2023 Nissan Rogue Review: No Soggy Bottom Here

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn

Fast Facts

2023 Nissan Rogue SV AWD

1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder (201 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm, 225 lb-ft @ 2,800 rpm)
Continuously-variable transmission, all-wheel drive
Fuel Economy, MPG
28 city / 35 highway / 31 combined (EPA Rating)
Fuel Economy, L/100km
8.4 city / 6.7 highway / 7.6 combined (NRCan Rating)
Base Price
$31,845 US / $38,518 CAN
As Tested
$37,420 US / $42,243 CAN
Prices include $1,295 destination charge in the United States and $1,920 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

Like much of the world over the past three years, we’ve been finding ourselves planted in view of our television a bit more than in the past. Streaming services have supplanted broadcast shows by offering episode after episode ready for gluttonous consumption. One glutinous show has taken over our screens in particular - The Great British Bake Off.

While I’m usually confined to my basement office pounding out screeds like this one in my hours away from the office, my wife and kids will devour a quartet of episodes in a single evening. I’ll wander to my recliner after a particularly nasty fight with writer’s block only to be greeted with aproned bakers covered in flour. I’ll admit to having attempted a few loaves and pastries in the recent past, too, inspired by these heroes of gluten. Beyond the competitors, the revolving cast of hosts and judges has taken the Netflix screen by storm. I know that there is one host who looks suspiciously like Joan Jett circa 1982, for example. But the patriarch of the series is celebrity baker Paul Holywood, known for harsh criticism and some signature accompanying quips. 

I mention this as I consider the arc of Nissan commuter vehicles since the turn of the century. Cost cutting and taking chances on innovative new tech have been the two often opposing hallmarks of non-enthusiast vehicles wearing the chrome hamburger on the nose. As a result, it often feels as if many products make it to the showroom floor before the new tech is fully baked. Is their latest compact crossover, the 2023 Nissan Rogue, under-proofed? Or does it have a tight crumb?

I often wonder if I’m overly harsh on Nissan’s products, or if their mainstream vehicles are simply underwhelming. Disclosure for those who haven’t read my work over the years, but I have long been what in the modern lingo would be called a Nissan fanboy. The vehicles of Nissan and Datsun have played an outsized part in making me an automotive enthusiast, so perhaps my critiques come from a mix of nostalgia and disappointment.

There’s no question that Nissan’s focus on sales volume alongside a dogged dedication to the massive investment in continuously-variable transmission technology has led to certain impressions most have of the brand over the past couple of decades. Journalists generally harp on how much they hate driving a CVT-equipped vehicle, of which Nissan has made an overwhelming majority. But we’ve seen a number of other automakers invest in the CVT - clearly engineers, beancounters, and buyers aren’t putting a ton of stock in what we reviewers have been saying.

After spending time in this latest Rogue, however, I’m beginning to feel a bit better about the future of the CVT. Perhaps they’ve ironed out the issues within the transmission, or they’ve finally paired the ideal engine with the funky ‘box. If you’ve glanced at the data panel above, you’ll note a decrease in the cylinder count from the past - the latest Rogue makes do with a 1.5-liter three-cylinder using the company’s variable compression technology. I’m convinced that this is an excellent pairing of engine and transmission, each complementing their strengths while minimizing weaknesses. 201 horsepower out of this tiny mill is impressive.

More impressive is the fuel economy. Rated for 31mpg combined, I found that numbers of 35mpg or higher were easily achieved with even a fair bit of city driving. For the size of this vehicle, that’s excellent - and is achieved without the need for hybrid technology. That’s especially important as batteries add plenty of weight and can be very difficult to source at times. 

The Rogue has never been a styling champ, I’m afraid. It’s handsome enough, I guess, but it’s really hard to make a crossover look like anything more than yet another crossover. The soft edges of prior generations have been creased just a bit in this latest update, but it’s not what I’d call stunning. The Midnight Edition package fitted here, which adds black wheels, roof, and other trim for $1,535, doesn’t do much for me - I’d likely leave it off to save a few bucks. 

On the interior, the only significant complaint I have is with the finishing of a couple of plastic surfaces. Most notably, the windshield wiper stalk on the right side of the steering column has a sharp ridge where the two halves of a mold came together during production. I’d normally write it off as a one-off issue, but I’ve noticed it on several Nissan products of late. It’s not enough to draw blood by any means, but just annoying enough to make a negative impression. A few minutes with sandpaper and/or a file would knock it down, I’m sure. The rest of the interior generally feels well-made and up to the competition, but I’d hate to ignore this and I’m surprised that Nissan lets their wiper stalk supplier off the hook with this oversight.

Most importantly, the interior comfort is excellent, with plenty of room for four good-sized folks or even five if the smallest three like each other. Rear cargo space is plentiful, too - this is a nicely sized compact that rides and drives nicely. My tester was fitted with the $2,660 SV Premium package, which adds heated front seats and steering wheel, a power liftgate, and a panoramic moonroof. I’ll admit that heated seats are wonderful, but I’d be tempted to ditch the package to make this a $32K crossover value.

I get it. It’s hard to get excited over a crossover. These loaf-shaped vehicles are the white bread of the automotive industry, not some artisan sourdough sportscar or luxury focaccia. But sometimes people just need a sandwich, and the 2023 Nissan Rogue makes the usual bologna and cheese commute a little less miserable.

[Images © 2023 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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2 of 30 comments
  • Conundrum Conundrum on Mar 23, 2023

    Three cylinder Ford Escapes, Chevy whatever it is that competes, and now the Rogue. Great, ain't it? Toyota'll be next with a de-tuned GR Corolla/Yaris powerplant. It's your life getting better and better, yes indeed. A piston costs money, you know.

    The Rogue and Altima used to have the zero graviy foam front seats. Comfy, but the new Rogue dumps that advance. Costs money. And that color-co-ordinated gray interior, my, ain't it luvverly? Ten years after they perfected it in the first Versa to appeal to the terminally depressed, it graduates to the Rogue.

    There's nothing decent to buy on the market for normal money. Not a damn thing interests me at all.

  • Chuck Norton Chuck Norton on Mar 25, 2023

    For those worried about a complex power train-

    What vehicle doesn't have one? I drive a twin turbo F-150 (3.5) Talk about complexity.. It seems reliability based on the number of F-150s sold is a non-issue. As with many other makes/models. I mean how many operations are handle by micro processors...in today's vehicles?

  • Geozinger Put in the veggie garden (Western Michigan, we still can get frost this late in the year) finished the remainder of the landscaping updates and hand washed both my beater Pontiac and the Town and Country! Going to the beach today...
  • Rochester I wouldn't obsess over the rate of change, it's happening whether we want it or not.
  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.