Entry Price: $25,300; Price as tested: $36,095
This week, we’re driving Nissan’s bestselling vehicle, namely the 2020 Nissan Rogue. As consumers continue to move away from sedans and into SUVs in all shapes and sizes, the Rogue sales numbers speak for themselves.
Specifically, Rogue models have topped overall Nissan vehicle sales in 2017, 2018 and 2019, the latter year posting 350,447 units sold year to date. Its nearest family member is the good looking Altima sedan, whereas 209,183 were sold in 2019. Early indicators for 2020 point to another banner year for Rogue along with its new Kicks compact crossover. We’re awaiting sales numbers for 2020 as Nissan will report quarterly figures this year instead of monthly.
Our test drive Rogue arrived in top flight SL trim with All Wheel Drive (AWD) mechanicals. Notable is all 2020 Rogue models arrive with enhanced safety equipment including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, which assures potential consumers they are receiving some of the best high-tech Nissan safety items as standard fare. Additionally, intelligent lane intervention, Apple and Android compatibility and “Rear Door Alert” are all standard on each and every Rogue built. Rear door alert reminds drivers to check the back seats when heavier seat weight is detected, most notable children and dogs.
Available in three versions ala S, SV and top line SL, Rogue is a Smyrna, TN., built small to mid-size sport utility that starts at just $25,300 for the front drive (FWD) S. The AWD S starts at $26,650 and then jumps up to Rogue SV FWD at $26,720; SV AWD at $28,020; SL FWD at $31,690 and our top class tester SL AWD at $32,940.
Rogue is now in its second generation that began in 2014 following a 2008 introduction. This second generation Rogue features a half-inch longer wheelbase, better interior dimensions, more cargo space by over 10 cu. ft. and comfortable yet sporty suspension.
Under the hood, all Rogues receive power from Nissan’s trusty 2.5-liter 170-horsepower inline-4 that delivers 175 lb. ft. of torque. Power transfers through an improved Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that features both a “Sport Mode” and “Economy” selections. Thanks to CVT advancements the last few years, fuel mileage is very good as the front drive delivers 26 city and 33 highway while the AWD is just one less MPG at 25 and 32, respectively.
In years past, the CVT transmissions have been troublesome, but CVT manufacturers (not just Nissan) have addressed concerns and today’s units are more reliable. Still, regular readers of my column know I’ve never been a fan of CVT automatics but the reality is that more manufacturers than ever are using them.
Outwardly, Rogue’s pleasing motif is a combination of smooth lines and aerodynamic touches that satisfy most every consumer demographic. Other reasons for Rogue’s success are Consumer Reports 2020 buyers guide overall “Small SUV” recommendation and accompanying very good owner reliability ratings.
A few of the enhancements on our top line tester include standard Pro Pilot Assist technology, which provides assisted steering, braking and acceleration during single lane highway driving.
However, even if you buy an S grade Rogue, you’ll still receive excellent safety thanks to intelligent lane intervention, automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic, pedestrian detection, and all the traction controls and electronic vehicle dynamic controls.
Your dealer will explain all the differences and similarities of the three trims when you visit.
Inside, Rogue’s cabin roominess offers convenience and multi-task opportunities. With up to 70 cu. ft. of cargo space available, every seat except the driver’s folds down and the front passenger seat folds rearward allowing transport of items like an 8-foot ladder or even a Kayak when combined with the 40/20/40 flat folding second row seat.
Some of the upper-trim SL features include Halogen headlights, power touch lift gate, dual zone climate, fog lights, heated outside mirrors, Nissan Connect SiriusXM 9-speaker Bose Premium Audio with dual driver subwoofer, Nissan door-to-door navigation, Bluetooth, heated and power seats, heated steering wheel, and even a CD player. Notable, too, are reclining rear seats, dual zone climate control with rear seat vents, intelligent cruise, LED lights all around, rear automatic braking, high beam assist and much more.
Nissan’s technical initiatives show well with a fine-tuned independent suspension and automatic AWD drive system. Additionally, Rogue’s Vehicle Dynamic Control, traction control and other electronic assisted features make for an enjoyable driving experience regardless of weather conditions. On the freeways, it’s a comfortable, quiet vehicle that handles very well and when it comes to braking, all Rogues come with four-wheel disc ABS brakes for optimal stopping abilities. Our SL rides on Bridgestone 19-inch tires mounted to beautiful two-tone alloy black and silver wheels.
Important numbers include a 106.5-inch wheelbase, 3,671 lb. curb weight, from 39.3 to 70 cu. ft. of cargo space depending on seat arrangement, 1,102 lb. tow capacity and a 14.5-gallon fuel tank.
Options on our tester include an SL Premium Package that adds a power panoramic moonroof and LED lights for $1,820 more, while $290 adds nice carpeted floor mats with Rogue logo, first aid kit and cargo liner. These options brought the final tally to $36,095 retail with $1,045 delivery included.
It’s worth a visit to your Nissan dealer to drive this popular SUV. Make sure to ask about current discounts on both buy and lease programs as Nissan is aggressive in the area of incentives.
Likes: Looks, interior, safety on all trims, good reliability.
Dislikes: Noisy engine at full throttle, CVT, more horsepower would be nice.
Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist.