persists in using the continuously variable transmission it pioneered among mass-market vehicles. I can say, however, its latest CVTs are immensely improved over earlier models. I drove a 2008 Sentra for about a year as a company vehicle – that was an unfortunate, miserable driving experience, where the CVT answered my calls for a change in road speed with more sound than actual progress. The 2017 Rogue, however, feels almost as good as a traditional, torque-converter automatic. The only time I noticed the lack of traditional gear ratios was when I mashed the throttle to accelerate in passing maneuvers; there was a perceptible hesitation before I could confidently make my move. I soon found that pulling the shift lever to the left and rearward twice to select a lower ratio allowed more immediate acceleration, though I’m certain fuel economy suffered a bit.

Over my week, the Rogue achieved 23.2 miles per gallon over mostly city driving – somewhat shy of the 25 mpg city and 27 mpg combined EPA ratings. It was barely broken in, with fewer than 2,500 miles on the odometer. This, and perhaps my heavy foot, may have affected my mileage. Nonetheless, it was a disappointing figure.

Would I Buy the Nissan Rogue?

I’ll preach it from the mountaintops: the minivan is the ideal family vehicle, full stop. Still, not every driver will consider the van. My wife is one of those who’d prefer an SUV, and she was closely checking out the Rogue as a potential replacement for her current truck.

I don’t think I — nor my wife — would option the Rogue quite as thoroughly as our $35,475 tester. The base Rogue S starts at $24,720 after delivery, and stepping to an all-wheel drive S will cost $26,070. I’d definitely choose AWD. No, central Ohio isn’t particularly difficult terrain, but our frequent trips to the in-laws in hilly southern Ohio often require four driven wheels to escape. I’d likely choose an SV AWD trim in the magnificent Monarch Orange (yeah, I’d pay the extra $395 for that color, but my wife might not) with the $1,380 SV Premium package for the Around View Monitor, making my total $29,305 delivered. That gives me a great, well-equipped family vehicle for under $30,000.

Nissan has a done a magnificent job of building a car that fits most needs. The Rogue deserves every bit of praise one can heap upon it.

Mercifully, they haven’t made it a convertible. After all, it really isn’t a Miata.

[Images © 2017 Chris Tonn/The Truth About Cars]

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45 Comments on “2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Review – The Miata of Crossovers?...”

  • avatar

    I’ve heard Nissan interiors are improving. This one certainly looks nice.

  • avatar

    Since you called out the Miata-ness of the Rogue, Chris, how would you compare it to the CX-5?

    • 0 avatar
      Chris Tonn

      Haven’t yet driven the CX-5, unfortunately.

    • 0 avatar

      I only test drove the Rogue (2016) and bought the CX-5. No contest really, Mazda hands down. Better steering, overall handling and more fun to drive. Plus no CVT. Rogue is a nice car, it’s between the Mazda and the Honda and Toyota in my view, as a “sporty” 4 banger CUV.

  • avatar

    CVTs, and automatics in general, are OK when paired with engines of adequate power for the vehicle. I recently had Honda Fit and Accord loaners with CVTs…. the transmissions were fine, responsive even. The only difference in my powertrain satisfaction was that the Accord delivered adequate thrust that the Fit couldn’t. Given that the Rogue only weighs 100-200lb more than the Accord I had, with an engine making similar power, I imagine it gets going respectably.

    Of the CUVs in this segment I’d actually buy though (i.e. I still don’t quite trust the domestics) it would have to be the CR-V with that new turbo engine.

    • 0 avatar

      I would agree with that sentiment. The CVT in the Accord is really fantastic. Also, Nissan has done a good job with the CVT mated to a V6. That’s where the transmission really shines, in my opinion.

      • 0 avatar

        If the CRV didn’t exist, we would have seriously considered the Rogue (but we would have probably bought a Forester). I really like how it handled.

        • 0 avatar

          My parents came out to visit a few years ago and had a previous generation Rogue as a rental from the Albuquerque Sunport for the 2.5 hour drive out to see us. Hilly interstate most of the way. Dad said he’d booked the Nissan just to test the CVT. Claimed he couldn’t tell much of difference between it and a conventional automatic.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes. The CVT in our 2014 Civic pretty much sucks, the car feels lethargic and the engine moans while the CVT constantly changes ratio to attempt to deliver acceleration. The same style transmission in our 2016 Civic is not even remotely as annoying…because the car has enough power to begin with.

      I drove a rental Altima a while ago, and again, the CVT was not bad at all.

      The problem is when you stuff a CVT into a car that barely has enough power to get out of its own way to begin with.

      I drove a Rogue. It wasn’t bad. But I’m curious how the new CR-V with the 1.5T drives in comparison to a Rogue.

  • avatar

    With the exception of the Nissan’s current gen grillwork, I think this is a nice improvement over the previous model. A friend has one and he seems very pleased with it. I’d probably move this down my list just for the CVT.

    I like the leather color combo. Brown has also been a favorite with the standard black colors.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “I’m not sure how I’m supposed to test the pedestrian detection”

    Blowup doll? Donald Trump cutout?

  • avatar

    My mom got one and loves it. I have only ridden in it, never driven it, and it seemed decent enough. Material quality seems lower than my Golf, but has more bells and whistles (my mom loves the 360 view when parking, especially as her previous car was a 2011 Sonata with no back up cam), and of course larger, for about the same price as my car was. I also noticed the weird door closing sound. Not tinny, but not a very satisfying sound.

    And that is about all I can contribute about this car. Would probably choose a competitor over it if needed a CUV (not a huge Nissan fan) but it is a very solid member of the segment.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The new CR-V looks like it may out-Miata the Rogue, but the interior on this loaded Nissan looks quite nice and–unlike the Honda–the exterior styling doesn’t make me wince. For me, a minivan is overkill until you have three kids, so I’d be looking at this segment and not vans. But what I would probably end up with is a Golf wagon.

  • avatar

    Well-written PR release. You might want to get in touch with your employer and let them know it was delayed because it accidentally got sent over instead to The Truth About Cars.

  • avatar

    Ever since I rode in a Rogue almost three years ago, I was impressed. Especially so that Wifey’s CR-V is very long in the tooth and quite dated compared to what’s available nowadays. The new one like the photo above is really attractive, much more than a Rav4 or CR-V.

    I keep my distance from anything Nissan, but a Rogue would deserve a serious look if I were in the market for a CUV.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    “Mercifully, they haven’t made it a convertible.”
    -I’d be interested in a convertible compact CUV!

  • avatar

    19″ wheels?! I know you were facetious about calling this the Miata of crossovers, but Mazda is resisting the trend toward ever-larger wheels on every vehicle which casts a shadow on the sales lot.

    I assume the base wheel is 18″, which is also ridiculous.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    “I’ll preach it from the mountaintops: the minivan is the ideal family vehicle, full stop.”

    If this was a review of a Pilot, Highlander, Traverse, etc etc etc, the comment would make sense, but a minivan is quite a bit larger than this style/size CUV and frankly not a good foil. It should be pretty clear why someone interested in a small CUV for their 1-2 kids is not interested in a giant minivan. A Honda Odyssey is a foot and a half longer and 7″ wider than this Rogue. That’s a meaningful difference.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. I didn’t understand that comment at all. Plus, only one minivan has AWD, and none of them can touch these small CUVS for gas mileage. So for the working mom or dad of 1-2 kids who needs to commute, a minivan is a terrible choice compared to any of these CUVS.

  • avatar

    Nissan calls that interior color tan. LOL It’s the basketball orange brown that others call Moroccan etc. Not a color that hold much appeal to me as I would rather see a darker shade of brown or god forbid a nice shade of medium blue. It seems like everybody is offering this weird color on there highest trim levels these days. It’s also hard to believe these little CUV’s are steadily creeping up into the high 30’s bracket with common everyday NA 4 cylinder engines. I still would much rather have a mid size sedan with a performance engine option that is not only lighter but far more fun to drive and less top heavy with better mileage and power. If I wanted to actually haul things around a minivan or larger sized 3 row SUV would be so much more preferable to these compact CUV’s in my view.

  • avatar

    As reviews go, this was pretty weak. Nary a mention of how it compares to it’s chief competition (even if you hadn’t driven them, at least a nod to the spec sheets would be nice, or, better yet, a trip to the competition dealers to at least take those on a five-minute test drive), and maybe a little more detail in the review other than “it’s large, seems nice enough, the drivetrain doesn’t appear to suck, and the car was about what I expected” would be nice. (I did a once-over, comparing it to my ’17 CR-V, and the Rogue seems wanting, as far as content-for-MSRP goes.)

    How well does the phone integration work? Was the adaptive cruise well-behaved? How did it feel during emergency maneuvers? (I don’t blame you for skipping the tedious bits about things like how it performs when you drive it like a complete idiot… if you are worrying about the understeer threshold or causing brake fade on this kind of car, you are driving it wrong.)

    This looked more like a “first drive” (like what might be obtained at a quickie press event) than an actual review, which is surprising since you had it a week.

    (Also, is the little disclosure: a la “Nissan provided us with the car and a tank of gas for a couple days” no longer a thing here?)

    • 0 avatar

      FWIW (this is based on a 5-10 minute highway stint), the radar cruise is fairly responsive, but even on the closest setting, still leaves 3-4 car lengths (in urban settings, an enormous gap). Also, it picked up the car on the offramp beside me as an obstacle and slowed down massively to avoid a car that wasn’t even remotely in my way.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Regarding “content for msrp”, the Nissan usually has the most off msrp of compact CUVs with the exception of Mitsubishi.

  • avatar

    I had a nearly identical Rogue for a couple days last week, and managed to get even worse fuel economy than you (about 12L/100km as per the display, about 20mpg). This was admittedly very urban driving, and with some verve (it’s not slow, but it’s not exactly eager to move), and on an even greener unit (about 2000km on the odometer). Considering the Nissan 2.5 is a bit coarse and nasty, I’d hope for better fuel economy (I tend to find the EPA city numbers match my driving reasonably well).

    Also, the voice command system is needlessly byzantine (and no matter how hard I tried, interpreted my asking for channel thirty three as eighty three), the bottom of the rear window is high enough to make the backup camera absolutely necessary (I’d see less than the top foot of regular cars behind me at stop lights), and there’s still some cheap touches (I mostly noticed the plastic piece on the top of the shifter, as it wasn’t embedded enough to hide the molding flash).

    It drove fine otherwise. I think the marginally bigger Kia Sorento (the last reasonably priced crossover I brought home) might be packaged a little better though, as it’s a slightly more suitable 7-seater from a barely larger footprint.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    This is a reasonably-competitive car. However, I test-drove the 2017 CR-V (EX-L 2WD), and came away impressed in a way that I don’t feel would occur with the Rogue. Of course, the new CR-V’s styling is polarizing, but I like it.

  • avatar

    Sprayed my coffee on the screen when I saw “Base price: $32,210” at the top, had to frantically scan to the bottom to find the real base price of “26,020 with AWD.”

    Forester MSRP starts at about $23k stripped, and ~$25k with some content – similar MPG power/trans, but better AWD (and optional 6MT FTW!). At the top end ~$35k range for these things, Subaru adds some sweet sweet 250hp/tq power to the mix. But the Nissan 360 camera stuff is very cool.

    Rogue and Forester are equally homely in my eyes.

  • avatar

    This is the planet’s least exciting vehicle by a country mile.

  • avatar

    The Miata of crossovers? With a CVT?


  • avatar

    So the wife got one of these last year (2016 lease).

    One major annoyance I have with this vehicle is with the buttons on the nav/display unit. For anyone wtih average or larger sized digits (fingers) the buttons are ridiculously small. So small in fact that ‘feel’ will not help you while driving. You will always have to look at the buttons to use them or to avoid pushing two of them at the same time.

  • avatar

    Drove a 2015 Rogue Select when the Nissan dealership gave me a loaner car.
    The vehicle was Not good. Very tight and not enough interior space, loud engine and didn’t handle well.

    Sat in the newer 2016 Rogue in a showroom and was surprisingly impressed.
    The interior got relatively bigger with better interior materials. Haven’t road tested the vehicle. Appears the 2017 version got relatively better in sizes, materials and performance.

    Have a 2014 Nissan Altima and the CVT/engine is loud esp. upon start up and Cold temperatures. Once the engine warms up, the CVT/engine quiets down.
    The CVT/engine is TERRIBLE in cold weather and you MUST let it warm up and sucks in getting low mpg. It works better in warm weather and gets better mpg.

    Not in the market for a CUV but I’d consider the following models:
    1. Nissan Rogue
    2. Honda CRV
    3. Toyota Rav4

    Would prefer a hybrid CUV (AWD since I’m in New England and need it for the bad weather like snow/rain). It appears that the Honda CRV is getting relatively better reviews than the other 2 though the Rav4’s price is more affordable.

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