Video review: 2019 Nissan Rogue

We try to figure out the Nissan Rogue's secret sauce.

The Nissan Rogue is not only one of the best-selling vehicles in the small SUV segment, but also one of the oldest. The current version of the Rogue launched in 2014, making it older than the Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V, Volkswagen Tiguan, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 and Chevrolet Equinox, just to name a few.

And yet, despite its advanced age, the Nissan Rogue outsells every vehicle just mentioned, save for the Toyota RAV4. That's an incredible feat in a world where modern features are often a core selling point.

Curious to find out what makes the five-year-old Rogue so popular, we ordered up one for a thorough evaluation. And when we say thorough, we really mean it -- we logged over 500 miles behind the wheel in just over a week.

The basics
Our test car was basically the nicest 2019 Rogue you can buy. It was an SL AWD model with the Premium Package and Platinum Reserve Interior. Including destination and a couple of bucks for some floor mats, our test car carried an MSRP of $36,085.

That might seem like a steep sum to pay for a small SUV at first blush, but that price tag is actually about mid-pack for the segment (in terms of fully loaded examples). And you do get a good bit of kit for the money -- stuff like leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel and Nissan's ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous safety suite.

Why you would buy one
After spending a week and over 500 miles with our Rogue test car, we came away with a few clear reasons why it's such a strong seller. The first is comfort. Not only are the Rogue's seats nice and comfy, but the suspension is also very good at flattening out uneven pavements. And with all the semi-autonomous gadgets switched on, the Rogue is relaxing to drive -- it stops and goes on its own, and also ensures you don't wander out of your lane.

The Rogue also has a good amount of interior space. There's room for full-size adults in the first and second rows, and there are enough cubbies and storage nooks for all their things. The Rogue isn't as well packaged as the Honda CR-V, but it has plenty of interior volume for everyday life.

The Rogue is difficult to crash with all of its advanced technology but, just in case you do figure out a way to wreck it, you should walk away relatively unharmed. The 2019 Rogue is highly rated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, with only the SUV's headlights failing to pass muster.

Why you wouldn't buy one
Just as you can tell the age of a tree by counting its rings, you can date a car by looking at its infotainment system. And in the case of the Rogue, its head unit is a clear giveaway that it's a design with some years under its belt.

The size and resolution of the screen aren't up to modern standards, and the menus aren't the easiest to navigate. The embedded navigation is also very slow to give directional prompts.

On the plus side, the system does offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, so there is a workaround. We also give Nissan credit for including a 360 degree backup camera, but the small screen and grainy resolution make it hard to take full advantage of.

Fuel economy was a surprising weak point for our all-wheel drive tester. The EPA says we should have seen 25mpg in city driving and 32mpg on the highway, but we didn't come close to hitting those figures. On our straight shot from Cincinnati to Detroit and back we averaged a mere 25mpg. And around town we couldn't break out of the mid-teens.

That poor mileage didn't even net an exciting driving experience. The Rogue won't bowl you over with acceleration, and the continuously variable transmission tends to drone on. Steering is light and without much feel.

Leftlane's bottom line
The 2019 Nissan Rogue is a competent small SUV that does everything well, but doesn't standout in any particular category. But perhaps that middle-of-the-road approach is what makes the Rogue so broadly appealing. While plain vanilla isn't the most exciting flavor, it's always a strong seller.

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