2014 Nissan Rogue: Portland Road Trip Part 1
January 20, 2015
I've been critical of our long-term 2014 Nissan Rogue but I needed something with all-wheel drive for a lengthy road trip, so over the holiday break, I gave it another shot. The trip went from Los Angeles to Portland with a day trip to Seattle and several stops along the way, so the Rogue had plenty of chances to change my mind.
I was travelling solo, so there was no need to travel light. As you can see, I packed everything: duffel bags with eight days' worth of cold-weather clothing, holiday gifts for friends, a bed roll, sleeping bag, a pillow, my laptop, a few bags of food and a backpack for running gear. With the seats in place, the Rogue has more cargo space (39.3 cubes) than the Honda CR-V (35.2), the Mazda CX-5 (34.1) and the Jeep Cherokee (24.8). Since I obviously overdid it, this extra space would do wonders if I had any passengers.
Problematically though, the power rear liftgate takes a long time to open. You have to hold the key for a few seconds before it responds, then the tailgate lifts which takes about 12 seconds all together. It may not seem like a long time but it feels like an eternity when it's snowing. I'd definitely prefer a manual tailgate. And at 5-feet-9-inches tall, I was grazing my head on the lifted liftgate every time I got something out of the trunk.
Day one's route took me up Interstate 5 and highway 99 through central California, which are both pretty flat. I've set some milestones along these roads in a few other long-term cars and I planned on doing it again. After nine months in our fleet the Rogue still hadn't cracked its EPA-estimated 32 mpg highway so I hoped a light foot on my part would help it get there. I checked the tire pressure, filled up at a gas station 20 feet from the freeway onramp and set out.
Twenty minutes in, I hit gridlock. Holiday traffic had me in stop-and-go traffic for an hour on my way out of L.A. I wasn't earning any hypermiling records in this stuff.
Once I cleared the jam, I resumed my cruise-controlled speed of 68 miles per hour and settled down in the slow lane. After seven hours of podcast-regulated-boredom I stopped for gas with 413.1 miles on the trip computer. This was a new range record for the Rogue (up from 361 miles) but it still didn't meet its highway EPA estimate. The long highway miles combined with the traffic jam meant I got 30.0 mpg. So, close, but no cigar.
The last few miles to my father's house were along the dark mountain roads of Nevada City, CA. The Rogue's optional LED headlights performed well there. They're aimed high enough for clear vision down the road but not so high that they blind the drivers in front of me. They have a clear cutoff line and they spread wide across the road.
Before I settled in for the night, a warning popped up on the Rogue's instrument panel: Alarm, Low Temperature Outside. It kicked on at 37 degrees and reminded me of the next day's white-weather forecast. Next up: snow on the Suskiyou Summit and the road to Portland.
Travis Langness, Associate Editor @ 16,369 miles