Behind The Wheel

2020 Nissan Rogue Review: The ageing yet comfy crossover still has a lot to like

The Nissan Rogue is the third best-selling SUV in the U.S.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Despite being long in the tooth, the Nissan Rogue was America's third best-selling new SUV in 2019. A weeklong test drive proved that despite not being as rugged as the Toyota RAV4 or having as much cargo space as the Honda CR-V, the Rogue is still a formidable choice for buyers.

It's a compact SUV, meaning it has room for adults in both rows of seating. It's a size up from the Nissan Kicks and Rogue Sport, but below the Nissan Pathfinder and Armada. The Rogue is similarly proportioned to the Nissan Murano. However, the Rogue is marketed as a more budget-friendly model.

2020 Nissan Rogue The Rogue's design falls into line with the other vehicles in the Nissan lineup.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

On the outside, the Rogue doesn't look dated. Its sculpted design still plays well with the rest of the Nissan lineup. That's a bit of the beauty of having a stable of front ends all with similar grille and headlight designs.

Inside, there are numerous wins. The Rogue has an updated D-shape steering wheel, unlike the Armada and Pathfinder. Its surfaces are covered in appealing materials that are pleasing to the fingertips and look plush- something that Nissan typically excels at.

Nissan has equipped the Rogue with comfortable seats that are spacious enough for adults in both rows. Sitting all day in the Rogue while on a road trip does not create any posterior fatigue.

Each new Rogue comes standard with a 7-inch infotainment touch screen that features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Navigation and NissanConnect services are available on higher trim levels. The system isn't as high-tech as some on the market, but it works very well for the average customer.

2020 Nissan Rogue Nissan has made ProPilot Assist technology available on higher trim levels of the model.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Rogue has enough cargo space for everything from a Costco run to carpool pickup to a family road trip.

Rogue's steering is engaging yet relaxed. The car parks easily and navigates the highway with aplomb. Driving the Rogue is relatively effortless.

Where the compact SUV falters is with its Xtronic transmission. The transmission is noisy, and it features what is commonly referred to as a "rubber banding" effect. Rogue's 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is powerful enough for its class though it's not anything more than competent.

Nissan Safety Shield 360 is standard on Rogue SV and above models. The suite of safety and driver assistance technology includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, lane departure warning, radar-based blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert and high beam assist. ProPilot Assist is a great add-on for buyers and includes lane centering technology among other features.

2020 Nissan Rogue The Rogue features a divide and hide shelf for easy storage.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Nissan Rogue isn't the newest model out there, but for the average customer, it checks many of their boxes. It is a true crossover, riding low and delivering a sedan-like drive quality. Nissan makes it easy to like the Rogue, despite its age.

The 2020 Nissan Rogue is on sale now and starts at $25,300.

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Ford just announced specs for the new hardcore off-roader.

Ford

After years of speculation over the Bronco's return, Ford finally pushed the revived SUV to market last year. The rumor mill immediately kicked back into action with speculation of a higher-powered Raptor version of the Bronco to match Ford's F-150 Raptor here in the U.S. We've seen teases and a short film on the SUV, but today, The Blue Oval announced specs for what will surely be a highly desirable new vehicle in 2022 and beyond.

2022 Ford Bronco Raptor The Bronco Raptor gets upgraded cooling and engine tuning to handle high-temperature operation.Ford

The Bronco Raptor gets an exclusive twin-turbo 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 that makes 400 horsepower, which is a big improvement over the standard SUV's V6 that makes an already healthy 330 horsepower. Four-wheel drive and a ten-speed automatic gearbox are standard. Ford says the Raptor also comes with a new towing mode that allows a max tow rating of 4,500 pounds - a 1,000-pound improvement over the base Bronco. Trail Control, trail Turn Assist, and Trail One-Pedal driving are also present here.

The Raptor gets seven of the standard Bronco's G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Type of Terrain) driving modes, including a new Baja Mode that works with the engine's turbo system to reduce lag and improve performance during high-speed runs in desert temperatures. An active exhaust allows four selectable sound modes, including normal, sport, quiet, and Baja, and the Raptor's intercooler helps keep operating temperatures at reasonable levels when running in hot weather.

Using the Bronco's modular design, Ford gave the Raptor unique front and rear quarter panels, fender flares, and door appliqués. The new body components add 9.8 inches to the Raptor's width, and removable running boards help improve rock crawling abilities. Model-exclusive amber LED running lights accent the Raptor's front end, and Raptor logos set the hardcore model apart from its "lesser" counterpart.

2022 Ford Bronco Raptor Amber LEDs and special badging designate the much-upgraded Raptor model.Ford

Inside, the Bronco Raptor gets a 12-inch digital gauge cluster with configurable view for vehicle performance and other information. Black marine-grade vinyl seats and rubberized flooring are standard. Orange accents on the dash vents, door netting, and steering wheel help break up the all-black interior, and Ford offers a synthetic suede upholstery upgrade for buyers wanting a little more comfort with their capable off-roader. A 12-inch infotainment touchscreen and 360-degree camera system are also standard.

Bronco Raptor hopefuls can start placing orders in March, but be aware that there will be a wait involved for everyone. Ford says that the majority of 2022 Bronco Raptors will go to existing reservation holders based on their reservation timestamp. It's worth noting that many 2021 Bronco buyers are still waiting for the SUVs, which are being converted into 2022 orders, so the wait time for the Raptor could be severe for anyone without a standing reservation.

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What was your best car-related experience this year?

Chris Teague

This year has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been boring. Even if we focus only on the car world, there's plenty to talk about, from microchip-related new vehicle shortages to the wave of new electric vehicles hitting the market. That leaves us with a question for all of you: What was the best or most memorable car moment for you in 2021? I'll get the conversation started.

Porsche Cayenne GTS My SoCal Cayenne śaw snow for the first time in its nearly 200k-mile life last week.Chris Teague

I'd spent a good portion of 2021 wanting a new-old car to drive when I wasn't testing a new vehicle. That's harder than you'd think for someone who thinks, talks, and writes about cars all day, because there are so many interesting, risky, and downright funky options out there in every price range. The added headache for me was that I'd chosen to shop for a "fun" car in one of the most volatile car markets ever seen. Even the extremely high-mileage "untouchable" European cars I wanted to buy were commanding ridiculous prices.

After a solid few months of waffling between various rattletrap Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi S/RS cars, I landed on an option that had escaped me before: The Porsche Cayenne. First-generation Cayennes are a real bargain now, but the 955/957 (Porsche's internal code for the SUVs) can experience major problems that occur with or without regular maintenance and care. I was determined to buy one, and wasn't overly concerned about mileage, as long as I could count the number of owners on one hand. There was a beautiful 2009 Cayenne GTS with 90,000 miles but nine owners, a gorgeous 2004 Cayenne Turbo with a concerning engine tick, and many more just like them. Finally, I decided to risky-click a 196,000-mile Cayenne GTS in Southern California. It had one owner and one dealer-owner for a month or two prior to sale, its condition looked decent in photos, and I was able to negotiate a reasonable enough price that shipping it from San Diego to Maine wasn't a huge problem.

Porsche Cayenne GTS The pics look great, but hands-on tells another story.Chris Teague

I had two traveling Euro mechanics check the car out, and both confirmed that it was well-worn but mechanically sound, so I jumped. Ten days later, on a snowy, icy, dark Maine afternoon, the Cayenne arrived. Cosmetically, there were a few things the dealer and mechanics failed to mention, but overall, it looked good. The SUV passed Maine safety and emissions testing without problem, got a new set of Michelins, and I was on my way.

Porsche Cayenne GTS I'm in danger, but thankfully this should be a reasonable fix.Chris Teague

A few days of driving revealed what I was really in for. A check engine light revealed a camshaft position sensor error and the Cayenne displayed a nasty vibration at idle. A new sensor and motor mounts, and I'm on my way. I'll update you as more things break or miraculously work, but I want to hear your memories from 2021.

Email me at chris@automotivemap.com, and I will compile the best and most interesting stories for a story on New Year's Day. May you all have a wonderful 2022.

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