I do not understand why Nissan calls its compact crossover the Rogue, but after spending two weeks driving one — including a trip from Phoenix to Monterey and back — I certainly understand why this is the company’s second best-selling vehicle in the United States.
According to Merriam-Webster, my favorite source for such things, a rogue is a “vagrant or tramp, a dishonest or worthless person (scoundrel), a mischievous person, a horse inclined to shirk or misbehave, an individual exhibiting a chance and usually inferior biological variation.”
Another dictionary adds “playfully mischievous” and “vagabond” to the definition of Rogue, which seems to be getting more to the point of this vehicle. A vagabond is free to travel anywhere at any time and being playfully mischievous is a trait too few crossover vehicles actually provide.
While the 2015 Nissan Rogue SV we drove for a couple of weeks wasn’t quite ready to travel anywhere anytime — it came with front-wheel drive; you can buy a Rogue with all-wheel drive that will get you to, and back from, places where the surfaces are unpaved or snow-covered.
We planned no off-pavement travel and it didn’t figure to snow in the middle of summer as we crossed the Sonoran and Mohave deserts in triple-digit temperatures, and the Rogue’s air-conditioning system proved to be just fine for that task.
It also proved to be just fine for hauling two people — Bob Golfen and I — to Monterey and back. And since Bob and I were sharing not only a ride but a room, we carried with us not only suitcases and computers and camera bags but an extra folding desk and even an office chair since we figured the typical motel room has only one of each.
Back to cargo-carrying for a moment: The Rogue’s Divide-N-Hide cargo area is very cleverly designed with floor panels that can double as a cargo cover or cargo-space divider. Or you can opt for what Nissan calls an “optional stadium-style, flat-fold 3rd row 50/50-split bench seat” if you need room for more people than you can fit in the two front buckets or three-across second row.
One “cargo” nit to pick however: The hooks for hanging a suit bag are too far rearward to be usable unless you don’t mind crushing the bottom of your sport coat.
One other nit that has nothing to do with cargo is the lane-departure warning system that is part of the SV Premium Package. The package includes NissanConnect with navigation and mobile apps, a 7-inch color touch-screen display, voice recognition, SiriusXM traffic and travel link, around-view monitor, power liftgate, heated mirrors, Quick Comfort heated front seats, blind-spot warning and moving-object detection, most of which we very much appreciated.
But the lane-departure warning system was a pain in the neck, well actually, in the ears, if you like to drive aggressively, which means touching or even crossing lane markers at apex points, which is not the time when you want to reach down with the left hand, let alone divert your eyes from the road, to try to find the switch that turns the system off.
Empowering the Rogue is a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine which is linked to a continuously variable transmission. Neither Bob nor I are big fans of CVTs, but we both remarked at how well the powertrain performed in the Rogue and noted that Nissan has been a CVT pioneer and has been at it long enough to get it right.
With 175 pound-feet of torque and an efficient CVT, we could cruise at desert freeway speeds, pass on two-lane roads, and average 31.2 miles per gallon on our trip to Monterey Classic Car Week.
We didn’t lack for power even on long climbing grades across the desert or in the mountains, and the Rogue, while roomy inside, is compact enough that it’s easy to park.
The Rogue entered its second generation with the 2014 model year. For 2015, the basic S model gets upgraded standard features, the Xtronic CVT transmission gets an Eco mode and three new colors are available, including the Arctic Blue metallic finish that covered our car.
Standard equipment on the 2015 Rogue SV includes a full array of safety features, from air bags to vehicle dynamic control technology, 6-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar, EZ Flex seating with a sliding second row seat for extra legroom as needed, 6-speaker audio and 5-inch color display screen, Bluetooth, rear-view monitor (camera), dual-zone climate controls, power locks, push-button start and more.
Base price is $24,490.
Our test vehicle also was equipped with that SV Premium option package, which adds $1,590 to the price. With destination charges, the as-tested price is $26,965.
2015 Nissan Rogue SV
Vehicle type: 5-passenger crossover, front-wheel drive
Base price: $24,490 Price as tested: $26,995
Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder, 170-horsepower @ 6,000 rpm, 175 pound-feet of torque @ 4,400 rpm Transmission: continuously variable
Wheelbase: 106.5 inches Overall length/width: 182.3 inches / 72.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,413 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 26 city / 33 highway / 28 combined
Assembled in: Smyrna, Tennessee