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.

Kia Motors has given insight into the company's future product plans.

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia is charging ahead with an aggressive electric vehicle (EV) implementation plan that includes 11 new vehicles in the next five years. The strategy, called "Plan S" starts with the company's first dedicated EV in 2021.

Plan S is a dual-focus shift for the company. On one side they will be progressing toward an EV-centric product strategy while in the other hand Kia will be focusing on customized mobility solutions. They will also be focusing on autonomous vehicle development.

By the end of 2025, Kia plans to offer a full line-up of 11 battery electric vehicles. The company is aiming to have 25 percent of its vehicle sales outside of China come from what they call "eco-friendly cars" by 2025 on their way to achieving a 6.6 percent market share in the global EV market (500,000 annual EV sales excluding China). According to a McKinsey & Co. analysis published April, the U.S. EV market almost doubled to 360,000 EV units in 2018, mainly because of the strong sales performance of Tesla's Model 3.

From 2022, Kia plans to add EVs in the passenger vehicles, SUVs, and MPVs categories. They further outlined their electric vehicle development:

The dedicated EV model to be launched 2021 will be built on a unique platform specifically engineered to accommodate the car's world-leading EV powertrain and technologies. It will offer a crossover design which blurs the boundaries between passenger and sport utility vehicles, a future-oriented user experience, a single-charge driving range of over 500 kilometers, and sub-20-minute high-speed charging time.

Across its EV line-up, Kia plans to operate two different types of EVs with different charging capabilities (400V/800V) -- high-performance dedicated models and derivative models with reasonable pricing -- to meet the diverse needs of customers.

Growth in global EV sales will be pursued in accordance with a customized, market-oriented strategy, which considers regional differences in environmental regulation, subsidies, infrastructure and more.

These EVs are expected to first be sold as a trim level option in Kia vehicles in the same vein as the Niro EV and Soul EV.

Additional Kia expansion is planned to come from car-sharing and e-commerce businesses.

"Plan S is a bold and enterprising roadmap for Kia's future business transition, buttressed by the two pillars of electric vehicles and mobility solutions," said Han-woo Park, president and CEO, Kia Motors. "Our approach is to put customers first, and Kia will reinvigorate its brand innovation by developing products and services that offer new experiences for customers."

Easily missed in this plan is Kia's proposition to raise the sales of internal combustion engined vehicles while at the same time establish the development system for EV architecture. Though they say that they'll focus those efforts on emerging markets, it's relatively safe to say that the Soul, Forte, and Telluride aren't going away any time soon.

Kia is activating recent partnerships and company share acquitions to get to this goal. Last year, the Korean automaker invested in Croatian performance EV manufacturer Rimac Automobili and IONITY, which specializes in building high-speed charging infrastructures.

They're also planning on building "Mobility Hubs", transfer stations between electric vehicles and internal combustion engine vehicles. Long term plans call for self-driving robotaxis and on-demand roboshuttles to also populate these Mobility Hubs.

Kia is part of a car-sharing services joint venture with Repsol, Spain's major energy corporation, in Madrid via its WiBLE brand.

The Chevrolet Silverado HD was redesigned for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

It already proved capable at hauling and towing on long stretches of road up, on, and around Mt. Bachelor in Oregon. That was a confined test, however, designed by Chevy to show off the redesigned Silverado HD's best qualities. When tested, unrestricted, on the rural roads, historic city streets, and highways of the East Coast, the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD proved even more impressive.

The Silverado HD is huge. The 2500 that was delivered sat in the driveway towering over the Explorer parked next to it. The truck looks imposing too, especially with the large grille that faces a hood that is taller than this driver.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD The grille of the Silverado HD is quite large.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Thankfully there are grab handles and side steps to aid in getting in the truck. Without the steps, it's quite the pull-up to get into the 2500. Getting in the bed was also easy thanks to a sidestep and the bumper steps.

The Chevrolet Silverado HD just isn't as nicely appointed as the Ram HD. There's no getting around that. However, in its midgrade trim level, the interior appointment choices of the 2500 make good sense for its price point and likely utilitarian lifestyle.

That doesn't mean that it's not well-appointed. Its surfaces aren't plush like what you'll get in the Ram, but they're pleasant enough to look at and inoffensive to the fingertips.

The truck's seats are comfortable, even for 600 miles at a time, which is about the range of the 2500 when equipped with the 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8 engine.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD The Silverado HD is surprisingly well-mannered on the highway.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

On the road, the Silverado HD is much more impressive. Despite its enormous size, the truck is easy to keep between the lanes, even without the modern driver assistance technology you'll find on some regular-duty trucks. Driving the model on the highway isn't tiring.

Though it does feel its size when you're behind the wheel, the truck is reasonably nimble and easy to maneuver. That's helpful on small, historic streets of places like Charlottesville, Virginia, where the size of the lanes and availability of parking spaces will make you wish there was a "HD trucks" setting in the navigation system. At around 78 inches tall as delivered, the Silverado HD is too tall to fit in most of the parking garages in historic areas.

That being said, the truck's numerous camera angles and wide mirrors made it easy to back into a spot and parallel park when necessary.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD Mid-grade Silverado HDs, including this LTZ trim model, are the best balance of capability and value.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Silverado HD is tremendously more stable on the road and it soaks up most of the imperfections. It doesn't have nearly the amount of body lean when cornering that the Ram HD does.

The engine is just as competent as the handling. Despite being plenty beefy and brawny for the task at hand, the diesel delivered around 22 mpg in mixed traffic situations, including some stretches pushing the upper limits of allowable speed on the highway and idling in traffic several times in bottlenecks. That number makes the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 about 50 percent more fuel efficient than the 2020 Toyota Tundra in similar driving situations.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD The interior of the Silverado isn't as nice as the Ram HD, but it's good enough.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

The Silverado HD LTZ came with standard with an 8-inch infotainment system. It worked as advertised with the latest operating system running in the background, which isn't too much of a departure from the previous one resulting in a very shallow learning curve.

The Silverado 2500 made a lasting impression during a week of road tripping. Its comfortable seats and fuel efficiency were the biggest surprises and the only true disappointment was that its height made it incompatible with parking garages.

With the capability and appointments considered, its $70,000 sticker price seemed appropriate.

Chevy may not have hit it out of the park with the Silverado HD redesign, but they hit a solid double that keeps them in the game.