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Nissan Rogue: Well-Heeled Hybrid for 2017

By Frank A. Aukofer, February 25th, 2017

Nissan took advantage of an opportunity when the movie "Rogue One" opened. It trimmed up a 2017 Rogue, mainly with logos, badges, decals, and black paint. Then Nissan cut a deal with the movie producers and introduced it in Los Angeles as the Star Wars Rogue One Limited Edition.

Based on the Rogue SV version, the Star Wars model comes only in Glacier White or Magnetic Black. It features a charcoal interior and Limited Edition floor mats along with Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire cupholder inserts. Production is limited to 5,000 models and buyers receive a replica Death Trooper black helmet.

Actually, the Rogue has been doing quite well without venturing into the cosmos. It is now the best-selling vehicle in the Nissan line-up, totting up 329,904 sales in 2016.

Also new for this year is a Rogue Hybrid, the subject of this review. It joins the Rogue's other models: S, SV, and SL, in front- or all-wheel drive. Non-hybrid models offer optional third-row seats to boost the accommodations to seven passengers. The Hybrid's battery pack nestles under the cargo area, precluding a third-row seat. The Rogue Hybrid starts at $26,240.

Because of the batteries, the cargo floor is raised a couple of inches. But it still offers a generous 30 cubic feet of stowage space. Outboard second-row seats deliver ample head and knee room, and even the center position is usable. Seatbacks fold down for additional loads.

Like most hybrids that are not super-performance cars, this new Rogue's strong suit is fuel economy. It links a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with a 30-kWh electric motor. Together, they deliver 176 horsepower and EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption of 33/35/34 mpg in the tested front-drive version. The front-drive gasoline model is rated at 26/33/29 mpg.

Like other Nissans, the Rogue Hybrid sends its power to the wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission, which uses a system of belts and pulleys to seamlessly multiply gear ratios and transfer the engine's power without the shift points of a traditional automatic transmission.

Nissan has extensive experience with CVTs connected to engines of different power and has largely eliminated characteristics that have prompted criticisms, like a noisy sensation that the transmission is slipping.

However, Nissan finesses even minor criticisms with computer programming that mimics shift points under hard acceleration or when manually shifting the CVT. The Rogue Hybrid also features a Sport mode that holds the shift points to higher engine revolutions for better acceleration, which of course guzzles extra gasoline.

Like other hybrids, the Rogue can be driven for short distances on electric power alone. But the gasoline engine soon kicks in for hybrid driving. It also employs an automatic engine stop-start system to contribute to fuel economy.

As a result, one might notice a bit of hesitation off the line when the driver punches the throttle. Once underway, the Rogue Hybrid feels strong and has no problem keeping up with traffic.

Overall, this hybrid doesn't feel much different from its internal combustion counterpart, mainly because its gasoline engine runs most of the time. It cruises comfortably and quietly, with a ride that's a touch on the soft side, and tracks truly on straight roads. There is a bit of body lean on curves but nothing that causes anxiety as long as you slow down.

With its top-line SL trappings, the Rogue Hybrid comes well heeled with full safety equipment, including automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Features also include a panoramic glass sunroof, leather upholstery with heated front seats and memory settings for the driver's seat, 7-inch touch screen with navigation and a rear overhead camera view, SXM satellite radio with real-time traffic information, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone automatic climate control, and Siri Eyes Free operation of vehicle functions. Exterior touches include LED turn signals and daytime running lights, roof rails, fog lights, and heated outside power mirrors.

Specifications

Base price $31,160 (as tested: $33,920)
Curb weight 3,685 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Engine type 4-cyl. and 30kW electric motor
Epa mileage rating 33 mpg city, 35 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 14.5 gal.
Horsepower (net) 141 at 6000 rpm (176 combined)
Overall length 184.5 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 144 at 3600 rpm
Transmission CVT
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD midsize CUV
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