by Gabe Beita Kiser
The Nissan Rogue is an affordable and efficient crossover SUV in its second generation, offering a comfortable cabin and good fuel economy - and the hybrid variant further increases its cost-effectiveness. The combination of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor delivers a combined 176 horsepower to the front wheels by default, with optional all-wheel-drive available. However, the standard powertrain is unrefined in comparison to rivals like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, a key hybrid rival in the segment at a price point that competes with the Rogue's $27,700 MSRP. Even though it offers only mediocre cargo space for the segment, Nissan's hybrid SUV is still a great daily driver. The upmarket cabin, ample tech features, and comfortable ride don't hurt its appeal either; but, don't let this distract you from the Rogue Hybrid's failings.
Having received a facelift in 2017, the Nissan Rogue Hybrid enters 2019 almost completely unchanged, offering the same performance as previous years. However, automatic halogen headlights, a rear parking sensor, pedestrian detection, and intelligent lane-keeping assist have been added as standard features. The SL also gets standard ProPilot Assist, which was previously optional.
The Rogue Hybrid last received a facelift in 2017, so its exterior has undergone no changes for the 2019 iteration. The design is nowhere near as daring as its name suggests, with a boxy body that doesn't bother much with curves and angles. The Nissan V-motion grille is familiar, but the standard halogen headlights bordering it lack any accentuation, while the 17-inch alloy wheels sit within nondescript arches. LED daytime running lights are standard features.
Sporting slightly larger dimensions than most of its competition, the Nissan Rogue measures 184.5 inches in length, is 67.8 inches tall, and 72.4 inches wide. The wheelbase is more on par with rivals at 106.5 inches. The front-wheel-drive models range from 3,666 lbs to 3,683 lbs, while the all-wheel-drive variants weigh in between 3,787 lbs and 3,798 lbs. This makes it slightly lighter than many of its core competitors.
Under the Nissan Rogue Hybrid's hood rests a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 141 hp and 144 lb-ft of torque. This works in combination with a 30 kW electric motor to deliver a combined 176 hp to the front wheels, while an Xtronic CVT automatic gearbox handles transmission duties for you.
This powertrain setup sounds strong enough to move this compact crossover, but there is quite a bit of disagreement between the two power sources. The electric motor supplies enough torque to set the Rogue in motion, but the combustion engine takes it's time to step in, giving the SUV a poor 0 to 60 mph time of 9.3 seconds. This lack of responsiveness to throttle inputs is especially aggravating on the highway, where passing can require far too much pedal stomping.
The Rogue Hybrid is by no means an athletic SUV – its sloth-like acceleration should prove as much. Further proof can be found in its argumentative handling. The steering refuses to provide the driver with any idea what the wheels are doing, making parking a bit tricky without using the driver assistance features. With over-sensitive steering, steering adjustments at higher speeds yield violent changes of direction, making it tiresome to drive long distances on the highway.
The brakes are as uninspiring as the steering, providing little feedback to inputs - meaning you can't tell how hard you're braking until the friction braking leaps into action, jerking you forward to the point of mild whiplash. The brakes are, at least, quite effective, stopping the large crossover in 125 ft from 60 mph. The Rogue's saving grace is its plush seating. Combined with a relatively absorbent suspension, the seats provide ample comfort over even extended trips. Through any set of corners, the body-roll is well controlled by the suspension, too.
The Rogue Hybrid delivers fuel economy that is competitive, but far from class-leading. The front-wheel-drive model has a city/highway/combined EPA estimates of 33/35/34 mpg, while the all-wheel-drive variant delivers slightly worse performance at 31/34/33 mpg. With a 14.5-gallon tank at its disposal, the base Rogue Hybrid can manage 493 miles before refueling. Rivals like the Toyota RAV4 and Kia Niro can get 60 to 100 extra miles to a tank.
Capable of seating five, the Hybrid SUV boasts a roomy interior with quality materials. The seats are comfortable, even with the basic cloth upholstery, and offer even greater comfort with the SL's leather seats. The front seats provide 41.6 inches of headroom and 43 inches of legroom, which is more than enough for even tall adults. Headroom for rear passengers is also generous, with 39.7 inches available, while legroom is slightly more restrictive at 37.9 inches. Installing a moonroof slightly decreases the headroom. Heated front seats are a standard feature, as is the eight-way power driver's seat with lumbar support.
Trunk space in the Rogue is around average for the segment, meaning that it bests some rivals like the Kia Niro, but can't compete with others like the Toyota RAV4. With the rear seats up, the Rogue Hybrid provides 27.3 cubic feet, down from 39.3 in the non-hybrid version. For daily use, the Rogue provides more than enough space, fitting the kids' sports bags, dad's golf clubs, and mom's yoga mats with room to spare for a few shopping bags. But if more space is needed. The rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split, increasing cargo space to 61.4 cubic feet, 8.6 fewer than the standard Rogue.
Inside the cabin, cupholders and door pockets abound, with plenty of space for water bottles and small items. The glove compartment and armrest console adequately supply space for larger items.
The Rogue Hybrid SV comes standard with a myriad of features. Including dual-zone climate control, rear privacy glass, cruise control, an advanced driver-assist display, rear-door alert, keyless entry and ignition, and remote engine start with intelligent climate control. Additionally, an eight-way power driver's seat with power lumbar adjustments, heated front seats, 60/40 split fold-down rear seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter are included as standard. Basic safety features aren't lacking, and include automatic emergency braking with forward collision alert, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, intelligent lane intervention, rear sonar, and a rearview camera. This offering is enhanced on the SL with the inclusion of adaptive cruise control, a driver's seat memory function, a heated steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a surround-view camera.
The infotainment suite on the Rogue is extensive, but it is neither super modern nor particularly user-friendly. Standard features include a seven-inch NissanConnect touchscreen display, a six-speaker sound system with AM/FM/CD playback, SiriusXM, Bluetooth calling and audio streaming, two USB ports, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Added with the upgrade to the SL trim are Nissan door-to-door navigation, and SiriusXM Traffic. A Bose premium audio sound system is available with the SL Premium Package.
J.D. Power awarded the Nissan Rogue Hybrid a dependability rating of 78 out of 100 in 2018. With no mechanical changes made to the 2019 model, this rating is likely to carry through to the new year. Since the Rogue's facelift in 2017, the SUV has not been subject to any recalls. Nissan offers the Rogue Hybrid with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, and eight-year/100,000-mile component coverage.
The Nissan Rogue is rated at four stars out of five for safety by the NHTSA, quite average by all measures. The IIHS has tested the Rogue as well and awarded it with an overall rating of Good, with only headlights receiving a lower grade of Acceptable. A total of six airbags protect occupants in the event of a crash while preventing the crash are standard assists like blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
When placed alongside rival hybrid SUVs like the Toyota RAV4 or Kia Niro, it would be a stretch to call the Nissan Rogue Hybrid a good car. At best, it's adequate. It has a low price tag, which immediately makes it appealing for buyers seeking a bargain. Furthermore, it offers impressive fuel economy and ample cargo capacity. But, when you start to look below the surface, you will see that the Rogue is not so much a diamond in the rough as just another polished stone.
The SUV's powertrain is underwhelming and, when coupled with unengaging steering and mediocre handling characteristics, the best you can hope for is a ride that's unobjectionable. The interior is lined with quality materials and has style to spare, but this shouldn't distract you from the fact that the Rogue's features, while numerous, are outdated and not all that user-friendly. Similarly, the cargo space is impressive, especially if you fold down the rear seats - but since SUVs are primarily family vehicles, how often with the rear seats be unoccupied? If you really need space, there are hybrid SUVs out there with a lot more standard trunk volume.
The largely lackluster Nissan Rogue is saved by seats that are honestly among the most comfortable on the market, as well as ride quality that, while not class-leading, is really pleasant. Needless to say, this isn't quite enough to make recommending the Rogue even slightly plausible when there are so many better options available at similar, or even cheaper, prices.
For a hybrid SUV, the Rogue is reasonably priced, with the SV tagged at just $27,700. If you opt for the all-wheel-drive variant, you will need to put aside an extra $1,350. The Rogue SL has a slightly elevated asking price of $31,640 due to its higher-grade interior and additional features. Upgrading to all-wheel-drive costs the same as for the SV, meaning a fully loaded SL will cost you $32,990, which is less than most competitors. These prices are exclusive of tax, registration, licensing, and Nissan's $1,045 destination fee.
Unless luxury and comfort are primary concerns, the Rogue SV is all you need. It comes equipped with all the advanced safety and driver-assist features the range has to offer and is powered by the same combo four-cylinder/electric motor engine as the SL. With equal performance and handling characteristics on both models, all you miss out on with the SV is the more upscale interior, upgraded headlights, and additional fog lights. If you don't mind spending an extra $4k, then the SL is an option, but since the Rogue is primarily a thrifty spender's choice, the SV makes more sense.
The newly redesigned Toyota RAV4 enters the 2019 market at a sprint. With standard all-wheel-drive and a 219 hp powertrain, it offers a lot more power than the Rogue. This is only truly impressive when you consider that the Toyota provides significantly better handling than its rival as well and comparable gas mileage. The RAV4 is far more composed on the road, with steering that responds well to inputs, even if it doesn't provide much feedback. Supplying greater cargo capacity, better fuel efficiency, and a much more enjoyable driving experience, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid easily bests the Nissan Rogue Hybrid, and it is priced at only $150 more, making it the obvious choice.
The lightweight Kia Niro is surprisingly spacious, given its sleeker dimensions compared to most rivals; it also looks far more athletic. This is largely because the so-called SUV is designed to look more like a standard hatchback. As such, it offers a ride that isn't as cumbersome as its true SUV rivals. The 139 hp engine doesn't sound that impressive, but when you consider the 195 lb-ft of torque, and the Kia's relatively low weight and small size, it's more than enough to move the Niro about, especially when you have the transmission set in Sport mode. While Kia's hybrid crossover comes with a lot of really nice standard features, it does lack in cargo space, supplying only 19.4 cubic feet. That's still plenty of room for daily errands around town. So if you want a car that offers SUV-adjacent utility, and absurdly good fuel efficiency thanks to its plug-in nature - without completely sacrificing drivability - the Kia Niro is leaps and bounds ahead of the Rogue.