One major flaw holds the Nissan Rogue back.
In 2023, the Nissan Rogue trailed behind only the Toyota RAV4, Tesla Model Y, and Honda CR-V in SUV sales. In the United States, it's Nissan's best-selling individual model by a huge margin, having established itself in this market over three generations.
The first Rogue arrived in 2007 as a 2008 model, followed by the second-gen in 2013 and the current, third-gen model in 2020. While it's been a big seller, not every Rogue is a top recommendation, so if you're in the market for a new or used version of Nissan's SUV, we'll try to highlight the Nissan Rogue model years to avoid here.
To get the most balanced perception of a certain vehicle's dependability, we must look at both the number of recalls and complaints. Some recalls are truly bizarre and have nothing to do with a vehicle's reliability, such as when Honda recalled the Odyssey for the incorrect placement of its tailgate badge. Often, though, a high number of recalls can indicate a problematic vehicle. Looked at another way, one critical recall can have greater consequences than eight minor ones.
Complaints can also be used to separate good cars from bad ones. However, many of these are not serious enough to warrant a recall, but that doesn't mean they won't leave you with a car that leaves you pulling your hair out.
The 2013 Nissan Rogue is a good example of why both aspects must be considered. This model year of the Rogue has only one recall on record, among the fewest of any Rogue, yet it's amassed 566 complaints, more than any other Rogue.
Unfortunately, you can make a case for avoiding every Nissan Rogue model year, as all are equipped with a CVT transmission that has proven problematic across the three generations of the SUV. However, these are the model years with the most overall complaints.
It's surprising that the 2013 Rogue racked up more complaints than any other model year. This was the last year that the first-gen was on sale, so one would assume Nissan had ironed out all the kinks, but it wasn't to be.
Both Car Complaints and the NHTSA list this as the model year with the most complaints overall. Car Complaints suggests most of these issues are related to the transmission, the unloved CVT that results in plenty of engine drone.
The NHTSA categorizes most of the complaints as being related to the powertrain, specifically the CVT. Many customers were alarmed at an issue with the CVT, which caused a sudden loss of acceleration. Often, this happened in the middle of intersections or on a highway on-ramp, and some even claim to have been involved in an accident because of it. One customer got slapped with a $6,000 bill to fix the CVT since that Rogue was out of warranty.
Continued CVT issues led to a class-action lawsuit, with Nissan extending the warranty on 2014 to 2018 Rogues (and the 2015 Rogue Select) as announced in June 2022. The original 60-month/60,000-mile warranty was extended to 84 months/84,000 miles. The 2013 Rogue wasn't included, likely because it was a different generation, but the fact that it wasn't is all the more reason to steer clear of this model.
The 2013 Rogue also has one recall for an electrical short due to water seepage, which affected a substantial number of Rogues - 468,815, to be exact.
554 complaints are listed by the NHTSA for the 2018 Rogue, just behind the 566 of the 2013 model, and they affect the second-gen model. Since it was included in the warranty extension for the CVT, that's the first red flag. The same loss of power occurred in several 2018 Rogues.
However, it's issues with the forward collision avoidance system that were most prevalent for the 2018 Rogue. In November 2023, one owner reported that their Rogue was "braking on its own" and that the issue returned after Nissan supposedly fixed it. The owner, residing in Georgia, said the issue "keeps recurring and I am scared I will get rear-ended one day."
Looking at the three recalls for the Rogue this model year and the issues already covered, a common theme tends to be the SUV's sudden desire to stop or not accelerate, even if the source of the issue is different. Over 700,000 Rogues, including the 2018 model, were recalled for a faulty ignition key that could inadvertently shut off the engine while driving.
Other recalls were an engine harness damage that could lead to a stall and no image for the backup camera.
482 complaints places the 2017 Rogue near the top of this list, with the main components affected being the service brakes, forward collision system, and engine. Surprise, surprise, the CVT was an issue here, too, as was the dangerous activation of the brakes when there was no hazard; this model year is at the center of an open NHTSA investigation for false automatic emergency braking. Under the engine category, many of the same issues with a loss of power were documented.
The 2017 Rogue's five recalls included the ignition key and engine harness issues shared with the 2018 model as well as a corroded harness connector that can start a fire, insufficient seat frame welds, and a passenger airbag that may not deploy.
Both of these Rogue model years garnered 468 complaints each. They're also two of the most recalled model years, with nine recalls for the 2015 model and seven for the 2016.
For the 2016 model, the CVT gremlins and associated hesitation to accelerate continued. The seven recalls included almost all those that affected the 2017 model, including the ignition key/vehicle shut-off issue that affected over 700,000 Rogues.
Another passenger airbag recall was huge, with over three million Nissan and Infiniti models affected, while over 100,000 Rogues were recalled for a rear liftgate that may fail because of corrosion.
Sold only for the 2014 and 2015 model years, the Nissan Rogue Select was essentially a rebadged version of the first-gen Rogue but with a reduced feature count to keep the price low. Unsurprisingly, the Rogue Select inherited many of the first-gen Rogue's issues, including the troublesome CVT transmission.
Recalls included airbag issues, an electrical short from water seepage, and a scary one where the right side wheels could loosen due to an improperly tightened lug nut. Fortunately, the latter affected only a few Rogue Selects.
The 2015 Rogue Select was affected by most of the same issues. One couple had to spend $6,619 replacing their CVT with the car on 87,734 miles, and expressed surprise that the car didn't warn them of anything being wrong before the CVT completely failed.
Like the Rogue Select, the Rogue Sport was positioned below the Rogue as a more value-conscious offering in Nisan's SUV range. It was based on the Qashqai sold in other markets, and offered sophisticated styling in its segment, if not class-leading driving dynamics.
Although the Rogue Sport has fewer overall complaints and recalls on record than the normal Rogue, it suffered from the same complaints related to the CVT. As highlighted below under open investigations, certain Rogue Sports also exhibited the unnecessary activation of the automatic emergency braking system when it was not needed, an action that led to some collisions.
Now out of production, the 2021 Rogue Sport was recalled the most, but only three times. Issues included an ignition key that could shut off the vehicle, a seat belt locking retractor malfunction, and liftgate hinges that can separate.
On December 13, 2023, the NHTSA opened an investigation into a total loss of motive power because of engine failure. The issue concerns the 1.5-liter three-cylinder KR15DDT engine equipped to 2021-2023 Rogues. The investigation is in response to claims of "engine failure, loss of motive power, engine knock or noise and/or metal chunks and shavings found in the oil pan."
The 1.5-liter engine uses a unique variable compression ratio to achieve good fuel efficiency and decent power simultaneously. The Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) says Nissan is attempting to resolve main bearing and L-link damage/seizures on this engine with new manufacturing process updates.
This, together with complaints that Rogues as new as the 2023 model year are still exhibiting CVT issues, suggests that even the third-gen model isn't a completely safe purchase.
Opened in 2019, the NHTSA is investigating reports of 2017-2018 Rogue Sports executing an emergency braking maneuver despite there being no obstruction in the SUVs' path. We covered this as being a major issue for the 2017 Rogue, too. The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) initially stated that "Nissan's actions do not represent an adequate long-term solution to the problem, as the action is only available during the basic coverage period of the warranty."
Nissan reported 750 unique complaints of Rogues initiating an unnecessary emergency stop, and 12 led to a collision.
So, which Nissan Rogue would we recommend in light of the issues highlighted above? The one without the CVT, of course. Unfortunately, no such Rogue exists, as every single version sold in the USA has the CVT. With a manual gearbox or a conventional automatic - and the older 2.5-liter engine - the Rogue would likely have been a much more trouble-free vehicle.
The transmission is such an essential part of the powertrain that it becomes difficult to recommend a vehicle if problems with this component are so widespread. Worse still is that Nissan hasn't seemed to have made significant headway in resolving the problem, with complaints emerging for the third-gen model, too. Nalley Nissan of Cumming suggests replacing the CVT in a Rogue can cost $3,500 or more, but this seems to be a conservative number, as Kelley Blue Book data shows costs can exceed $5k, as reported by some owners on the NHTSA.
Other than the transmission, the Rogue is a solid vehicle that can be repaired fairly inexpensively. If you buy one, our best recommendation is to keep the transmission fluid fresh.