2016 Nissan Rogue
Published on Mon, Mar 14, 2016
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Zoran Segina
When faced with a well-based criticism about one of its products, a manufacturer has several options to quell negative opinions. The most expensive one is a complete redesign of a vehicle. Less drastic modification may include changing the power plant, redesigning vehicle systems, modifying existing components on an existing platform and so on and so forth. In the case of the 2015 Nissan Rogue SL AWD which we reviewed back in July of 2015, the principal focus of the criticism was the tested vehicle's price point of $32,000. The luxury Rogue was too expensive for the package it offered. So when the manufacturer provided us with a 2016 press model of the same car, Nissan did the simplest and often the most advantageous modification - supplying an "ordinary" version of the Rogue. Given that the manufacturer's suggested retail price is $28,245, and the fact that, locally, the true market value hovers around twenty-five grand, our evaluation of the Rogue came from a completely different angle.
The right price and the rain. The Rogue was tested during the week of the first El Nino storm which drenched Southern California. Just like a track, the rain can be a great equalizer because it shows a true capability of a tested vehicle - in this case a cross-over utility - in adverse conditions. During torrential downpours the Rogue proved to be a true "Regenmeister" - a rain master of the freeways and side streets around Los Angeles. Point the Rogue on the freeway, and the tires are hugging the road running through puddles and splashes and everything else, not being affected by the wet pavement at all. The seventeen-inch wheels are just the right size to offer good traction and road handling where there should be little of either. After the rain the local media was full of criticism of the drivers who were driving in the rain as though the roadways are dry. But what if one is handling a car like a Rogue which does not exhibit any hesitation or slipping despite the adverse conditions? What if the continuously variable transmission prevents wheel slippage on acceleration, and the power-assisted disk brakes reassuringly stop the Rogue in the most challenging conditions. (Please note - I was not zooming around like a maniac, and my driving attitude was adjusted for the conditions of the road and the technical capabilities of the vehicle entrusted to me.) It just so happens that the technical capabilities of the Rogue showed no limitation despite the wet pavement and stormy weather. Would you consider me a dangerous driver? I did not text or stare into a phone. I always left enough space between me and the vehicle in front of me to safely stop the Rogue if I had to. I checked the handling and slipping on an empty parking lot to test the limits of the car I do not know in the conditions I have not encountered before. I was focused on driving. Does this sound dangerous?
One objection involves an anemic and wheezy horn. The vehicle with this level of capability should have a more sonorous and authoritative means of asserting its presence. Another problem is the trunk light; positioned low on the right hand side. In the black trunk one can't see - bleep. Especially on a gloomy day early in the morning.
The four- cylinder engine can be set to sport, but frankly, the hundred and seventy horses provide enough oomph in the standard mode that the sport setting may be a little overkill, especially in wet weather. In the ECO mode, however, the engine's performance in notably degraded, but one saves on gas.
There are details. Windshield visors are massive and cover the field greatly. Driving into the setting sun which tried to poke through the rain was made easier by the fact that I was not blinded.
My mechanic William finds the Rogue particularly appealing. He is a professional who has seen his share of engine spaces and interiors. William likes the undulating surfaces of the Rogue, by now a Nissan design trademark. In reviewing the engine compartment he notice that Honda has a similar engine and component layout. But he is most impressed by the fact that the Rogue offers a lot of car for the money.
Nissan has recently announced efforts to create an autonomous car - a vehicle that will drive itself, at least on a single lane of freeway. The tested Rogue does not go that far, and in the mid-range SV model, one can see where savings occurred. The driver's seat adjustment is all electric, but the co-pilot's seat is mechanical. And yet Nissan did not skimp on the items that make driver's life easier. There are cameras front and back including a satellite birds-eye view of the Rogue. This prompts the driver to engage in progressively more complicated parking exercises. After two days, I am trying to squeeze the Rogue in the most improbable and inconvenient spaces. Positioning the car not perfectly parallel to the curb fills me with anxiety. Or if the Rogue does not sit precisely between the lines of the parking spot. One really gets spoiled. Since the system works in the dark, doing errands on a rainy night is a cinch.
There are three rows of seating. The second row is reasonably roomy, while the third row is reserved for children or people practicing for frequent flier awards on some of our airlines. (OK that's not fair. To Nissan.). On a business trip to Costa Mesa, Glendale and LA, my two passengers are comfortable. A small crisis unfolds when we do not know how to lower the rear bench elbow-rest which contains the cup holder. Finding a lever proves a challenge. Given the tough meeting ahead, and the need to review documents en route, my friend Russ' need for a strongly caffeinated commute (black, no sugar) is understandable. We finally locate the lever and Russ can sip his beverage while I am battling the traffic.
The center screen has a compass. The audio system offers a regular 12 plug as well as both USB and auxiliary ports. An ability to plug a cell phone while heading to a meeting may not seem like a big deal, but to a guy who needs a fully charged phone this is invaluable. Another detail - behind interior lights control a razor beam illuminates a portion of the center console where one may leave keys and trinkets.
The dashboard contains a button for surround sound. Perhaps Nissan improved the component, but I had no objection to the quality of the music ranging from Johnny Cash to Rachmaninoff.
An attempt to type the information on the display while underway triggers another clever device. The screen will freeze and dim the display indicating that the vehicle needs to be stopped before one can type changes. Once the Rogue is stationary, the brightness returns. Maintenance buttons allow the driver to set reminders when to change oil, check tires, etc. In Southern California, where some drivers are convinced that the tires should last the lifetime of the car, these reminders are helpful. Underway, the suspension is firm enough not the make the ride mushy, but not so stiff to make it uncomfortable. There are handles on all four doors. The second row of seats can be split in a 40-60 split. In the bottom of the exterior rear view mirror housing there is a light to alert the driver that traffic may come from a blind spot. The Rogue is equipped with a remote start/stop which is a great feature on a rainy dark morning while the key fob sits deep in the pocket of a raincoat. Or is it in the jacket? The interior is basic black, but different textures interlaid with brushed aluminum like plastic break the monotony and add a touch of class. The 2016 Rogue SV FWD is not an overwrought car with too many doodads. The components squeezed within its twenty-eight thousand dollars offer just enough to make the driver's life easier. Especially in the El Nino season. For more information about Nissan products, go to nissanusa.com SPECIFICATIONS: Name of vehicle: 2016 Nissan Rogue SV FWD Price: (base): $24,590.00 (as tested): $28,245.00 Engine type: 2.5 liter inline four-cylinder gasoline engine EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 26 /33 (La Car observed: 21.8) Horsepower: 170 hp @ 6,000 rpm Torque: 175 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm Drive configuration: front wheel drive Transmission type: Xtronic CVT Continuously Variable Suspension: Front: Independent strut front suspension with stabilizer bars Rear: Multilink, stabilizer bars Steering: Vehicle-speed-sensitive electric power steering Wheels: 17x7 inch aluminum alloy with Bridgestone Ecopia P 225/65 RF17, 100H tires. Brakes Front: 11.8 inch discs, ABS Brakes Rear: 11.7 inch discs, ABS Weight: 3422 lbs