In the years since we first drove the Nissan Rogue back in the Fall of 2007, it has been a favorite around The Garage every time one is in our test fleet. Each time we’ve reported about how much we love Nissan’s little suv. Now that we’ve spent a week with the 2011 version, we still love it.
Perhaps we continue to love it because the revamp it received for the 2011 model year was essentially a face lift rather than a complete going over. The Nissan press material says:
Among the many enhancements for the fourth year of Rogue production is a redesigned exterior featuring a new front fascia and grille, front chin spoiler, rear spoilers, new chrome side door guard molding trim accents, new front and rear tire deflectors and a new chrome license plate finisher. Also added for 2011 are available 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, new lower rolling resistance tires (available with the 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels) and a new under-body cover.
The cosmetic stuff is nice and all, but the reality is that the core vehicle just fits so well into our family’s lifestyle. The Rogue is comfortable and versatile, with a tactile feel that rivals that of vehicles costing much more money. Add in the outstanding reliability record and Nissan has a golden package on their hands.
Lest ye think that Nissan is paying me to gush over the Rogue, like any other car, it isn’t perfect. Unlike many drivers, I absolutely abhor CVT transmissions. Yes, I know they give great fuel economy and a smoother ride than a traditional automatic, I just feel like I’m riding a snowmobile any time I’m driving a vehicle with a CVT. Besides, a nice 6 speed manual transmission would fit in so nicely with the rest of the Rogue’s personality. At least the CVT unit in the Rogue is dead reliable, meaning it should be trouble free for the life of the vehicle.
During our week with the 2011 Rogue, we enjoyed a fairly hefty snowfall in Southern Ontario, which meant that we could spend some quality time evaluating the Rogue’s abilities when equipped with modern snow tires. When it wasn’t snowing, the temperature outside dipped as low as a balmy -20 C.
Our tester was fitted with sporty looking cloth seats that contained 2 mode seat heaters. While many consumers love the prestige and ease of cleaning that comes with leather seats, the hide emulsion that is automotive leather actually acts as a barrier that prevents the heat from getting to your posterior in a timely fashion. With fabric, the heat conducts through the covers much faster. Even at minus 20, I had toasty buns before I reached the end of the block. This is an important consideration for drivers who have to contend with cold weather for part of the year.
Another issue that affects most vehicles at those temperatures is gelled transmission fluid or gear oil that prevents automatic transmissions from shifting properly and makes manual transmissions terribly difficult to shift. Nissan uses a fairly exotic synthetic fluid in their CVT units which seems to do a better job of getting a vehicle moving in extreme cold. This must be easier on the mechanicals in the long run. Another high point for the CVT, but I’m still not budging!
In place of the standard all season tires that come from the factory, Nissan had fitted Michelin Latitude Alpin winter tires to this press vehicle. In fresh snow and sloppy, day after slush, the Rogue is firmly planted on the road with these tires. Other than feeling a bit squishy at times, acceleration, braking and turns come to the Rogue just as confidently as they do in the dry. Being the frustrated, retired rally car pilot that I am, I turned off the traction control for a bit of late night testing. Yes, testing! What I found was a whole bunch of fun! With full throttle application at corner exit, there is enough power to the rear wheels to gently bring the back wheels around just like an AWD rally car. The transition comes gently and smoothly and when the throttle is released, the Alpins dig in and the slide stops until you coax it out again. It is a very confident drive in the snow with these tires.
Many folks who drive an SUV do so because they have to haul stuff to the cottage or camp. During the Winter, cottage roads can be rather inaccessible to those who aren’t driving a properly prepared vehicle. For my photo shoot, I decided that the hill next to our local
storm water pond outdoor neighborhood rink would be a perfect spot to grab some post Winter storm photos. To get to the point on that hill where people park while skating meant that I had to cut first tracks across a couple of hundred yards of fresh snow. Given that the “road” undulates a fair bit, there were sections where the snow was knee deep. To say the AWD Rogue churned through the deep stuff with ease would be overly dramatic. The Rogue made easy work of the white stuff, clearing the way for the after school skaters. If it could conquer that, then a mid winter visit to the cottage should be a breeze.
So there you have it. My completely biased opinion of the 2011 Nissan Rogue. S’no Problem!