Car Reviews First Tests

2016 Nissan Rogue SL AWD First Test: Catching Up With an Old Friend

Checking in with a former MT Garage favorite

Checking in with a former MT Garage favorite

It’s always nice catching up with an old friend. I grew quite fond of my old long-term 2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD over its year with us and was quite sad to see the versatile, comfortable crossover go. After two years apart, I thought it was about time to get reacquainted with an old favorite and to see what’s changed with the 2016 Nissan Rogue SL AWD.

In two words: not much. Now two years into its model cycle, the 2016 Rogue is still powered by a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter I-4 producing 170 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. The power remains routed through a CVT to a front-biased all-wheel-drive system. Like déjà vu, our Rogue SL tester showed up to our headquarters identically equipped to our old long-termer, wearing the same Brilliant Silver paint, sporting the same black leather interior, and equipped with the same SL Premium Package option, which includes a panoramic moonroof, LED headlights, and a handful of active safety features. The only difference between our 2016 Rogue tester and our old 2014 Rogue long-termer, is price: at $33,175 USD, the 2016 model is $595 USD dearer than the sticker price on our old long-term car.

2016 Nissan Rogue SL AWD front three quarter in motion

Performance hasn’t changed much at the track, either. The Rogue is far from fast, with the 0-60 mph run taking 9.0 seconds and the quarter mile taking the Nissan 16.8 seconds at 83.0 mph (134 km/h), with both acceleration runs happening a hair quicker for the new Rogue than its 2014 equivalent. Braking tests from 60 mph reveal an ever-so-slight degradation in performance, with the 2016 Rogue tester needing 122 feet to come to a standstill in a panic-stop situation, compared to the 2014’s 118 feet. One area where the new Rogue has noticeably improved compared to my old long-termer is in cornering performance, where the 2016 model averages 0.80 g on the skidpad and laps the figure eight in 27.8 seconds at 0.60 g average. The best we could muster with our 2014 Rogue was a 0.77 g skidpad performance and a 28.9-second figure-eight lap, averaging 0.58 g.

Despite its ne’er-do-well name, the Rogue has always been more about safe, predictable, appliance-like on-the-road performance rather than an encouragement to the driver to push its limits. To that end, the 2016 Rogue continues to excel. Throttle response off the line is quick, without the overly aggressive tip-in that some manufacturers use to make their four-cylinder and CVT powertrains feel faster than they really are. Though acceleration feels pretty good, it’s a loud and noisy affair as the CVT lets the engine scream to its redline and then hang there as you build up speed, “When you’re accelerating, the engine moans like a hungry cat, only louder and more pathetic,” commented associate editor Scott Evans, “At least it’s got plenty of power.” Once moving, the Rogue is a great cruiser. At speed, the cabin is quiet, and the suspension is soft and supple, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the ride. While the Rogue’s ride is good, handling is probably best described as fine. The steering wheel itself is nicely weighted with good road feel from the front tires, but the cushy suspension tamps down on the fun a bit with aggressive motions behind the wheel met by body roll.

2016 Nissan Rogue SL AWD cockpit

Inside, the Rogue is a compelling package, though with a little room for improvement. Up front, the so-called Zero Gravity seats achieve Volvo levels of comfort, leaving the driver refreshed after a long day in the saddle. Nissan’s infotainment system remains competitive too, though it’d benefit from the center console-mounted control knob that Nissan has begun fitting on its newer cars as it can be a bit hard to reach from behind the wheel. Speaking of hard-to-reach, the eight buttons mounted by the driver’s left knee, which include the AWD-lock switch, hill-descent control, Sport, and Eco modes, are near impossible to distinguish from one another and use while driving.

Behind the driver’s seat, the Nissan Rogue is as practical as they come. The adult-friendly rear seat is comfortable and relatively spacious. The seat itself folds flat 45/10/45, offering up a pass-through for longer items, and it also slides fore and aft, bringing children in the backseat within arm’s reach of those up front and allowing cargo capacity in the trunk to be increased. The trunk itself is rather spacious, and its modular Divide-N-Hide shelf system allows the cargo area to be optimized for everything from organizing groceries to keeping precious cargo out of sight.

Maybe it’s my rose-colored glasses doing the talking, but there’s something really lovable about the Rogue. It’s refreshingly honest; it doesn’t try to be anything it’s not. Unlike some other vehicles in the segment, the Nissan doesn’t pretend to be sporty or act like an off-roader; instead it offers its driver and passengers middle-of-the-road performance, a comfortable ride, and a versatile cabin. The Nissan Rogue is an eager-to-please little crossover, and I’m glad I got a chance to catch up with an old MT Garage favorite.

2016 Nissan Rogue SL AWD
BASE PRICE $30,940
PRICE AS TESTED $33,340
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.5L/170-hp/175-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION Cont. variable auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,628 lb (57/43%)
WHEELBASE 106.5 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.3 x 72.4 x 65.7 in
0-60 MPH 9.0 sec
QUARTER MILE 16.8 sec @ 83.0 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 117 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.79 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.1 sec @ 0.59 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 25/32/28 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 135/105 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.70 lb/mile