2018 Nissan Rogue N-Sport Road Test and Review
(3 / 5)
It’s no secret that the Nissan Rogue is one of the company’s most popular vehicles. Across the globe the Rogue has gone gangbusters, cementing its position as a default choice in the compact SUV market.
The reason is simple. It’s spacious, solidly built and priced well. But when you start adding some bits and pieces, the price can jack up a fair bit.
For example, the Nissan Rogue in SV guise costs $27,370 for the all-wheel-drive version. And then you can spend an extra $2K – depending on your market, of course – so that you score an “N-Sport” badge on the tailgate. Not really convincing, though, is it?
So, Nissan sweetens the deal by offering you this N-Sport edition as a special run of only 600 SUVs. And there are four colour choices, all in the hue from black to white (silver, grey, etc).
The N-Sport package also brings 18-inch black alloy wheels, gloss black mirrors, shadow-metallic bumper accents, darkened sills, a shadow-chrome grille and a few other accents.
As Nissan in the US hasn’t offered the N-Sport package yet, we’ve tested the Australian version here, called “the Nissan X-Trail” down under. And here, they call it “Nih-sun”, not “Nee-sahn”, just so you know.
So, if you add up the individual cosmetic items which the N-Sport brings, the price isn’t too bad. And it does enhance the look of the Rogue, so maybe it’s worth the extra. That’s going to come down to the preference of the individual buyer.
We’re more interested in finding out whether this 2018 Nissan Rogue is good family transport. And here’s the deal: it’s no different to the normal Rogue.
Oh sure, it looks a little different, but the Rogue’s driving manners and mechanical layout is identical.
You’ll know from how many Rogues there are on the roads around you that this compact SUV is definitely selling well. And there’s a good reason for that: its interior space.
The Rogue is quite cheap for the amount of room on offer and because it’s not aimed at the luxury market, people aren’t so precious about it. The interior is hardy and with lots of storage you can see why people are buying them left right and centre. That’s why the Nissan Rogue is actually the best selling SUV of all time.
Up front, the driver and passenger will find plenty of legroom, but even when the first row is slid back, the second-row will have enough space thanks to a sliding set of back seats.
That means you can have a 6’7″ driver and not feel cramped when put in the back. Kids will love this car’s space.
Open up the massive tailgate (by pressing the button in the recess at its base) and you’ve got around 39.3 ft³ with the back seats up and around 70 ft³ when you fold them flat. But even better is the small covers that allow the cargo space to become completely flat. Lift them up and there’s even more space underneath.
However we have found (and it’s typical of the Rogue) that the quality of the interior isn’t the best. As they say, you get what you pay for.
Of particular note is the dashtop. Now, it sort of looks like a fabric, maybe a leather of some sort. But it’s meant to be viewed from several feet away – check it out up close (like when you’re sitting in it) and it’s all just hard, molded plastic. Yes, even the fake stitching.
Sure, some of it is soft, like where you rest your elbow, but the whole cabin gets this el-cheapo feel. You can see how Nissan has tried to make it a bit easier on the eye, but it’s never going to live up to the likes of Mazda’s brilliant CX-5, even though that crossover is a little smaller.
So, let’s get it out on the road to see if it drives better than how it’s presented. And you know, even that’s a bit of a jumble.
Thankfully, having the 18-inch wheels, the Rogue can handle better than in standard form and surprisingly the suspension tune hasn’t been altered yet it rides okay. However, it won’t live up to a Tiguan’s handling, say.
We found that it’s best to just drive the Rogue at a three-quarter pace rather than blasting around the streets. Which will keep those with motion sickness happy.
Under the hood is Nissan’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline motor, which is quite refined, however with only 170 horsepower and 175 pounds-feet of torque it its disposal, the Rogue would be a far more willing performer with a turbocharger added.
The continuously variable transmission (CVT) isn’t stepped, either, so it feels a little laborious when winding it up.
Nissan uses an X-mode dial to simply change from two-wheel-drive to either auto-mode all-wheel-drive or a locked all-wheel-drive.
The traction supplied is very good, and it will detect the slightest bit of slip in automatic mode, sending power to the rear very quickly indeed. And that means if you want to head bush or drive on soft sand, you can do it. Juts let the tires down slightly and use that all-wheel-drive system to your advantage. Keep your speed up and you can get into and out of a lot of places.
We’re a bit miffed, though, that markets like Australia get a seven-seat version and Nissan in America decided to discontinue the three-row Rogue in 2017. That aside, the Rogue is a decent steed for the family, but there are certainly nicer vehicles around.
The cabin is presented better in the Hyundai Tuscon (with nicer interior plastics) while the aforementioned CX-5 makes the Nissan look like a toy car.
And that’s why even with a few extra trim details, the Rogue has to sell as a package and not just as a car with some options. People buy a Rogue because it’s a roomy and practical machine and it’s a known quantity.
For us, it’s not the pick of the compact SUV segment, but if the Rogue is on your shopping list, ignore these cosmetic packages. Just go for the base model instead.