2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid: A New Breed

Since its introduction, the Rogue has been very popular for being among the largest of the ‘midsize’ compact SUV/Crossovers. This is a booming segment of the auto industry, as people continue to switch from both conventional cars and larger SUV’s to these compact versions. While way more efficient than its larger, truck-based cousins, there’s still a lot left to be desired on the efficiency front. Nissan has answered that by adding a Hybrid option to its redesigned 2017 Rogue range. So let’s see if it’s worth the trade-offs over the standard model.

First of all, the Rogue gets some cosmetic and trim changes for the new year, with optional features now offered on the more base models as well as the higher trims. This allows you to save a few bucks if the budget is tight. There are cues all throughout even our top-of-the range SL test vehicle that point toward cost savings, with cheaper plastics being used in key areas, along with some less modern switchgear. Even the 7” touchscreen infotainment system, despite having all the features you would expect, feels a bit dated compared to some other units.

For its hybrid system, Nissan went with a 2.0-Liter 4-Cylinder making 141hp, coupled with a 40hp electric motor. While it claims to be able to run on EV only, it seems that is more marketing claim than real-world feature. We couldn’t crack 5mph, and you had to be so gentle with your acceleration. The only place I could see it working is driving slowly in a parking lot, not a friendly thing to do to your fellow shoppers.

It’s a very advanced system, coupling the power through two clutches and a CVT transmission. As we’ve talked about before, the CVT never quite feels right – when you dip into the throttle, it feels like it takes an eternity for it to change ratios enough to actually accelerate, meaning it feels very sluggish indeed. Now, buying a hybrid crossover, you’re not necessarily looking for a sprinting sports-car feel, but this sometimes feels too lazy – like it’s designed to keep you from picking up speed.

Even with the advanced-complex drivetrain, this doesn’t really feel like a hybrid – there’s not much whine from the electric motor, and since the EV-only mode is so limited, you find it going on engine power all the time. Unless you change the dash display to show power flow, there’s only a small needle-gauge to show whether it’s charging the battery or using the motor. If you didn’t look at the subtle hybrid badges, you wouldn’t really know it was a hybrid. That’s fine with us, because more and more people are able to buy ‘normal’ cars/trucks that are hybrid, instead of just quirky-looking hatchbacks.

So what does all this hybrid technology mean for efficiency? The standard 2.5-Liter models get 26/33mpg city/highway for front-wheel-drive versions, and 25/32mpg for all-wheel drive. The hybrid versions jump to 33/35 and 31/34mpg, respectively.  And if you primarily do highway driving, you’re really not going to see a lot of benefits. It’s the city driving that shows the most gain, where the regenerative braking charges the battery every time you stop.

So what are the other trade-offs for choosing the hybrid model? For starters, the non-hybrid versions are available with a third-row seat and 40/20/40 folding rear seats – none of which are available on the hybrid. Since you are looking for utility and flexibility out of your mid-size crossover, we think Nissan has missed the mark by not making room for these great options.

Overall, we applaud Nissan for coming out with a hybrid version of the Rogue. Plus, it seems to be a great value at around $35k fully loaded. The small upgrades added for 2017 really do make for a great-looking and feeling vehicle, and if you do a ton of city driving, go for the hybrid version.

Jason.S@mychinews.com

Special thanks 

to Nissan Motor Company for 

providing the 2017 Nissan Rogue 

 

for review.