Review and photos by Steven Bochenek
If you’ve read much of my stuff, you may have noticed I’m not a huge SUV fan. The Nissan Rogue S AWD didn’t do much to change that. But if you’re looking for a decent-sized and solid people mover for your family there’s a lot to recommend it. Whether it’s worth breaking the $30,000 barrier for is contentious.
2013 Nissan Rogue S AWD. Click image to enlarge
First, let’s talk safety features, a priority for any sane parent who’s driven in rush hour. Vehicle dynamic control (stability control) and traction control are standard, as they are with most vehicles these days but that doesn’t make them any less useful, especially in a greasy, slippery winter. The tire pressure monitoring system is more than a safety feature. It’s practical for helping maximize fuel efficiency.
If you’re buying an SUV you’ll probably hear that you need all-wheel drive, but that really depends on where you live and what driving you do. We live in the heart of the city and for years I’ve quibbled over whether all-wheel drive is necessary where there’s so little snow. However, this winter we’ve had several heavy dumpings immediately followed by monsoon rains and flash floods. The Rogue’s all-wheel-drive system helped get us out to the streets while the tires of front-wheel-driving neighbours slipped, whined and created acrid blue smoke.
A part of this tester’s special edition package, fog lights are highly undervalued until you’re driving in the middle of a low cloud. Water droplets are reflective, so your regular beams can be mirrored back, whiting out your sense of direction. (A sudden deep dip in the road on an early morning can be quite eerily disconcerting.) Fog lights arc the beams downward so you’re lighting the road not creating a cyclorama.
The trouble with airbags is that you never deploy them in a standard auto review like this. At least not intentionally. The Rogue S comes standard with airbag protection in all the right spots: dual-stage supplemental front airbags with seat belt sensors; up front, seat-mounted side-impact airbags; and back where the kids are, roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental airbags for head protection and extra protection in the case of a rollover.
(If you upgrade to the SL package, you’d get Around View Monitor, which looks like it sounds. Four miniature camera images from overhead are composited together in your monitor for views all around you when you’re parking. In a busy neighbourhood, such unimpeded 360o awareness goes from being a convenience to a safety feature for others. The composited picture takes some getting used to because, well, for one thing, you aren’t actually on the roof. And in case you’re wondering, no, you can’t see yourself through the moonroof.)
The engine is a 2.5L 16-valve four-cylinder that puts out 170 hp at 4,400 rpm and 175 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. That’s not a lot of power at the tap of a toe and you’ll need to be patient in traffic.