2014 Nissan Rogue: Las Vegas Road Trip Observations
July 11, 2014
A hot summer weekend in Las Vegas: the perfect time and place for...a librarian's convention? Perhaps not. They must have got a screaming deal on hall space in the heat of summer. Nevertheless, my non-librarian wife had business there, so the four of us loaded into the 2014 Nissan Rogue and headed out across the desert on a recent Friday evening.
The odds of escaping town without hitting traffic were not in our favor, so we left at 8:00 p.m. It wasn't late enough. The Rogue's navigation system showed the dreaded dark red line extending some 80 miles east on Interstate 15 from just past Barstow.
So we took Interstate 40 and some deserted two-lane Mojave Desert back roads instead.
We made good time, but the ride wasn't all that pleasant on the admittedly coarse two-lane back roads of our self-imposed desert detour.
The Rogue did a good job of dealing with the rise and fall of the road without floating or bottoming, but it wasn't that adept at filtering out the texture of the asphalt. The ride was busy much of the time, and it was loud. Tire noise was our constant companion on anything less than new pavement, of which there was none.
And then there's that massive sunroof, which popped and creaked on a particular 20-mile stretch. I could stop the noise by putting pressure on the joint between the two large glass panels, but it would return as soon as I removed my hand.
As prevalent as the noise was on Friday's outbound leg in the cool nighttime air, I couldn't replicate it during the heat of our Sunday afternoon return trip on the same road.
The four of us had plenty of space, and the generous luggage compartment held all of our stuff with room to spare. I didn't strictly need to set the multi-level cargo floor to the lowest "basement" setting before we loaded, but doing so kept the luggage-tops out of my line of sight whenever I glanced in the rear-view mirror.
From a driver's perspective, the steering tracked straight and true. The Rogue responded obediently when the odd corner came at us and the chassis remained stable and composed through a couple of sharper-than-expected turns that appeared out of the darkness.
But I was in a near constant state of annoyance when it came to the throttle pedal, which is uncomfortably stiff. It takes more than the usual amount of effort to prod the engine into any kind of acceleration, which has the effect of making the engine feel weaker than it really is. And I'm not talking about attempts at leadfooted hooliganism. It's apparent during routine tasks like freeway merging and passing — even cruising, if there's a little headwind or a slight grade to climb.
Once you realize there's more power on tap, the whole thing comes across as a cheap parlor trick intended to improve fuel economy by discouraging the use of the available horsepower and encouraging the use of cruise control.
The tactic doesn't work very well.
Our trip consisted of over 600 miles of nearly pure highway driving, during which the Rogue averaged 26 mpg. That's a full 6 mpg and nearly 20 percent off its 32-mpg highway rating. It's even 2 mpg below its EPA combined rating.
Say what you will about the Rogue's CVT automatic transmission. I happen to think that Nissan has done a good job of tuning away the weirdest and most disjointed traits the worst CVTs are known for.
That said, I also think that CVT transmissions in general are one of those self-serving fuel economy strategies that engineers choose primarily because they do well when subjected to the reserved pace and tempo of the official EPA test pattern. I haven't seen one yet that can live up to those government-sanctioned promises in real life. I've developed a strong suspicion that CVTs miss the mark when driven "normally" by a wider margin than other types of automatic transmissions.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 7,017 miles