Emma Jayne Williams

Nissan Rogue proves to be a popular compact crossover for US consumers

The Rogue is still Nissan’s best selling vehicle, setting records for 2017 and continuing strong for 2018.

This small crossover is actually a very mainstream choice, despite the “Rogue” label, which is often used to describe someone who defies convention.

For 2018, Nissan gives the five-seater a massive tech upgrade, including an option with advanced technology putting Rogue on the road to self-driving: Nissan’s ProPilot Assist, included in a Platinum Package, along with an additional USB port, 19-inch alloy wheels and Electronic Parking Brake.

Basic updates include an infotainment system with a seven-inch screen and newly standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on every model, a power liftgate standard on higher models, and two new paint colors, Scarlet Ember (medium red, adds $395), and Midnight Pine (deep black/green). The optional third row has been dropped; it was so confining as to be almost useless.

The top grade adds standard Intelligent Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Intelligent Lane Intervention, and Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection. More sound insulation to help curb excess powertrain noise has also been added.

Rogue is available in three well-equipped trims: S, from $24,800; SV, from $26,020; and SL, from $31,180, all with front-wheel drive and a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, matched with an advanced Xrontic transmission with Sport and Eco modes. Intuitive all-wheel drive can be added for $1,350.

With locking center differential, hill-descent control, and brake-lock differential front and rear on all-wheel drive models, Rogue offers more hardware for light off-road driving than most of its competition.

Confidence-inspiring technologies include Intelligent Trace Control, Intelligent Engine Braking and Intelligent Ride Control, Electric Power-assisted Steering, Vehicle Dynamic Control with Traction Control, and hill-start assist. A tire-pressure monitoring system with position monitoring includes Nissan’s innovative Easy Fill Tire Alert.

Rogue’s styling is clean and crisp, following modern crossover design with a tall body, high belt line curving up toward the rear pillar, and subtle fender flares. The base S trim doesn’t have tinted windows and has common plastic hubcaps, whereas the SV and SL trims are sharper with more chrome touches.

Nissan’s signature V-Motion grille has a redesigned badge area, with wide chrome and matte black trimming the textured multi-blade grille, and LED signature Daytime Running Lights forming a reclining “V” beside the upper grille. A chrome bar trims the lower fascia.

Chrome surrounds the side windows, and trims the door handles and rocker panels. A chrome bar trims the liftgate below the Nissan badge, with a chrome bar along the lower bumper edge. Roof rails are also chrome.

My Rogue was the SL model with all-wheel drive in Caspian Blue (Royal) with a Platinum Reserve Interior package ($250) featuring tan leather-appointed seats with quilted-leather inserts, tan armrests – front and rear – center console padding, and dash, and piano black interior trim on the door panels – front and rear – the center console shifter area, control panel, screen surround, and the shifter.

The standard 18-inch wheels were replaced with aggressive 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with five silver bent “V” spokes featuring gloss-black painted pockets, included in a Platinum Package ($790) with Electronic Parking Brake, and ProPilot Assist.

ProPilot Assist, Rogue’s big news for 2018, is available only on the SL model, and can automatically accelerate, brake (navigate stop-and-go traffic) and maintain distance between vehicles with no driver intervention in certain situations. Steering assist can help keep the car centered and even steer for limited hands-off driving, all to ease driver workload and provide a more-confident driving experience.

The system operates using two buttons – the blue ProPilot Assist button on the right-side steering wheel spoke and the Intelligent Cruise Control button/buttons on the same spoke.

Steering assist depends on the visibility of lane markers, left and right, only operating when markings are clearly visible. During inclement weather if windshield wipers are fully engaged, steering assist is canceled. Steering assist goes into standby mode if the driver turns the wheel or activates the turn signal. The system also goes into standby mode if the accelerator is pressed. Cruise control and lane assist are canceled if the brakes are applied.

Being unfamiliar with the operation of ProPilot, I was startled when I accidentally engaged the system and steering assist took over. Studying the manual section on ProPilot is recommended.

Nine exterior colors are available, including the two new ones. The others are Brilliant Silver, Gun Metallic, Magnetic Black, Pearl White ($395), Glacier White and Monarch Orange ($395). Interior colors include charcoal and almond, along with the special Premium Tan.

The Motion-Activated Liftgate, operated by kicking a foot under a sensor below the rear bumper, was easy to open and close, making access to the cargo area comfortable even with hands full of grocery bags. Wide-opening rear doors made entry and exit easy even for rear passengers.

Front bucket seats were of Nissan’s special Zero Gravity design, for extra comfort on long road trips. A Quick Comfort system warmed the seats immediately. LATCH anchors were available for child seats, although I didn’t have an opportunity to try them.

Second-row seats slid fore and aft nine inches for more cargo or leg room, and folding the 40/20/40 seatbacks flat opened up 70 cubic feet of cargo space.

With Nissan’s innovative EZ Flex Seating System, every seat except the driver’s folds down – the front passenger seat folds rearward – to allow transportation of long items such as an eight-foot ladder.

Behind the seat, 39.3 cubic feet of cargo space was still impressive. The rear floor lifted up to reveal extra storage for wet items such as muddy soccer cleats. A Divide-N-Hide cargo management system offers several configurations using the rear floor panels and side notches.

My Rogue had SiriusXM satellite radio, two USB ports (the one in the back of the center console box was difficult to access), AM/FM/CD audio with auxiliary jack, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming, hands-free text messaging, Bose audio with HD radio and nine speakers, a handy (due to limited rear visibility) Around-View monitor/rear view camera, and dual-zone climate control with rear air vents.

NissanConnect with Navigation and Services was standard on my Rogue SL. Navigation features door-to-door directions, 3-D building graphics and satellite imagery. Controls were logically placed and easy to use, although the multi-touch screen (with lots of folders) was slightly beyond my arm reach.

Services include Automatic Collision Notification, Emergency Call (SOS), Roadside Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Locator, Journey Planner (destination and up to five waypoints), Boundary Alert/Speed Alert, Alarm Notification, and more.

Standard Rogue Safety Shield technology included Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Among the thriftiest compact crossovers, the Rogue AWD models are rated at 25 mpg city/32 highway/27 combined. My average was 25.8 mpg, with mostly highway driving. An Eco mode button by the left foot dulled the throttle, but I’m not sure it made a lot of difference.

Driving was easy and confident, with good out-of-the-gate response, although acceleration was slower after that with a slight delay between pressing the pedal and feeling the acceleration.

Ride quality was good, although the larger wheels made it a bit firmer. I noticed that the brakes, although quite effective, took a long stroke.

All-wheel drive makes Rogue a good all-season hauler, and 8.4-inches of ground clearance would allow mild off-roading. Rogue can tow up to 1,000 pounds, not a lot for this segment.

My Rogue also had a Premium Package with a power panoramic moon roof and LED headlights for $1,820, and floor mats, cargo-area protector, and first-aid kit for $275.

With options and the $975 destination charge, my Rogue SL delivered for $36,640.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com.