The Force Is With You (And It Won’t Let You Down)
It’s no surprise that the Nissan Rogue will soon be the Japanese car maker’s number one model. It’s small and agile enough to be easy and fun in city traffic and on road trips; it has an interior accommodating enough for families but it’s not an overwhelming size for drivers who travel alone or with a pal most of the time. It offers a variety of trim levels that start at about $23,000 – the S, SV (both of which have a third row option), SL and SL Hybrid, with prices topping out at about $34,000. And Nissan is taking safety performance seriously by adding its Safety Shield suite of features as a standard package on most models.
But being popular wasn’t good enough. Nissan leaders wanted Rogue to be flat-out great. As a result, the 2017 update is sharper than ever inside and out, with a modern edge, sleeker lines, a sportier drive experience and for the first time, comes in a hybrid option.
Who the Rogue Hybrid is For
- Singles, couples or small families
- Drivers who want an SUV with high MPG and low environmental impact
- Drivers who like a smaller, agile SUV
- Buyers who need flexible cargo space and more cargo options
- Drivers who want or need an all wheel drive crossover
- Buyers who want to be the first to own the next hot thing
- Buyers who want top safety features
Nissan partners with [Star Wars] Rogue One for a one-of-a- kind adventure
Probably the biggest news in the car world lately was that Nissan partnered with Disney on the upcoming Rogue One: Star Wars movie. It makes perfect sense, after all; just take a look at this spot from Nissan and you can see how the Rebellion isn’t all that far off from dodging impalements on I-95 in South Florida.
As part of the celebration, Nissan is offering a (non-hybrid) exclusive Rogue One edition of the car and will have Rogue One-themed expriences at its dealerships. All the Star Wars excitement put us in the mood to listen to our Rogue playlist, which you can find here.
One car that fits all your rebellions
The thrill of the rebellion aside, the Rogue Hybrid is a good crossover option for people who are about to transition from singledom or couplehood into family life, especially if they are spending those last pre-parenthood weekends on the slopes, hiking trails or biking back-country byways. The Rogue Hybrid can accommodate your sports gear now and the baby gear later. It’s also a great transition car for those who are downsizing from the family SUV or minivan and still want the cargo space and flexibility those cars offered.
I recently spent a week in the Rogue Hybrid and was quite impressed by its recently updated and rethought interior as well as the hybrid performance.
Cutting to the chase: Rogue Hybrid’s MPG
I was very impressed with the 33MPG the Rogue Hybrid AWD got for part of our test drive—mostly highway driving—and the 28-29 MPG we averaged most of the week. Compare this to the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, which promises low 30’s, the Rogue is roughly the same size and offers slightly more interior space (about 4 cubic feel overall). Had I been driving the front wheel drive version, I’m sure my MPG would have been better.
Stealth yet stellar: Choose sport or eco for all the power you want (or don’t)
When I first got into the Rogue Hybrid I expected hybrid drive would be my only drive option— fuel efficient but perhaps sluggish. I was surprised to find three drive modes that, even in sport, delivered pretty nice fuel economy. We got about 28 MPG driving in normal mode, and upped our MPG to about 33 in eco. In eco, though, the Rogue felt like it was a little more on ‘island time,’ getting up to speed at a more leisurely—and fuel efficient—pace. This is fine on city streets and in the neighborhood, but I hit the sport button when merging onto the highway or in more challenging driving situations—and appreciated I could do that. It could become a habit, though; the sport mode added pep that made the Rogue more of a rebel than a pacifist.
Your in-car commander coaches you to be a more efficient driver
The Rouge’s driver feedback screens will help you be a more efficient driver, in eco, sport or normal mode. A blue and white gauge at the bottom of the tachometer shows you when you’re using and recouping battery power—when it’s in the blue range—and when you’re using the full power of the gas engine. Toggle through the driver information screens and you can get your current MPG and the range left on the tank—very helpful when the goal is to eek out a few more miles per gallon.
Other Hybrid benefits: lots of luxuries and interior space
There were a couple of other features of the hybrid Rogue that I really liked, too. First, the hybrid model comes in the SL trim, Rogue’s highest, so it’s fitted with all the top features, from heated leather seats and steering wheel to Nissan’s clever rear storage system to a lift gate that opens (and closes) with a kick of your foot under the bumper. It also has a Bose audio system, panoramic sun roof and a smart key with remote and push button start.
The Rogue Hybrid didn’t seem to lack for interior space, either. Sometimes hybrids have to take up passenger or cargo space to accommodate the oversized battery, but not the case here; the rear seats and cargo spaces were plenty roomy.
Rear seats that are moveable and can be pushed forward for more cargo room make more of the interior space, as does a storage bin beneath the cargo floor and a ‘divide and hide’ system that lets you create a shelf out of the cargo floor. I love how this creates extra space, especially for things like plants, packages or boxes that won’t roll around. However, I tried putting groceries in the under-floor storage bin (which is nicely outfitted with a hard plastic lining) and found that my milk had quite the adventure around every turn. If you put groceries here, be sure they are packed in so they don’t sweep back and forth during your drive.
Best of all: This silent hybrid has a pedestrian warning
This is a feature I love so much: A pedestrian warning when the car is in reverse. A hybrid can be super quiet; even on a perfectly silent day it can be nearly impossible to tell if the car is on or not. Nissan added a high-pitched, low-volume pedestrian warning that is emitted when the car is in reverse. Its subtle but loud enough that it can be heard without being so loud it will annoy you.
My friend Amy, who is blind, tested it out for me; she could hear the car (and coaxed her guide dog Woodstock to walk behind the car anyway!) and with the surround view rear camera, I could see her approaching the car before she was fully in view (I could hear the high pitch beeping when in reverse, too).
Playing the hybrid ‘is-it-on-or-not’ game
This might be the most comic learning curve in a hybrid: The car is so silent that you can walk away and leave the engine running without knowing it. Or, you can hit the start button but only turn on the accessory power; of course, the car isn’t on but how can you tell? Look for signs the car is ready to drive: Can you get it in gear? Is the EV light on? Is the blue power meter flowing? When getting to your destination it’s also common to leave the car running. The Rogue is equipped with an intelligent key that will make an audible alert outside of the vehicle if the key is removed while the engine is running (this feature is standard on SV and SL models with both conventional and hybrid engines).
However, be careful: I was able to put the car in neutral with only accessory power on and sitting on a hill, the car rolled forward a bit. Use of the parking brake is a great idea in a hybrid.
I’m a fan of hybrids. I love being in control of fuel usage, being more efficient and less wasteful. But I also love that ‘hybrid’ doesn’t mean a lack of power when you need it—even if your rebellion just a quick get-away from the in-laws after the holidays.
What We Loved
- Beautifully re-thought interior, including leather seats and trim, flexible cargo space and the panoramic sun roof
- 33MPG in eco mode
- Sport mode for when you need it
- All wheel drive
- A smaller size SUV with a roomy interior
- Re-tooled exterior
- Automatic ‘kick gate’ that opens and closes the lift gate
- Pedestrian sensors and warning
- Surround view rear view camera
- Driver feedback for optimal fuel efficiency
What you need to know
- Seating for five but more comfortable for four
- Third row not available in the hybrid model
- Hybrid only available in the SV model, or highest trim level
- One USB port and 3 12V power ports
- Regular fuel recommended
- Hybrid battery warranty 8 years/100,000 miles
- Priced expected to be about $35,000
Of course, maybe the best thing about the Nissan Rogue is time in it by yourself or with your besties, belting out tunes and seat-dancing. Here’s our Rogue playlist:
- Nicki Minaj – Starships
- Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity
- Katy Perry – Firework
- Gorillaz – Clint Eastwood
- Rihanna – We Found Love
- LaRoux – Bulletproof
- Demi Lovato – Confident
- Avicii – Wake Me Up
- Major Lazor – Lean On
- Florence + the Machine – Ship to Wreck
- Jessie J and Ariana Grande – Bang Bang
- Twenty One Pilots – Ride
- Daft Punk – Get Lucky
- Scissor Sisters – I Don’t Feel Like Dancing
- Michael Jackson – Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough
- Matt and Kim – Daylight
- Passion Pit – Take a Walk
- Rogue Wave – Lake Michigan
- Weird Al Yankovic – The Saga Begins
- Weird Al Yankovic – Yoda
Disclosure: Nissan loaned me the Rogue Hybrid for my review; opinions and playlist suggestions are all my own.