Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
John asks: What do think about Nissan Rogue Sport. Are they a good reliable SUV? Thank you for your opinion.
My reply: Well, the Rogue isn’t an SUV, for openers! It’s a crossover – and the distinction is important.
SUVs are vehicles built on truck-type underthings, with truck-type drivetrains. They can perhaps best be described as trucks with seats bolted to their beds and the bed enclosed, to serve as interior space. A good example of an an SUV is the Ford Expedition, which is closely related to the F-150 pickup. Another is the Nissan Xterra, which is closely related to the Frontier pick-up.
SUVs are usually rear-wheel-drive (also styled 2WD) with a four-wheel-drive (4WD) system available optionally.The 4WD system will usually have Low range gearing and the SUV is capable of off-roading.
Crossovers are vehicles built on car underthings and lighter duty than SUVs. Most are front-wheel-drive (FWD) and offer an all-wheel-drive (AWD) system optionally. They ride higher than cars and look like SUVs but aren’t designed for serious work or serious off-road work.
The Rogue is a compact-sized crossover, just redesigned (for 2021) to look even more like the SUV it isn’t. Not that there’s anything wrong with not being an SUV – or trying to look like one. People like crossovers because they have more room inside than a same-footprint SUV (because the FWD/AWD drivetrain takes up less room) and because they have the “rugged” look without the SUV’s rugged ride and usually very hearty appetite for fuel. Crossovers are also good in the snow and better on-road in the wet than SUVs because truck-type 4WD is meant to be used off-road, on uneven surfaces.
The Rogue is very popular. In fact it is Nissan’s best-selling model – so apparently people like it. I don’t dislike it; I just find it as “sporty” as a deflated basketball. This is true of course of almost all the vehicles of its type, which are very practical and versatile… but the “sporty” honorific is a bit much!
The only negative thing I’m aware of with the Rogue and late-model Nissan’s generally is their CVT automatic transmissions, which haven’t got the best rep for long-term durability and can be expensive to replace when they fail.
Be sure to have a look at others in this class. I especially recommend the Mazda CX5 (which offers more engine) and (though a bit smaller) the Subaru Crosstrek – which is actually sporty. You can get it with a manual transmission, for instance.
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Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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