EXPERT REVIEW

2023 Nissan Rogue Review: The Practical Package

nissan rogue platinum 2023 02 exterior dynamic front angle scaled jpg 2023 Nissan Rogue Platinum | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry
Photo of Damon Bell
Senior Research Editor Damon Bell has more than 25 years of experience in the automotive industry, beginning as an Engineering Graphics researcher/proofreader at model-car manufacturer Revell-Monogram. From there, he moved on to various roles at Collectible Automobile magazine and Consumer Guide Automotive before joining Cars.com in August 2022. He served as president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association in 2019 and 2020. Email Damon Bell

The verdict: The 2023 Nissan Rogue is an outstanding all-around family-hauler, aided by smart packaging, an economical and surprisingly refined three-cylinder engine, and several thoughtful features — though it does get pricey in its top trim.

Versus the competition: Thanks to its well-rounded nature, the Rogue stacks up exceptionally well against class competitors. It nabbed the top spot in our 2023 Compact SUV Challenge, backing up its first-place finish in our previous comparison test.

As one of the most popular and hotly contested vehicle classes in today’s new-car marketplace, the mainstream compact SUV category offers a fair amount of variety. Want gutsier acceleration and sharper handling than the class norm? Check out a Ford Escape or Mazda CX-5 or CX-50, which boast crisp cornering capabilities and strong available turbocharged engines. Looking to do some off-the-beaten-path adventuring? The Jeep Compass Trailhawk and Subaru Forester Wilderness are optimized for traversing rough terrain. Concerned about fuel economy? The Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, and Toyota RAV4 all offer hybrid powertrains, and the Escape, Tucson, Sportage, RAV4 and Mitsubishi Outlander also come as plug-in hybrids. But if what you want is simply a well-rounded compact SUV that excels at a wide variety of everyday tasks — and delivers a convincingly luxurious experience in its top trim level — the Nissan Rogue is, perhaps, the best choice in the class.

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Other than a Midnight Edition blackout-trim package and available Amazon Alexa functionality, the Rogue is unchanged for the 2023 model year. It was redesigned from the ground up for 2021, and Nissan replaced its naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine with a turbocharged three-cylinder for 2022. We recently tested a 2023 Rogue Platinum against five other compact SUVs — a Ford Escape ST-Line Elite, Honda CR-V EX-L, Hyundai Tucson Limited, Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige and Mazda CX-50 Turbo Premium Plus — in Palm Springs, Calif., and thanks in part to its jack-of-all-trades personality, the Rogue finished first.

Airy Cabin

Though the Rogue’s overall dimensions are average for the class. It feels airier inside than most of its rivals, with a tall roofline and generously sized windows all around. The large windshield and thin windshield pillars provide a panoramic view from the driver’s seat, and the view to the rear is better than the norm, as well. Extra-tall occupants have headroom to spare in both the front and rear seats even under the panoramic moonroof that comes standard on SL and Platinum trims. (Sunroof housings usually steal an inch or so of head space.) Our editors found the seating position both front and rear to be just right — not too high, not too low. Another much-appreciated detail: The front-seat sunshades are extra large and fully adjustable, extending to cover the entire upper portion of the front windows.

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The rear seats are especially easy to access, a particularly helpful feature for parents getting little ones into and out of car seats. The door openings themselves are generously sized, and the hinges allow the doors to open almost 90 degrees. The backseat is just wide enough for three-abreast seating for kids or smaller adults. Average-height adults will have adequate legroom, thanks in part to the Rogue’s relatively small, unobtrusive center driveline hump; very tall people, though, might wish for a little more space if the front seats are adjusted all the way back. Unlike some class competitors, the Rogue’s rear seatbacks don’t recline, but that’s not a big issue thanks to the bountiful headroom.

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Clever Cargo Solutions

The Rogue’s rear cargo area is among the more spacious in its class, and thoughtful convenience touches abound. The powered, hands-free rear liftgate is reasonably quick to open and close, and the opening itself is nice and wide with a fairly low load floor. The Platinum trim has rear seatback release levers in the cargo area so you don’t have to walk around to the rear doors to fold down those seats. So long as the front seats aren’t adjusted way back with their seatbacks reclined, the rear seatbacks can be folded without removing the head restraints.

Nissan’s clever Divide-N-Hide configurable cargo panels, which are standard on the SL and Platinum, can be set to a lower level than the standard cargo floor to free up a few more inches of vertical space. They can also be installed vertically if you want to partition the cargo floor, and a handy pocket on the passenger side of the rear cargo area is sized just right for a gallon of milk. (Take it from a guy who once had a glass bottle of cold-brew coffee concentrate roll out of its bag and shatter in the back of an SUV: Side pockets and partitionable cargo areas are good things.)

In the seating area, the bottle holders and pockets built into the front and rear door panels aren’t particularly large, but the Rogue’s small-items storage is otherwise quite good. The wireless charging pad is easily accessible at the front of the center console, and there’s an open purse shelf below the console. The console storage bin itself is large and deep, and its side-hinged “bomb bay” door design makes it easier for backseat passengers to access. The padding on those doors could be a bit cushier, though; my right elbow often landed right on the seam between the doors.

Classy Interior Trimmings

In Platinum form, the Rogue’s interior ambiance and features compare well with the fanciest offerings in the compact SUV class; in our comparison test, it was bested only by the Mazda CX-50 Premium Plus. The Rogue’s top Platinum trim gets several premium features that bring the cabin to a near-luxury level, including diamond-quilted semi-aniline leather upholstery, a 10-speaker Bose premium audio system, Amazon Alexa connectivity, a 12.3-inch configurable digital gauge panel, and adaptive cruise control that’s linked to the navigation and lane departure steering assist systems.

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Our test vehicle was also equipped with a Platinum Premium Package ($620), which adds a feature-rich 10.8-inch head-up display, heated rear seats and tri-zone climate control. The Rogue was the only vehicle in our comparison test with the latter feature, and it was also the only one with pull-up rear window sunshades, which come standard on Midnight Edition and Platinum trims and are available in a Premium Package on all but the base model. Dual USB charging ports (one USB-A and one USB-C, both in the center console) and bright LED reading lights are other welcome backseat amenities. The front seats are cushy and comfortable, but one of my favorite features is missing: Ventilated front seats are unavailable on any Rogue.

Agreeable Control Layout, Helpful Tech Features

The Rogue’s user interface is another strong point; it tied with the Kia Sportage for first place in our comparison test. The control layout keeps almost everything within easy reach, and Nissan thankfully steers clear of touch-sensitive controls, which we often find finicky and distracting to use while driving. The available 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster boasts attractive, easy-to-read graphics, and you can toggle between helpful displays such as fuel-economy data and navigation maps. The 9-inch infotainment touchscreen isn’t the biggest display in the class (the Ford Escape, for one, boasts an optional 13.2-inch screen), but the system itself is logically laid out and easy to use.

The unconventional sliding gear selector might feel a bit awkward at first, but I acclimated to it easily: forward for Reverse, backward for Drive, and press a button to engage Park. Higher-trim Rogues get a comprehensive suite of safety features; the only ones it lacked versus other SUVs in our test were adaptive headlights and a blind spot camera system. Happily, the Rogue’s lane departure warning system uses a quick vibration through the steering wheel (like a smartphone notification) to alert the driver instead of a shrill electronic beep.

Surprising Pep from Three Cylinders, But That’s All You Get

If you see the words “three cylinders” and think “wheezing, weak-kneed engine,” don’t. The Rogue’s turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder puts out a healthy 201 horsepower, about 15-20 hp more than the base engines of most competing SUVs. It takes a second for the turbocharger to spool up and deliver optimal power, but acceleration is surprisingly punchy once it does, at least in around-town driving. The engine is also paired quite nicely to its continuously variable automatic transmission. The CVT is quick to respond to throttle inputs, and it’s programmed to mimic the gear changes of a conventional automatic, which mitigates the high-rev droning sound that some CVTs exhibit.

Three-cylinder engines typically don’t sound or feel very refined, but the Rogue’s three-cylinder is smooth and hushed enough that the Rogue came out on top in the quietness category of our comparison test. Some drivers might not even notice it has one fewer cylinder than the typical compact SUV. Engine noise is nicely muffled overall, though a bit of “bumblebee buzz” intrudes in fast acceleration or when the engine is spinning at higher revolutions. And the Rogue did need to work pretty hard to climb the steep, twisty canyon roads of our test route; the engine can run out of steam at higher speeds, so the buzzy exhaust note was a constant companion on those ascents.

The Rogue’s three-banger also does pretty well in terms of fuel economy. The Rogue Platinum with all-wheel drive is EPA-rated at 28/34/31 mpg city/highway/combined, and it averaged 29.3 mpg in our real-world fuel-economy test, second only to the Escape. As good as the Rogue’s engine is, however, it’s all you can get. There’s no spicier optional engine as with the Escape’s 250-hp, EcoBoost 2.0-liter or the CX-50’s 256-hp, turbo 2.5-liter, nor is there a hybrid or PHEV powertrain option — at least not yet.

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Ride and Handling

The Rogue’s weakest category in our comparison test was handling, but even there it landed about mid-pack. It corners capably and predictably, with communicative steering that’s nicely balanced for everyday driving. If you’re looking to regularly hustle along curvy roads, though, there are better choices. The Rogue’s ride quality is middling, as well; bump absorption isn’t as good as, say, a Tucson or Sportage. The 19-inch wheels that come standard on SL and Platinum models likely make the ride a bit stiffer than the 17- or 18-inch wheels found on the Rogue’s lower trim levels.

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A Decent Value if You Hold the Frills

With a sticker price of $43,100 (including a $1,295 destination charge), the decked-out, line-topping Platinum model we tested wasn’t a particularly good value. In our comparison test, only the Escape and CX-50 were pricier, and they both had significantly more powerful engines.

However, our test Rogue was equipped with a few frivolous options that pumped up the price and hurt the value equation. The Platinum Premium Package is probably worth its $620 price tag, as is the $425 floormat set with first-aid kit, but most shoppers could easily live without the two-tone paint ($350), illuminated kick plates ($400), interior accent lighting ($350), external ground lighting (also known as puddle lamps, $620) and frameless rearview mirror with universal remote ($400). Presto — that knocks $2,120 off right there.

A $40K-ish sticker price might seem like a lot to pay for a compact SUV from Nissan, but several class rivals also cross that threshold in their higher trim levels, and the Rogue Platinum compares well to all of them. The Rogue’s more affordable trims deliver a respectable roster of standard equipment at competitive prices. The Nissan Rogue doesn’t suffer from any major gaffes or compromises, and it does a lot of things well; that’s why it’s a two-time champion in Cars.com’s Compact SUV Challenge.

Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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