Matthew Fitzsimmons

Gone Rogue

I love my Toyota Tacoma, but it's no secret that the Tacoma is not optimized for daily on-road driving. I want to keep the Tacoma because the bed, towing capacity, and off-road capability make it worth while. However, I do sometimes dream of being able to drive something a little more limber for normal daily driving.

A little over a month ago, I learned about a recall on my truck. I took it in to have it checked and learned my truck has the issue mentioned in the recall and parts are on back order. At the point of this writing, I've had a rental car for a month and expect to have it for several more weeks.

The rental is a 2017 Nissan Rogue SV. I kind of like this vehicle and decided I'd share my thoughts about the car.

Features

This is not a bare-bones vehicle. I don't know what a base-level Rogue has, but this has some features that I imagine are part of the SV trim level. This isn't a comprehensive list, but just some things off the top of my head.

  • Heated front seats
  • Dual front temperature zone controls
  • Automatic climate control
  • Keyless entry with push button start (the kind where you don't have to take your key out of your pocket to unlock the doors)
  • Remote start
  • Power driver's seat
  • Satelite radio
  • Bluetooth and USB (although this seems to be becoming standard)
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Backup camera and monitoring
  • Cruise control

The Drive

My truck has a lot of power, but because it's optimized for things like hauling, it doesn't have a lot of get-up-and-go unless I really push it. The Rogue isn't exactly a muscle car, but it's pretty capable in the acceleration department. Adina's Kia Soul+ used to feel zippy to me in comparison to my truck, but after driving the Rogue for awhile the Soul feels really sluggish. My truck will probably feel even worse when I first get it back.

The Rogue generally handles fairly well, although there are times when it has some minor issues:

  • In certain turning scenarios where you might also be accelerating, it feels like it's fighting you. This might be the stability control kicking in.
  • In very rare circumstances (which seem to be accelerating quickly in bumpy terrain), it feels unstable, like it's bouncing around way too much, and feels like the center of gravity is too high.

Because it has a Continuously Variable Transmission that basically fakes traditional shifting, the way it shifts and when it shifts feel a little weird sometimes. This is kind of hard to explain, but I notice it primarily when accelerating from 0-50, and when I'm almost up to speed it shifts as if I let off the accelerator and it thinks I'm at cruising speed. This doesn't really create much of an issue, though, because this fake shifting is very quick. Other drivers have said Sport mode makes it feel more like a traditional transmission, but it hasn't been a big problem for me the way it is.

It's certainly much easier to maneuver in a parking lot than my truck is.

Ride Height

A couple of cars ago, Adina switched from a Jetta to a Fiat 500. The primary reason for this is that the seating in the Fiat was more upright and higher off the ground. She's kept up this trend in the cars since, although the MINI Countryman wasn't quite as good in that regard.

The reason for this is that with this kind of seating, it's easy to just step into and out of the vehicle instead of having to climb out of it like with lower slung vehicles. This is a lot easier on Adina because of her back problems, but it turns out I also like not having to pull myself up out of the vehicle.

The crossover segment has this same advantage due to the slightly higher ride height compared to the midsize and fullsize sedan segments. As a result, the Rogue is very easy to get in and out of, and would be a suitable vehicle for someone with joint problems that make it difficult to get in and out of a sedan. This also provides for a less extreme height difference from my truck. When I drive a normal sedan these days, I feel like my butt is dragging on the ground.

Cargo Space

I've always had a soft spot for station wagons. My first car was a station wagon, and we had a few when I was growing up. I also had a Jetta SportWagen for awhile, which was nice. The increased utility vs a sedan is quite nice. Basically, a crossover is a station wagon with a higher ride height. I'm not sure how the Rogue compares to other vehicles in the class, but it has a good amount of space for the size of the vehicle.

Gas Mileage

My average since I got the car is 28 mpg, which is mostly city driving on short trips. That's about 8 mpg higher than my truck, so I'm saving some fuel.

It could probably be better, but since it accelerates fairly well I tend to accelerate pretty quickly. I haven't tried it in Eco or Sport mode to know how they affect gas mileage.

Summary

I like this vehicle because it drives well, it's comfortable, and it has a good amount of storage space. The push button lock/unlock and engine start is also something I've grown rather attached to that I'm going to miss when I get my truck back. This is definitely a feature I will be looking for in the future when it's time to replace my truck.

The Rogue has made me look at the crossover segment with fresh eyes. I'm not in the market for a vehicle anytime soon, but I'll be looking more closely at crossovers when the time comes, although I doubt I'd want to give up my truck for one. This would make a good replacement for Adina's Kia Soul, however. If Adina was in the market for a new car, she would consider the Rogue or other cars in this segment as an option. Her only complaint so far is that when she had to sit in the middle of the back seat, the seatbelt was very hard to use, since you are sitting on all three buckles. Maybe this is common in vehicles with smallish back seats, but there may be similar vehicles that are better in this regard.