HOOD RIVER, Ore. -- We're using a wiggly blacktop course that swoops into Oregon's scenic Columbia River Gorge to show off the agile attitude and comfortable ride quality of Nissan's 2015 Rogue, a streamlined crossover utility vehicle nestled in the compact class.
Like a curve-craving sports sedan, Rogue rides on the front-wheel-drive chassis of a compact car. The platform, revised and enlarged with the 2014 editions of Rogue, supports a 106.5-inch wheelbase and a tire track width of 62.8 inches in front and back.
Roll over pavement expansion creases and the independent suspension -- struts in front and a multi-link arrangement in back with twin-tube shock absorbers plus large-diameter stabilizer bars at both ends tuned to check excessive lateral roll of the body -- blips the tires in exacting up-down motions and forges a firm ride quality.
Rotate the 3-spoke steering wheel and Rogue veers with direct action, thanks to a rack and pinion system with electric power assistance, which eliminates a load of hydraulic equipment and adds to the efficiency of a strong 4-cylinder engine.
Nissan adds a vented disc brake at every wheel -- with 11.84-inch front rotors and 11.68-inch rear rotors. All discs tie via computerized links to a sophisticated anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BA), plus a traction control system (TCS) and vehicle dynamic control (VDC) device which checks lateral skidding.
For locomotion Rogue carries a juicy dual-cam 2.5-liter 4-in-line engine coupled to a continuously variable timing control system (CVTCS). Output reaches to 170 hp at 6000 rpm, with torque running up to 175 lb-ft at 4400 rpm. The engine operates through an advanced continuously variable transmission (CVT) which Nissan labels Xtronic.
Rogue orients to front-wheel-drive (FWD) traction yet also offers Nissan's electronically controlled all-wheel-drive (AWD) equipment with yaw movement control for dependable grip on slippery pavement.
Rogue with FWD achieves fuel economy scores of 26 mpg city and best-in-class 33 mpg highway.
Rogue's rigid structure whittles out a rather spacious passenger compartment and utilitarian cargo bay. The cabin layout consists of a pair of NASA-inspired "zero-gravity" form-fitting front bucket seats in front of a second-row reclining 40/20/40-split bench designed to seat three riders. And there's an optional 7-passenger seat configuration with the addition of a new third-row flat-fold 50/50-split bench seat.
With Rogue's EZ Flex seat system, every seat save the driver's bucket folds down.
The cabin design includes lots of stow spots including six front storage bins, two front cupholders and two front bottle holders. And the optional Divide-N-Hide adjustable rear cargo area storage compartments bring multilevel shelving in 18 configurations.
Rogue for model-year 2015 splits into three trim levels -- entry-model S, well-equipped SV and luxurious SL -- and each version is available with FWD or AWD equipment.
Rogue S edition rolls on 17-inch steel wheels and comes with LED running lights and power mirrors with LED turn signal indicators. The cockpit stocks a rearview camera, air conditioning with rear cabin vents, power controls for windows and door locks and mirrors, a tilting/telescoping steering wheel, 5-inch color infotainment display, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and a 4-speaker audio kit with iPod/USB.
Rogue SV adds 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, roof rails, 2-zone automatic climate controls, the Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition, 6-way power controls for the driver's seat plus power lumbar support, additional audio system speakers, SiriusXM Satellite Radio and Smart Auto on/off headlights.
Rogue SL gains 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and foglamps, leather seat upholstery, heat elements for front seats and exterior mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, power liftgate, Nissan's Around View monitor, a 9-speaker Bose audio system, NissanConnect with Navigation and a 7-inch color touchscreen display.
Option packages include the Family Package with 3rd row seats, Moonroof Package with power panoramic moonroof and the Premium Package with electronic safety devices such as Blind Spot Warning and Forward Collision Warning.
We estimate that Nissan's MSRP numbers for 2015 Rogue models to stretch from $23,000 to $30,000.