Year over year, in good times and bad, Nissan can count on the Rogue SUV sitting atop the company's sales charts.
Nissan has been swimming in rough seas since 2019, racking up year-over-year sales declines that are startling to say the least, but the Rogue has persevered. It is still Nissan’s bestselling nameplate, logging just over 20,000 units sold in Canada in 2022, a 32 percent decline versus 2021, but still about 7,000 clear of the second-place Kicks
It’s still early, but the Rogue has fared better in 2023, with first-quarter sales (through March 31) of 5,918 which marks a 27 percent increase over the same period last year.
The third generation (T33) Rogue debuted three years ago and went on sale as a 2021 model in late 2020. It’s built in Smyrna, Tennessee on the Renault-Nissan Alliance CMF-CD platform shared with several vehicles including the Mitsubishi Outlander.
For the 2022 model year, Nissan Canada introduced a variable-compression 1.5-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine (201 hp / 225 lb-ft.) for all grades except the base model, which is still powered by a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated 4-cylinder (181 hp / 181 lb-ft.). Both engines come standard with Nissan’s Xtronic CVT and all-wheel drive. Currently, there are no electrified Rogue models available.
Five trims are offered in Canada: S, SV, Midnight Edition, SL, and Platinum which range in price from $35,998 to $46,498, including freight.
For this review, Nissan Canada loaned me a range-topping Platinum tester finished in two-tone Champagne Silver ($630 paint charge) with a Graphite Semi-Aniline leather interior. Key standard features include LED headlights, taillights, and daytime running lights, 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels, 12.3-inch digital dashboard, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated front, and rear outboard seats and more.
The Rogue has a square-ish, vaguely robotic appearance, with a boxy, upright profile. In most respects, it looks nothing like the car it replaced. Sure, the V-motion grille remains, but thin wedge LED daytime runners and separate LED headlights are nothing like the array found on the second gen Rogue.
Nope, this Rogue feels much more high-tech. Its crisp lines give the car a chiselled and sleek appearance, that belie its SUV proportions. The Rogue is big for its class but doesn’t look bulky. The floating black roof, black mirror caps and large 19-inch alloy wheels are assets in that regard.
On the inside, the Rogue sports a clean and modern cabin layout that leaves everything where one might expect to find it, and with trim finishes that are commensurate with a $45K-plus vehicle. Its touch points are varied and pleasing to interact with, its dashboard has a pleasing bend to it with detail stitching in the upper pad, and the console is free of clutter.
As for the tech offering, the 9-inch multimedia display’s graphics are old and grainy, but its user interface is straightforward, due mainly to the presence of shortcut keys, and large volume and tune knobs. The piano black climate keys and knobs located below the screen are also delightfully easy to use, while the presence of USB-A and USB-C connectors in the centre console is another thoughtful touch.
The standout here, though, is the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster display, which offers a high degree of screen configurations, liquid-smooth animations, and reams of information that is logically arranged. It’s not the most dazzling I’ve encountered, but it nicely balances content and presentation.
As for utility, the Rogue is a five-seater, with 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks with centre cup holder armrest, two USB charge ports (A and C), and temperature switch.
The Rogue’s roofline is tall and almost flat so rear seat head space is generous, while knee, hip and shoulder space are also quite good. Overall cargo volume is rated at 1,072 litres when rear seat backs are up, and 2,064 litres when they’re folded down. Maximum towing is strictly for bikes and small trailers, however, as it’s rated at just 1,500 pounds (680 kg).
Sliding behind the wheel, I am impressed with the Rogue’s seating position, for both comfort and adjustability, and outward visibility is good in all directions due to the car’s large greenhouse. Exterior styling can intrude on visibility with sloping rooflines and tiny rear windows, but that’s not the case here.
As for the drive, it proved to be quite comfortable, both in town and on the highway. I logged more highway mileage than usual due to a family gathering that required a trip from Oshawa to Collingwood and back, and the Rogue Platinum proved to be a pleasant cruiser.
Despite its small size, the 1.5L three-cylinder turbo was to be quite zippy. Peak torque (225 lb-ft.), which is class-leading among gas engines, begins at just 2,800 rpm, which gets the Rogue up to speed quickly, regardless of drive mode. The engine’s variable compression ratio (8.0-14.0), adjusting on the fly to deliver greater performance or efficiency, is also a key factor. Low compression is better for performance, and high is good for efficiency. As for my experience, I averaged 7.3 L / 100 km during my week of driving.
Elsewhere, Nissan’s Xtronic CVT and Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system worked well in concert with the three-banger. I’m generally not a fan of CVTs, but this one is mostly fine. It can feel artificial at times, when it lets the engine spin seemingly without end under hard acceleration, but it’s generally liveable. Modulating it with the throttle and drive mode selector is hit and miss, but one can adjust to it over time.
The AWD system is of the on-demand variety, which means it can send torque to the rear wheels in slippery conditions, but the Rogue is front-wheel drive in most driving situations. During my drive, which was mostly in dry conditions, it performed imperceptibly.
The turbo engine can be a bit noisy under load, but on long highway drives like my family visit, the cabin was well hushed. On the handling front, the Rogue feels quite planted for a vehicle not built for pinpoint maneuverability. For a SUV in normal driving conditions, which is all I experienced, it was good with responsive steering and good body control.
Overall, the Rogue is an impressive option in the hyper-competitive compact SUV segment. It packs a good deal of performance, content, capability, and safety into a reasonably priced package. The lack of an electrified option will undoubtedly turn some off, but the three-cylinder turbo’s combination of performance and efficiency is a standout in the segment.
2023 Nissan Rogue Platinum AWD
Front-engine, all-wheel drive, CVT
1.5-litre turbocharged 3-cylinder (201 hp / 225 lb-ft.)
(Regular 87) 8.4 / 6.7 / 7.6 L / 100 km (city / highway / combined)
2,064 / 1,072 litres (72.9 / 36.3 cu ft.) (behind first / second row)
MAXIMUM TOWING: 1,500 pounds (680 kg)
$43,748 / $46,298 base /as tested, incl. freight, excl. taxes and fees