More of a good thing is never really a bad strategy when building an affordable SUV.
- Lake Oconee, Georgia
The 2017 Nissan Rogue proves that more of a good thing is never really a bad strategy when catering to the broad tastes that drive Canada's compact SUV market. If you've driven a Rogue in the last couple of years, then rest assured that everything you may have liked about Nissan's strongest-selling nameplate remains intact after the 2017 refresh. This includes family-friendly interior room, a stout four-cylinder engine that's relatively frugal at the pump, and a footprint that's a good fit for both city mice and country mice.
What's changed, then? You'll have to lift your head out of the spec sheet and take a look at the 2017 Nissan Rogue's sheet metal to take stock of what it brings to the table after the brand's stylists have had their way with it. Intent on aligning the Rogue with the bolder design cues found on the larger Titan pickup and Pathfinder full-size SUV, Nissan has created a version of its entry-level offering that presents a more stern face to the world.
In silhouette, the Rogue is still very familiar.
This is mostly accomplished through an extensive reworking of the Nissan Rogue's front bumper and grille, with the latter stretched to the point where its chrome V now cuts deep into the forward fascia rather than simply perch itself directly above it. Headlights and foglights have also been swapped for new units, with LED units up front matching the LED tail lights out back (and of course the rear bumper has also seen its own new shape take form). In silhouette the Rogue is still very familiar, although the fresh end-caps do a nice job of updating the profile just enough to keep things interesting.
We expected a similarly deep dive on the new Rogue's interior, but things are largely status quo once you open the driver's door. The difference is largely in the details - trim finish has been changed on several cabin panels, the shift knob and steering wheel have been replaced (with the latter featuring a flat bottom) - but aside from that you need to add the Platinum Reserve package to the range-topping Rogue SL Platinum in order to see any further changes (Platinum Reserve brings with it a set of unique tan leather seats that do a good job of dressing up the cabin).
There was no need for Nissan to start messing with success.
Should you be disappointed that the new Rogue is - aside from the well-executed styling updates - very much like the old Rogue? Not really. Already extremely competitive against rivals like the Ford Escape, the Honda CR-V, and the Mazda CX-5, there was no need for Nissan to start messing with success.
Consider that the Rogue offers one of the largest cargo capacities in its class (just under 2,000 litres total), and is one of the very few sport-utility vehicles outside of the mid-size segment to be available with a third row of seating. Granted, it's kids-only at the very rear of the Nissan, but that's still useful for families who worry that they'll need to occasionally schlep an extra tot home from lacrosse practice. It's also worth noting that there are two important additions to the Nissan's equipment list: an automatic braking system to reduce the chance of a forward collision and adaptive cruise control, features that are paired with lane departure warning and mitigation as well as blind spot monitoring on certain Rogue models.
Mechanically, the Rogue soldiers forward with its familiar 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine, one that's good for 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. A continuously-variable automatic is the only gearbox available with the SUV, and we have to say that Nissan consistently produces the most liveable CVTs on the market - there's very little drone or rubber band behaviour to be had behind the wheel of the Rogue. Fuel economy has yet to be officially published, but expect it to match the 2016 edition's 8.2 L/100 km rating in combined city and highway driving.
As long as you don't expect lightning performance from the vehicle's 170 horses, you be perfectly happy with the SUV as your regular commuter.
All-wheel drive is of course optional with the 2017 Nissan Rogue, and the version we drove in Lake Oconee, Georgia, at the launch event was so-equipped. As long as you don't expect lightning performance from the vehicle's 170 horses, you be perfectly happy with the SUV as your regular commuter. If you do crave something a little more exciting, you'll have to head to a Kia or Ford dealership, where turbocharging has unleashed startling amounts of torque from small-displacement engines stuffed into a broad range of people movers. You'll also have to leave the Nissan fold (and check out a Toyota showroom) if you want to find a battery-assisted compact hauler, because the powers that be have decided there's simply not enough interest from Canadians to justify importing the Rogue Hybrid model that our neighbours to the south will be enjoying.
Still, even with a lack of hybrid frugality in the mix the 2017 Nissan Rogue is a compelling choice for budget-conscious families. It's not surprise that the compact SUV is the economic engine that drives Nissan's Canadian machine, as the vehicle blends all the attributes that buyers are looking for in a versatile daily driver. With renewed styling to keep the Rogue fresh in the minds of shoppers, it's not hard to imagine a mechanical makeover is in the cards in the near future to line the Nissan's drivetrain choices up with its more muscular rivals. Until then, there's absolutely no reason not to enjoy the Rogue as is.
Photos: Benjamin Hunting