Car manufacturers have always had an interesting time when it comes to naming their products. Over the years, they’ve given us monikers such as Gremlin, Judge, Duster and, way back when, the Utopian Turtletop – although, in fairness, Ford didn’t choose this last one when unveiling the new 1958 Edsel but they thought about it.
The Japanese have jumped in with both feet as well, with names like Big Thumb, Leopard J. Furie, Naked, Town Box and, more recently, Juke, Kicks and Rogue – the latter three coming from Nissan’s fertile imagination.
I recently spent some time with the new Nissan Rogue and it’s anything but roguish. This is a mainstream, garden-variety compact SUV and, all things considered, that’s a good thing.
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With a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and a combined fuel economy rating of 8.1 litres/100 km, the Rogue is offered in three trim levels: S, SV and Platinum. It has a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and available all-wheel drive. I drove the Platinum version.
You can choose from five driving modes, including snow, off-road and eco. I left mine in eco and it worked well enough. The Rogue isn’t what I’d call a hotrod anyway and the four-cylinder engine is adequate, but not much more.
Appealing to mainstream buyers is what this rig is all about. It’s big enough to be useful, but not unwieldy or boat-ish like some full-size SUVs.
There are no weird surprises and Nissan seems to have learned its lesson when it comes to oddball interior design. The interior of this one is among its nicest features with understandable, user-friendly switchgear and comfortable, diamond-tufted upholstery. Five grown-ups will be comfy and the cargo area is easy to get at.
There’s plenty in the way of nanny features and driver aids: hill-start assist, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, four peripheral cameras, lane departure warning, traction control and so on. I can do without some of these things but they’re there should you need them.
My favourite is Intelligent Driver Alertness, which automatically senses if you’re getting fatigued – during a long cross-country drive, for example – and warns you via a cute little coffee cup icon on the instrument panel.
- Loved the heated steering wheel and three-setting heated front seats. These work well, and get going quickly and efficiently.
- Grew to appreciate the heads-up display. It’s unobtrusive and comes in handy.
- Still not a fan of the CVT. Nissan has refined this technology and it’s definitely better than it used to be, but can be vague and fuzzy during stop-and-go traffic.
- Fold the back seats down and you’ve got almost 2,100 litres (74 cubic feet) of space back there. The Honda CR-V has 2,146 litres, so about par in the cargo carrying department.
- This rig is nice and quiet during operation. Noise, vibration and harshness are minimal, and the only other Japanese manufacturer I can think of with better numbers here is Mazda. Definitely quieter during operation than Honda, for example.
- Decent pricing. You can pick up a front-drive S model for under $30,000 (before taxes, etc.) and while it may not have all the extras and goodies, it still comes well-equipped.
The Rogue is not an off-roader by any stretch of the imagination but it’s the latest incarnation of the station wagon some of us grew up with – family transport, aimed squarely at hockey moms, dog owners and weekend warriors.
But a Rogue?
I think not.
2021 Nissan Rogue
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder
Transmission: continuously variable (CVT)
Drive: front-wheel and all-wheel
Horsepower: 181 at 6,000 rpm
Torque: 181 at 4,400 rpm
Price range: $28,498 to $39,998
Fuel economy: 8.9 litres/100 km (city) and 7.0 litres/100 km (highway)
Some alternatives: Honda Pilot, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Volkswagen Tiguan, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, Subaru Forester
Ted Laturnus writes for Troy Media’s Driver Seat Associate website. An automotive journalist since 1976, he has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist of the Year twice and is past-president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).
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