by Frank A. Aukofer

In its opening weekend, the new Star Wars movie “Rogue One” dominated box offices with $155 million in ticket sales. Nissan hopes the Force will be with its namesake, the 2017 Nissan Rogue crossover SUV.

The movie came along at an opportune time, which Nissan seized. It trimmed up a 2017 Rogue, mainly with logos, badges, decals and black paint, cut a deal with the movie producers and introduced it at the Los Angeles Auto Show as the Star Wars Rogue One Limited Edition.

Nissan Rogue: Rogue One Star Wars Limited EditionBased on the Rogue’s midlevel SV version, the Star Wars model comes only in Glacier White or Magnetic Black. There’s a charcoal interior and Limited Edition floor mats along with Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire cup holder inserts, among other fillips. Production is limited at 5,000 U.S. units and the price works out to $33,920. Buyers also are entitled to a replica Death Trooper black helmet.

Actually, the Rogue has been doing quite well without venturing into the cosmos. It now is the best-selling vehicle in the Nissan lineup, totting up 329,904 sales in 2016. It now parks in third place among compact crossovers behind the Honda CR-V (357,355) and Toyota RAV4 (352,154).

2017 Nissan Rogue

Also new for this year is a Rogue Hybrid, the subject here. It joins the Rogue’s other models: S, SV and SL, in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Non-hybrid models offer optional third-row seats to boost the accommodations to seven passengers. The Hybrid’s battery pack nestles under the cargo area, precluding a third-row seat.

2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

Because of the batteries, the cargo floor is raised a couple of inches. But there’s still a generous 30 cubic feet of space. Outboard second row seats deliver ample head and knee room, and even the center position is usable. Seatbacks fold down for additional loads.

Like most hybrids that are not super-performance cars, this new Rogue’s strong suit is fuel economy. It links a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with a 30-kWh electric motor. Together, they deliver 176 horsepower and EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption of 33/35/34 mpg in the tested front-drive version. The front-drive gasoline model is rated at 26/33/29 mpg.

2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

Like other Nissans, the Rogue Hybrid sends its power to the wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which uses a system of belts and pulleys to seamlessly multiply gear ratios and transfer the engine’s power without the shift points of a traditional automatic transmission.

Nissan has extensive experience with CVTs connected to engines of different power and has largely eliminated characteristics that have prompted criticisms, like a noisy sensation that the transmission is slipping.

2017 Nissan Rogue

However, Nissan finesses even minor criticisms with computer programming that mimics shift points under hard acceleration or when manually shifting the CVT. On the Rogue Hybrid, there’s also a Sport mode that holds the shift points to higher engine revolutions for better acceleration, which of course guzzles extra gasoline.

Like other hybrids, the Rogue can be driven for short distances on electric power alone. But the gasoline engine soon kicks in for hybrid driving. It also employs an automatic stop-start system to contribute to fuel economy.

As a result, there’s a bit of hesitation off the line when the driver punches the throttle. Once underway, the Rogue Hybrid feels strong and has no problem keeping up with traffic, though you wouldn’t want to engage in many stoplight drag races.

2017 Nissan Rogue

Overall, this hybrid doesn’t feel much different from its internal combustion counterpart, mainly because its gasoline engine runs most of the time. It cruises comfortably and quietly, with a ride that’s a touch on the soft side, and tracks truly on straight roads. There is a bit of body lean on curves but nothing that causes anxiety as long as you slow down.

With its top-line SL trappings, the Rogue Hybrid comes well heeled with full safety equipment, including automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.

There’s also a panoramic glass sunroof, leather upholstery with heated front seats and memory settings for the driver’s seat, seven-inch touch screen with navigation and a rear overhead camera view, SXM satellite radio with real-time traffic information, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone automatic climate control, and Siri Eyes Free operation of vehicle functions. Exterior touches include LED turn signal lights and daytime running lights, roof rails, fog lights and heated outside power mirrors.

In the compact crossover SUV category, there currently is only one other hybrid competitor: the Toyota RAV4.

2017 Nissan Rogue

Specifications

  • Model: 2017 Nissan Rogue SL Hybrid four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine:0-liter four-cylinder gasoline with 30 kWh electric motor, 176 combined hp.
  • Transmission: Continuously variable automatic; front-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 5 inches.
  • EPA passenger/cargo volume: 101/30 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,685 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 33/35/34 mpg.
  • Estimated as tested price, including destination charge: $33,920.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

Photos (c) Nissan.

2017 Nissan Rogue