The 2017 Nissan Rogue makes a convincing case for that. After all, the most recent versions have been within sight of toppling the dominance of models like the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V among compact SUVs. But the Rogue has lacked the same level of panache and accomplishment as the best in class, which is why Nissan has given its popular SUV some new detailing and equipment after three years on the market. After all, the Rogue still needs every advantage in what’s become a segment where there are few bad choices for buyers.
To help with finding that advantage, Nissan has added the Rogue Hybrid for 2017 to give the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid some competition.
Nissan has been busy remodeling its SUVs and making them appear to be more rugged. Just as the Pathfinder got a new face earlier this fall, the Rogue gets cues from the Titan pickup instead of the softer and swoopier grille from last year’s version. New LED taillights and redesigned wheels, with 19-inch ones now offered, are also added, but the Rogue remains much as it was before on the outside.
People who’ve looked at a Rogue’s interior in the past might notice a spiffed up interior, especially on the more expensive versions. There are new and slightly classier trim pieces on every model, and slightly softer surfaces where your fingers and elbows might land. Top SL models are now available with a Platinum Reserve package, which mostly amounts to higher-quality leather upholstery inside that mimics what you get on the most expensive Titan trucks now.
Also added are new fabrics for cloth-upholstered S and SV models, a more practical center console, sport mode for the transmission and different trim finishes here and there. A heated steering wheel, memory settings for the driver’s power seat and hands-free opening for the power tailgate are now offered on the more lavish SL model. And the Rogue’s optional Around View monitor is among the best on the market for cameras that allow you to see every corner of the car from the center display.
More safety technologies are available on the 2017 Rogues than before. Adaptive cruise control is now offered on the SL, along with a lane departure warning and prevention and pedestrian detection for the forward emergency braking. Midlevel SV models get blind spot monitoring and rear traffic detection sensors as standard equipment now, which means most Rogues sold will get these two systems.
Most Rogues seat up to five people on two rows of seats, but the SV model can be had with an optional third-row seat to bring that capacity up to seven. You lose the spare tire in favor of run-flat tires and the two humans in the rearmost seats should be small and flexible. If you must have seven seats in a compact SUV, the Mitsubishi Outlander is a more commodious option.
A new variant for the 2017 Rogue is the Rogue Hybrid that’s available in SV and SL trims. But it is offered with front and all-wheel drive, unlike its archrival, the RAV4 Hybrid. That means you can eke out up to 35 mpg on the front-wheel-drive Rogue Hybrid, which is among tops for the compact SUV class. Non-hybrid Rogues are rated at maximum of 26 city, 33 highway by the EPA, which is also near the top of the segment.
While it’s not bad to drive, the Rogue isn’t a standout in any particular area once on the road. Road and engine noise seems improved over previous iterations thanks to revisions Nissan made for 2017, but it isn’t as refined as a Ford Escape, and certainly not as carlike as a Mazda CX-5. Still, none of the cars in this class are sports cars and drivers looking for a comfortable place to sit should find enough to like about the Rogue.
Power is also reasonably good, though highway on-ramps stir up the most noise in the gas-only model. The Rogue Hybrid, however, feels more energetic in town thanks to its surge of electric torque at low speeds and quiet operation. There’s little shudder when it transitions from electric to gas mode, too. And achieving fuel economy in the low 30s shouldn’t appear to be a problem in mixed driving, if the trip computer readout was anything to go by on the combination of town and highway driving we did on Georgia roads.
Prices start from a $23,820 for a front-wheel drive Rogue S, rising to $25,240 for the popular SV. All-wheel drive adds $1,350 on all models. All in, a fully equipped Rogue SL with the fancier leather and the driver assistance features rises to $35,290. Rogue Hybrid models are priced from $26,240 for the SV trim, which is a nominal difference when compared with the gas-only equivalent.
For those who drive in town and like to operate silently and efficiently, the Rogue Hybrid is probably distinctive enough to warrant serious consideration, and its engine setup seems to be a better fit for the Rogue’s relaxed nature. But while the Rogue doesn’t offend, it will have an uphill battle seducing those who feel like a $35,000 crossover should be the best at everything or somehow move them emotionally.
The 2017 Rogue gets the basics right, so it has that going for it.