Review: 2015 Nissan Rogue S

The words “compact SUV” can be deceiving. Will the vehicle have just enough room or leave you wishing you had made the jump to a mid-sized SUV once the kids are past the booster seat phase? We spent a week road testing a 2015 Nissan Rogue S to see if it fits a family with teens and tweens and this is what we found.

2015 Nissan RogueUnder the Hood:

The 2015 Nissan Rogue S features a standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. This is mated to Nissan’s Xtronic CVT® continuously variable transmission. While the horsepower and torque numbers aren’t as high as others in the segment, the engine/transmission combo work together to provide a fun-to-drive experience that never leaves you wanting for acceleration. The combo is also tuned to work together efficiently resulting in a best-in-class 33MPG on the highway.

We drove the Rogue through our normal day-to-day tasks and testing areas which include foothills, metro interstates and highways, as well as urban stop-and-go. We never wanted for additional acceleration, and never felt a shortage of power in “regular” mode.

The new Rogue sports an Eco Mode. A push of the ECO button to the left of the steering wheel tells the engine and transmission to work together under normal driving conditions to ensure fuel consumption is kept to a minimum by not allowing the vehicle to accelerate too quickly. While we were never in a position to test it, Nissan assures us the Rogue will respond appropriately to provide sufficient power in an emergency requiring rapid acceleration though from a stop at a stop sign straight onto a relatedly flat road, we felt like we may have been able to pull the Rogue faster than it accelerated.

2015 Nissan Rogue 5Cruise control worked as expected. We stayed within 1MPH of our set speed on relatively flat ground. Steep downhills only saw us going over the set speed by about 5MPH.

Exterior:

The Rogue looks like a sleeker cousin of the Subaru Outback and Toyota Pathfinder. While we weren’t crazy about the chrome accents on the outside of the vehicle at first, they grew on us and added to the overall appearance that communicated a level of refinement over the previous generation Rogue.

LED headlamp lights make the Rogue appear aggressive during nighttime drives while providing bright, focused illumination. The turn signals illuminate side mirror lights but do not provide distraction during nighttime driving.

Cameras on front and back of the vehicle that work with the infotainment system are hidden while side mirror camera don’t distracting from the overall look of the vehicle yet provide a clear view for parking and when the vehicle reverses.

The Rogue’s extra-wide opening doors are extremely functional and allow everything from getting groceries to the after-school load-in to be just that much easier.

2015 Nissan Rogue 2Interior:

Unexpectedly deep wells under the front seats make for the perfect unintended storage for all pencils, crayons, handheld devices, water bottles, and anything else accidentally dropped by backseat passengers during travel. Front seat passengers who have the distinction of dropping their phone between the door and seat will find it stowed in the well also. These wells cannot be accessed without unbuckling and crouching in the rear passenger doorframe. Don’t even try to squeeze your adult fingers between the door and the front seat- it’s just not going to turn out well.

Zero Gravity seating is firm but comfortable. Even on extended trips the firmness does not allow for a sore backside. Middle row seats leave enough room for children and average-sized adults while third row seating is a great place to store luggage when erect or stowed.

With third row seating lowered via the EZ Flex Seating System which actually as easy to use as advertised, the Rogue has enough room to make road trip storage an ease.

2015 Nissan RogueWhile the model Nissan gave us to drive didn’t have a moonroof, another model we drove had one and it was a fantastic add-on, barely changing the exterior look of the Rogue while providing light and sky viewing for the first and second rows of seating.

Buttons, nobs, and wands were intuitively places in the Rogue though we admittedly prefer Toyota’s steering wheel control set-up and overall wheel design.

The center console armrest provided plenty of functionality in its depth and breadth allowing plenty of room for two elbows to rest without touching each other.

Storage for electronic devices was relegated to a tray under the center stack and the center console making us miss the seemingly abundant offerings of the Ford Fusion Energi and Toyota Highlander while still providing accommodation for one smartphone to rest while charging.

Abundant cup/bottle holder storage space is one of Nissan’s hallmarks and the Rogue fits the bill perfectly offering 10 including two in the third row. We also found the upholders to be deeper that what you’d normally find with them able to hold almost 2/3 of an iced grande drink from Starbucks internally.

2015 Nissan RogueSeating/Storage:

Five bags of groceries comfortably fit in the back of the Rogue with the third row seating engaged while you can fit grocery shopping and a stroller in the back with the third row stowed.

For as comfortable and functional the Rogue’s second row seating is, it’s third row seating is equal proportions of uncomfortable and non-functional. Getting in the third row, while easy in terms of moving the seats, is not worth the hassle for adults to attempt. Children big enough to go sans car seat won’t want to bother trying to fit in the back and probably won’t. When the second row seating is pushed far enough back to fit teens and adults legs, there is maybe two inches of space for legs in the third row.

We were also impressed with the vehicle’s Divide-N-Hide Cargo System which made a trip to the grocery store after a trip to the mall seem a bit more secure.

2015 Nissan Rogue 5Infotainment:

The NissanConnect℠ system is the best in-vehicle technology system we’ve used this year in comprehending commands. Making your entire vehicle connectivity experience nearly hands free, the system quickly and accurately picks up  voice commands, finding the information quickly and replying to your commands in a peasant voice.

However, that’s where the praise ends. We drove the vehicle for a week and still can’t tell you how to program the radio. We (him, her, and together) read that section of the manual more than once. We tried adding four radio stations to a preferred list more than once and never got one set. We still can’t tell you what we were doing wrong.

When it came to commanding infotainment screens on the front instrument panel via the steering wheel controls, choosing which button to use to get to the screen you wanted was not intuitive. Even after a week straight of driving we found ourselves wanting to see fuel economy and would end up changing the radio station instead.

We also found the navigation system to be stubborn in that it had a very hard time recalculating our route when we purposefully diverged from the route it chose for a parallel road heading the same direction. For over five miles the system kept telling us to u-turn and go back to the exit we got off the highway at as opposed to recalculating to advise us to get on at nearest exit (there were 3, one mile apart, easily accessible with only one righthand turn proceeding 1/4 mile or less).

2015 Nissan Rogue 3Our household was torn when discussing the Advanced Drive-Assist®Display vlid spot alert system. Located next to the side mirrors on the interior of the car, one of us felt like they never notice the light when driving while the other found the placement perfect. What we discovered it comes down to is where you look when you look at the side mirror. After much discussion we discovered that one of us tends to focus toward the outer edge of the mirror while the other looks more toward the cooer 2/3 of the mirror. What we did agree on is that the system worked as advertised.

The Drive:

There’s no mistaking it. The Rogue is fun to drive. It’s no Stingray but the compact vehicle handles more like a coupe than an SUV. But, we found it more fun to drive in “regular” mode than Sport mode. In regular mode the vehicle was more drivable while in Sport mode the handling became sticky, flat, and hard- fun for the track but not for a curvy road.

Important Numbers for Families:

  • 33/26 – The MPGs of the Rogue are impressive for family daily trips and roadtrips. Despite trying to get below 26 MPG, 27.1 is the low that we hit throughout our week of driving.
  • 77° – Doors open a whopping 77° which may cause some issues in a tight parking lot but overall were a fantastic benefit to ease in loading groceries, kids, and luggage.
  • 6 – The 6-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar is one of those features those of us on the shorter end of the height spectrum will love.
  • 2 – When you opt for the moonroof, you will lose two inches of headroom in the first and second rows of seating.

Family 5 Test:

  • Car Seats – With the 77° degree opening doors, the Rogue makes loading in car seats a breeze. There is plenty of leg room for kids in those seats in the second row as well. Though not easy to manage, you can fit two children in car seats in the third row.
  • Coffee Cups – No windy road no pothole was able to spill our venti Americano from Starbucks which we believe was directly related to the depth of the cup holders.
  • Luggage – With the third row fully upright, There is barely enough room for two carryon suitcases horizontally placed. However, with the third row stowed flat, there was plenty of room for enough luggage for a family of four to do a weeklong road trip.
  • Golf Clubs – If you don’t mind stacking them one bag on top of another, you can fit multiple sets of clubs in the back of the Rogue with the third row upright. Stowed flat, you can fit your foursome and all their clubs in the vehicle comfortably.
  • Groceries – A quick trip to Target or Whole Foods won’t have you needing to put down the third row. We hit our max with five full bags in the back without having to put down the third row.

The Bottom Line:

When you drive the Rogue its easy to forget that you’re in an SUV. For those women becoming stepmothers or mothers for the first time who may be having anxiety at the thought of a minivan and need better fuel economy than a larger SUV, the Rogue is a great option. For guys who like to drive, you won’t lose the fun of the drive while still be able to fit your family and many of their belongings for road trips. With the Rogues’s MSRP ranging from $22,790 for the S to $28,280 for the SL, the Rogue sits comfortably among its rivals- the Honda CRV and Ford Escape.

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To see more pictures and video from this vehicle test and future tests, follow Drive My Family on InstagramTwitterFacebook, and Vine (@DriveMyFamily).

first and “infotainment” image courtesy of Nissan
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