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In a world so black and white, it’s good to have a little spice now and again. Nissan, lately has been firing things up amongst their fleet to modernize their cars to the new corporate standard look. A look that is working quite well for them and the next one up to receive this shared restructure, is the Rogue.

Much has changed over the last couple of years since we last tested a Rogue SV back in 2014. There is now a hybrid version which will go on sale before 2017, pending pricing details. Till then, the Rogue continues to be offered in three variants: base S – mid-range SV, and at the top of spectrum, the SL which also happens to be our test subject for this review. All-wheel drive is available on levels and sets the price back an extra $1350.

Mostly being a new disguise for 2017, the Rogue’s exterior is enhanced with Nissan’s communal V grille, new head- and tail light design, with some additional chrome details and new 17-inch shoes on the SV and SL trims. Our Rogue SL didn’t skimp on the options list though clicking for the SL Premium Package, Platinum Package, and the Platinum Reserve that hosted a variant of stylish, luxurious, and techno goodies.

The SL Premium Package ($2020) for instance brought in the family loved panoramic sun roof, bright LED headlights, and Forward Emergency Braking. To add more style and safety features, the Platinum Package ($770) upgraded the Rogue with stylish 19-inch wheels, adaptive Intelligent Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, and Lane Departure Prevention. And that Platinum Reserve ($250) boosted its interior with a comfortable leather interior with an embossed quilted design pattern – fancy.

Consumers care more about comfort than they do performance. Nissan focused their attentions to upgrading the interior to be a more comfortable, luxurious, premium place to be. This top trimmed SL expressed its premium interests with soft touch materials where it counted most and leather accent panels on the dash. A new leather wrapped flat bottom steering with a series of new controls and a leather wrapped shift lever gets replaced along with a new gear lever leather boot. In the case of our Rogue, the SL did only offer the driver a six-way power adjustable seat with memory settings, leaving the passenger to fend for themselves. Because of our SL, we were not blessed with the optional 3rd row, mainly because it’s only available on the S and SV trim levels. Not having the optional 3rd row however meant that cargo space was never an issue and with a dividable underneath storage system, anything is just about storable.

Remaining unchanged for 2017 is the powertrain – a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder using 170-horsepower to move almost 4000lbs, after it’s filled with passengers. That much power in the Rogue makes it sufficient, but only just. It takes over 9 seconds to get to highway speeds and with our foot down the CVT droned and whimpered with pockets of fake shifting built into the transmission. A little something to bring familiarity to the driver when the car isn’t shifting. Nissan developed a system called D-Step that simulates a seven-speed transmission and to the unknown weary traveler, you’ll never know it’s there.

Driving the Rogue in traffic, you learn to become patient with its slow acceleration. The CVT struggles to keep pace and requires slightly harder acceleration just to keep up with the flow. This does impact our fuel economy seeing we merely averaged 21 mpg combined for the week, not even close to the targeted 27 mpg combined EPA rating.

Underneath, we can tell Nissan did some enhancements to the chassis and bone structure. It now feels a bit tighter than before. There is sense of sureness to the road beneath, thanks to a stiffer chassis and rolling on 19-inches the suspension does show in the drivability making the bumps more present; however, at the end of the day it’s hardly a sweat off our backs. Even though the electric steering has been boasted to provide a heavier feel in the motions, there is no sense of steering desire.

Complaints also fell from the rear seats, and it wasn’t regarding the considerable amount of leg room, but rather that seats were far too firm and mounted too high – our taller passengers ran out of head room. It’s disappointing to see the continuation of the Garmin like navigation and infotainment system that doesn’t fit in in today’s world, especially when the Nissan Murano and Maxima has a much better interface. However our biggest complaint falls toward all those safety features our Rogue SL has. There’s a little switch under the dash to engage the emergency braking and lane assist feature, and it must be turned on every single time the car is started. $770 for this option and it will never be used.

Despite Nissan taking advantage of the good publicity for the next Star Wars Movie: Rogue One that will feature a limited special edition, the new Rogue definitely received some much needed love.  However, even with our SL’s premium comfort features like a power lift tailgate and advance safety features including blind spot monitoring, its powertrain and 21 mpg fuel economy merely leaves the Rogue still in the middle of the road when it comes to its rivals such as the Ford Escape, and Kia Sportage. Perhaps a turbo would be nice, hint-hint.

Vehicle Specifications:
2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Base Price: $31,310
As Tested (including Options & Destination): $35,475
Performance Specs:
2.5-liter DOHC 4-Cylinder – 170-Horsepower, CVT Automatic Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±9.0 seconds
EPA MPG: 25/32/27 (city/highway/combined) – SSB Average:  21 MPG’s – Fuel Range: 310 Miles