That Nissan’s mid-size five-seater Rogue SUV has been the brand’s most popular model in recent years is hardly shocking. That it’s placed a solid second in the entire SUV/crossover segment’s sales standings for years – and now claims the top spot despite vying for buyers against the better-known Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4 – is.
The Rogue is available in conventional gasoline-powered (covered elsewhere) or gasoline-electric hybrid forms, with both sending power to the front or all four wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Two Hybrid trims are available, priced at $27,995 and $33,355 for the FWD SV and SL, respectively, with all-wheel drive a $1,350 upcharge.
What's New for 2018
Though the Rogue Hybrid is only in its sophomore year, Nissan’s nonetheless made significant improvements to the model. The standard features list has grown to include a motion-activated power liftgate for both trims, an updated NissanConnect infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, and an additional USB port. The SV’s standard safety suite has also grown to include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and lane departure warning and assist, while an adaptive cruise control system has been added to the Premium Package.
Choosing Your Nissan Rogue Hybrid
Despite the “regular” Rogue’s sales success, Nissan has chosen to make the hybrid version available in its “four key US market areas: the West, Northwest, Mountain, and Mid-Atlantic regions.” That’s not to say Midwesterners, for instance, can’t buy them; it’s more that they shouldn’t count on their local dealer having any.
Regardless, the Hybrid Rogue is powered by an automatic stop/start 2.0-liter inline-four gasoline engine that produces 141 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque coupled to a 30-kW electric motor fed by a battery pack beneath its rear seats. Together, they can put out a net total of 176 hp – six more than the regular Rogue’s 2.5-liter inline-four – to the ground through Nissan’s Xtronic six-speed CVT.
In front-wheel-drive form, going Hybrid adds $1,000 to the MSRP of the SV and $1,200 to SL. It also adds several hundred pounds, but, despite either Hybrid’s weight “penalty,” its zero-to-60 mph time is within the same nine-to-10-second range as all Rogues.
But, as it’s a hybrid, that’s not the set of numbers most consumers focus on. According to the EPA, the FWD Rogue returns 26 miles per gallon city, 34 mpg highway, and 29 combined, while the AWD gets 25/32/27 mpg (city/highway/combined). The heavier Rogue Hybrids, on the other hand, are EPA rated at 33/35/34 mpg and 31/34/33 mpg, respectively.
Apart from all-wheel drive and niceties like leather upholstery and a panoramic moonroof, choosing a 2018 Nissan Rogue Hybrid comes down to the selection of tech. Need navigation? It’s $30,865 in an SV with the Premium Package. Want what’s available safety-suite wise? That’s $33,355 to get into the FWD SL Hybrid.
According to the gospel of Merriam-Webster, a rogue is defined as a tramp, scoundrel, mischief-maker, or dishonest person. The Nissan Rogue, thankfully, fits none of these definitions. In fact, it's one of the most innocuous and mainstream crossovers on the market. To further broaden the appeal of this family-hauler, the 2018 Nissan Hybrid is a thrifty alternative to the standard gas-powered models.
The Rogue Hybrid is available in SV and SL trims. The SV is the more affordable choice, with a sticker price a shade under $28,000; the SL costs a hefty $5,000 more. While the SL includes a fair number of additional features, a quick perusal of the ordering sheets uncovers a money-saving shortcut to the SL's goodies but without the sticker shock. It's called the SV Hybrid Premium Package, and, at $2,850, it includes everything the SL has except for leather, LED headlights, and a few other odds and ends. Upgrade your SV with this package, and revel in knowing you saved $2,000 over the pricier but similarly-equipped SL. Here's our Rogue Hybrid on delivery day:
Model: 2018 Nissan Rogue Hybrid SV
Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 30-kW electric motor
Base Price: $27,995 (including a $975 destination charge)
Best Value Price: $30,865
It's hard to use the word performance when talking about the Rogue. With just 176 horsepower being churned through a CVT, the Rogue doesn't so much perform as it does pantomime. This is especially true when it comes to that loudmouthed transmission. Other companies have done a great job masking the inherent deficiencies of a CVT, so why can't Nissan match their efforts? Until the brand can further refine and silence their infinite-ratio hardware, we'll always be disappointed with the perpetually drone that emanates from it.
At least the hybrid setup has better manners. Specifically, the system comprises of a 2.0-liter engine hooked up to a 30-kW electric motor and a lithium-ion battery. This combination manages to hold fuel consumption down to an EPA-estimated 33 miles per gallon city, 35 mpg highway, and 34 combined, which is a definite improvement over the non-hybrid's 26/33/29 mpg ratings. The electric boost is also good for offering a bit more off-the-line torque than the all-gas 2.5-liter found in regular Rogues, though our seat-of-the-pants test says that the Hybrid isn't noticeably slower or faster than the non-hybrid.
Over the road, the Rogue handles well enough, but ignore any thoughts that the flat-bottomed, three-spoke steering wheel may inspire – there's little feedback from the sporty-looking tiller, and the high center of gravity is apparent in any corner taken too aggressively.
Between the lack of steering feel, dearth of handling, and cacophony of transmission noise under anything close to hard acceleration, there's no question about this being the wrong crossover for the performance-minded buyer. Still, it's competent enough for anyone who's not too concerned with athleticism.
The Rogue is Nissan's entrant into that gladiatorial arena of entry-level crossovers. As such, the styling is spot on for what it needs to be – handsome, quiet, and practical. It's easy for automakers to go down the look-at-me styling route as a way to inject sportiness into their lineup or add visual pizzazz, but it looks contrived and awkward more often than not. Nissan smartly sticks to the basics here, and the result is a CUV that won't insult anyone or call attention to itself. If you're robbing a bank, the Rogue wouldn't be a bad choice of getaway vehicle.
The cabin adheres to this same philosophy, with everything laid out logically and bereft of any extemporaneous style. The sole ill-fitting bit is the aforementioned flat-bottomed steering wheel, and only because that kind of sporty gimmick is about as out of place here as a Rock Band drum kit is on a professional stage.
Otherwise, there's not much in the cabin to complain about. SV models boast features such as heated seats as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. In SL spec, the interior is the most luxurious it'll ever be, and has more soft-touch materials, leather upholstery, and nicer trim. Both versions use a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system that's straightforward enough to learn.
Usable interior space is always important to crossover shoppers, and the Rogue doesn't disappoint. It feels quite spacious inside, and the dimensions back this up: 43 inches of front leg room and 38 inches in back, 54 inches of hip room up front and 52 out back, and cargo capacity of over 61 cubic feet with the second row folded flat.
The Best and Worst Things
Nissan always seem to deliver on price, and the Rogue Hybrid is no different. For just under 28 grand, you can get a hybrid crossover that's equipped with features like heated seats, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. What's not to like about that?
The biggest glaring fault with the Rogue is the transmission. Step on the gas, and there's a moment of lag as the CVT tries to find the right ratio, moaning in protest all the while, before actually delivering the asked-for acceleration and moaning even louder. It's a big deterrent to an otherwise competent crossover.
Right For? Wrong For?
Small families who are first and foremost concerned about value and economy would find the Rogue Hybid an enticing buy.
If those families like driving, though, there's definitely better options out there. When it comes to fun factor, the Rogue falls flat on its face.
The Bottom Line
The 2018 Nissan Rogue Hybrid is no rogue, but rather an affordably-priced and handsome crossover that's well suited to the rigors of daily family life. It may not be the most athletic 'ute of the segment, and the transmission needs to learn how to keep quiet when it's not being spoken to, but it delivers where it counts. If the bookworms at Merriam-Webster are looking to update their definition of rogue, checking out the Rogue Hybrid wouldn't be a bad idea.