G. Chambers Williams

Nissan’s popular Rogue compact crossover gets upgrades and a hybrid model for 2017

Nissan has unveiled a major update to the 2017 Rogue compact SUV, which includes its first-ever hybrid version, which goes on sale late this year.
Nissan has unveiled a major update to the 2017 Rogue compact SUV, which includes its first-ever hybrid version, which goes on sale late this year.

After breaking out of the pack and posting sales records with an all-new Rogue that arrived just three years ago, Nissan has brought a long list of upgrades and tweaks to its popular compact crossover for 2017.

There’s a surprise as well: a Rogue hybrid version is coming this year.

For now, the updated 2017 Rogue gasoline model is now on sale, starting at $23,820 (plus $940 freight) for the base S front-wheel-drive model.

Gasoline-only models range as high as $31,310 for the SL all-wheel-drive version, which we tested for this report. Prices for the new hybrid, which arrives late this year, have not been announced yet.

The other gasoline trim levels are the SV FWD, $25,240; SL FWD, $29,960; S AWD, $25,170; and the SV AWD, $26,590.

Seating is available for up to seven in base and midlevel gasoline-only models, with an optional two-person third-row seat.

But the third row is offered only on the S and SV gas models; it’s not available on the top model, the SL, because that would put it into price competition with the midsize Pathfinder, which comes standard with three rows. And the battery pack for the hybrid model won’t allow for a third row in that version.

Otherwise, there is seating for up to five people, and there is plenty of leg and knee room for middle-seat passengers.

The gasoline-electric hybrid will be offered in just two trim levels, SV and SL, and will come standard with front-wheel drive. But all-wheel drive will be available.

All of the gasoline-only models come with a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine, with 175 foot-pounds of torque. It’s connected to the newest generation of the Rogue’s continuously variable automatic transmission.

The hybrid models will get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, rated at 141 horsepower and 144 foot-pounds of torque, paired with a 40-horsepower electric motor and a special continuously variable automatic transmission. While the vehicle is running in electric mode, the hybrid drive system will get power from a lithium-ion battery pack behind the second row of seating.

Total output for the hybrid system will be 176 horsepower. The hybrid also includes an Idle Start/Stop system and an Intelligent Regenerative Braking system.

EPA ratings for the hybrid are expected to be 33 mpg city/35 highway/34 combined for the front-drive model, and 31/34/33 for all-wheel-drive versions. That compares with 26/33/29 for the gasoline-only 2017 Rogue front-drive model, and 25/32/28 for the all-wheel-drive version.

Among Nissan crossovers, the compact Rogue is below the midsize five-passenger Murano, which got its own redesign for 2015, and the full-size, seven-passenger Pathfinder, which was all new three years ago, but also gets some 2017 updates.

Rogue exterior changes for 2017 include a revised front end with design cues that match other newer models in the Nissan lineup. The new front fascia has integrated fog lights; the bumper includes Nissan’s signature "V-Motion" grille; and there are new headlights with LED daytime running lights.

There’s also a new rear bumper design, along with boomerang-shaped LED taillights. There are new chrome side door moldings, as well as 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, included only on SL models.

Also new for 2017 is the Motion-Activated Liftgate, similar to ones found on competing vehicles such as the Ford Escape, along with Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, and Intelligent Cruise Control, which paces the car to the vehicle it is following.

The Motion-Activated Liftgate is standard on the SL, so it was included on our test vehicle, and it came in handy when I was trying to load some cargo with my hands full. It has a kick-sensor system to provide hands-free operation of the power tailgate – opening and closing.

Besides the SL, this feature will be offered on SV models as part of the SV Premium Package.

Other features of the 2017 Rogue include body-color heated outside mirrors with available integrated turn signals, a rear spoiler, privacy glass and roof rails – all included on my SL model.

There is also a power-operated panoramic moon roof, with a front glass panel that slides and tilts, which is standard on the SL. The rear glass panel does not open, so when the front panel opens, it slides under the second glass panel.

Nine exterior colors are offered: Midnight Jade, Brilliant Silver, Gun Metallic, Magnetic Black, Pearl White, Glacier White and new Monarch Orange, Caspian Blue and Palatial Ruby.

Three interior colors are available — charcoal, almond, and the special Premium Tan, which comes only with the Platinum Reserve Interior Package.

Our tester came with the silver exterior and the charcoal interior, with leather upholstery – another standard feature on the SL.

Among interior upgrades are a new D-shaped steering wheel (heated on our tester); leather-booted sport-mode shifter for the CVT; available memory for the driver's seat and mirror (also included on SL); and remote engine start.

There is also new door and instrument panel trim, a new shift knob design, a revised center console box and lid, and new seat fabric on non-leather models.

Lots of interior storage is provided. There are six front storage areas, five within reach of the driver, two front cupholders and two front bottle holders.

There’s plenty of room for two smartphones on a shelf at the front of the center console, which also includes the two cupholders in a row, front to back.

In front of the cupholders in the flat cubby for phones are a USB port and a 12-volt power outlet. Behind the cupholders is another small cubby that also can hold a phone in a vertical position. And behind that is the storage box with lid.

A new Platinum Reserve Interior Package for the SL model includes premium tan leather seats with quilted inserts, but it was not included on our vehicle.

The EZ Flex Seating System allows every seat except the driver's to fold down easily to increase cargo space. With the front passenger seat and the rear seats folded, the Rogue can carry long items such as an eight-foot ladder. The middle seat has a 40/20/40 split for a combination of cargo and passenger configurations.

The optional Divide-N-Hide cargo system (not available on three-row models or the hybrid) has 18 adjustable variations between the cargo and passenger compartments.

The front seats use Nissan’s Zero Gravity design, which provides continuous support from the pelvis to the chest to help reduce fatigue. This was a boon to my aching back on a long weekend road trip in the Rogue SL.

There is a six-way adjustable driver's seat, with power adjustment including lumbar support included on the SL. The front passenger seat is four-way manually adjustable.

Quick Comfort heated front seats, included on our SL, begin warming body parts most sensitive to heat immediately, including thighs and hips.

Other standard features include satellite radio; a five-inch driver-assist color display; four-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with auxiliary audio input jack and USB port; Bluetooth hands-free phone system; a rearview camera system; streaming Bluetooth audio; and the hands-free text-messaging assistant (compatible smartphone required).

Our SL had such extras as dual-zone automatic climate control and a premium Bose audio system with nine speakers. Remote Engine Start was included, allowing the car to be started using the keyless entry fob.

SL tech features included NissanConnect with Navigation and apps, Nissan’s Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection; Blind Spot Warning; Lane Departure Warning; and Forward Collision Warning.

We also had keyless entry and pushbutton start; electro-luminescent gauges; power door locks with automatic locking; power windows with one-touch up/down for the driver; and micro filter for the heating/air conditioning system, with adjustable second-row vents.

The Rogue comes with four-wheel independent suspension, electronic stability control with traction control, and Hill Start Assist.

Our SL’s optional all-wheel drive system came with Hill Descent Control. While not intended for serious off-road use, as it does not have low-range gearing, the four-wheel drive system was good enough to move us easily through some sand on the beach. Ground clearance is just eight inches, though, so truly deep sand, dirt/mud, water and tall rocks would present problems for the Rogue.

Safety features include front seat-mounted side air bags; roof-mounted side-curtain air bags with rollover sensors front and rear; and the LATCH system for child-safety seats. Child-safe rear door locks are included, along with an anti-theft alarm and tire-pressure monitoring with Nissan’s Easy Fill Tire Alert system.

The CVT has a new Eco mode to help drivers improve their fuel economy. It's designed to change acceleration pedal feel, and it includes an icon on the dash to show that the vehicle is in Eco mode.

With the 2.5-liter engine, we had plenty of power for our everyday driving and even some weekend drives through some state and national parks with decently maintained dirt roads.

The transmission shifted smoothly with a minimum of engine run-up that’s often noticeable with such transmissions. It seems more like a conventional transmission with defined shift points.

Even at highway speeds, the Rogue’s cabin is very quiet, an improvement over the previous generation. The electric power steering was tight and responsive, and with the four-wheel antilock disc brakes, braking was safe and confident.

The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at chambers@star-telegram.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.

2017 Nissan Rogue (gasoline)

The package: Five-door, five- or seven-passenger, front- or all-wheel-drive, four-cylinder, compact crossover utility vehicle.

Advantages: Nissan’s compact crossover, which was completely redesigned for 2014 with new exterior and interior styling, gets a lot of tweaks and upgrades for 2017, along with the coming introduction of the first gasoline-hybrid version.

Negatives: Optional third-row seat is not available in the top (SL) model; no engine upgrade offered for those who want more power.

Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder.

Transmission: Continuously variable automatic.

Power/torque: 170 HP./175 foot-pounds

Length: 182.3 inches.

Curb weight: 3,393-3,545 pounds.

Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.

Side air bags: Front seat-mounted; side-curtain for all rows.

Electronic stability control: Standard.

Cargo volume: 9.4 cubic feet (behind third row); 32 cubic feet (behind second row).

Towing capacity: 1,000 pounds.

Fuel capacity/type: 14.5 gallons/unleaded regular.

EPA fuel economy: 26 mpg city/33 highway/29 combined (front-wheel drive); 25/32/28 (all-wheel drive).

Major competitors: Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Mitsubishi Outlander, Subaru Outback, Jeep Cherokee, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5.

Base price range: $23,820-$31,310, plus $940 freight.

Price as tested: $32,250, including freight (2017 SL all-wheel drive, 5-passenger).

On the Road rating: 9.2 (of a possible 10).

Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.