~ A DriveWays Review ~
by Frank A. Aukofer

Befitting its outcast name, the Nissan Rogue has operated in the shadows of its competitors, the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CRV. For 2023, it joins the elite cadre, especially with the all-wheel drive Platinum trim.

This is as classy a compact crossover sport utility vehicle as you can find. Some critics even have dubbed it the best Rogue ever, though it’s still a teenager at 15 years old. It also is the bigger brother of the Nissan Rogue Sport, a different smaller vehicle, which helped Nissan pad the Rogue sales statistics. But the Sport is going away so buyers can focus on the small Nissan Kicks.

The 2023 full Rogue model maintains its outlier status by depending on a three-cylinder engine. No, it’s not like a 1960s-era Swedish Saab or German DKW, which used two-cycle designs which required adding oil to the gasoline.

Nissan’s three is a thoroughly modern four-cycle engine with variable compression technology, which automatically adjusts the compression ratio inside the cylinders to maximize performance and fuel economy.

In the 2023 Rogue, which formerly had four-cylinder juice, the three makes 201 horsepower and 225 pound-feet of torque, or twisting force. It enables the 3,725-pound Rogue to accelerate to 60 miles an hour in the seven-second range, respectable in this era though not outstanding. It also earns an EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy rating of 28/34/31 miles to the gallon of regular gasoline.

Power gets to all four wheels courtesy of a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which uses a belt and pulleys to multiply the engine’s torque. Dubbed the Variomatic, the CVT was developed in the 1950s by DAF, a Dutch automaker.

The main characteristic of a CVT is its seamless operation. There are no shift points as with a conventional automatic transmission. Some CVTs have been criticized for feeling and sounding as if they are slipping and the engine over-revving. But Nissan has long experience with the transmission. Its CVTs, as on the new Rogue, are among the better units.

Moreover, this three-cylinder engine is an easy-revving smoothie, though it has its own voice. Some of the sounds make their way into the passenger’s ears during cruising at Interstate speeds. A few might find the noise objectionable; others likely won’t notice much.

Motoring comfort is first rate with supportive and comfortable front seats and outboard rear seats that ward off fatigue on long drives. There’s 107 cubic feet of space for passengers and 37 cubic feet for cargo behind the second row—more interior room than a large sedan.

Even the center-rear seat, nearly impossible on some vehicles, is reasonably comfortable, though foot room is compromised by a low but wide floor hump. Rear seatbacks fold flat to expand the cargo area.

The tested Rogue Platinum came lavishly equipped with an array of  safety and luxury equipment, including automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, head-up display, automatic rear braking, lane departure warning and assist, blind-spot monitoring and intervention, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with a semi-autonomous driving mode, and an around-view rear camera. An auto hold function keeps the Rogue moored at stoplights.

Luxury items included new voice activated Amazon Alexa to find music; tan pleated and perforated leather upholstery with black trim; interior mood lighting; heated front and rear seats; a large panoramic sunroof, a section of which opens; three-zone automatic climate control; navigation system; SXM satellite radio; Apple Car Play and Android Auto; leather wrapped steering wheel; hands-free power rear lift-gate; wireless device charging, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Exterior items included automatic LED headlights and roof rails.

The Platinum model’s array of features take this Rogue away from any economy car illusions, and the price reflects it. The base sticker, including the destination charge, is $39,935. Because it’s the well-equipped top of the Rogue line, the options list is relatively short and brings the tested price to $43,100. Still, with inflation and high demand, that price is less than the average price of a new car in the U.S., which is approaching $50,000.

In addition to the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, the Nissan Rogue’s major competitors are the Mazda CX-5 and CX-50, Subaru Forester, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage.

The dictionary carries a variety of definitions of rogue—from an elephant that wanders from the herd to a rascal or scoundrel. For purposes of the Nissan Rogue, we’ll go with fun-loving and mischievous.

Specifications

  • Model: 2023 Nissan Rogue Platinum AWD four-door crossover sport utility vehicle.
  • Engine: 1.5-liter variable compression three-cylinder, turbocharged; 201 hp, 225 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Continuously variable automatic with all-wheel drive.
  • Overall length: 15 feet 3 inches.
  • Height: 5 feet 7 inches.
  • EPA/SAE passenger/cargo volume: 101/37 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 3,725 pounds.
  • Towing capability: 1,500 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 28/34/31 mpg.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $39,935.
  • Price as tested: $43,100.

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