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2015 Nissan Rogue SL AWD – The “Gettin’ Hitched Review”

Bradley Brownell June 23, 2015 Featured, Nissan Reviews 19 Comments

Rogue 6

At the beginning of June, I had to fly back to the Midwest (where I’m from) for a couple of weeks. While I was there, Nissan let me borrow the keys to a brand new Rogue crossover (NOT the Rogue Select, it should be mentioned). I logged a surprising amount of miles, and used the car for pretty much everything it was built to do. I hauled some stuff, I hauled some people, I commuted, I road tripped, and I took it for a nice night on the town. If you’re in the market for a small-ish SUV style thing, you might want to continue reading this review. Oh, and to make this plug a bit more enticing, I was in the Midwest because I got married!

That’s right; after more than a decade of courtship and betrothal, I finally tied the knot with my best friend in the whole world, my highschool sweetheart. I’ve already told the story of our engagement here on The Hooniverse, and this is the car-adjacent story of how we got married, so what better place to put it.

My favorite lady (now wife) and I grew up in Southwest Michigan, going to high school together, going to college together, and getting the hell out together. As such, most of our family and friends still reside in that part of the country, and that was where we decided to have our wedding. After Michigan, we moved to Atlanta, Georgia where we spent two years hating life in the aftermath of the 2008 economic collapse. We both had work, but were constantly broke. When an opportunity presented itself in Cleveland, Ohio, we took that path toward happiness. For two more years we lived in the community known as “the mistake by the lake”, and we were much happier than in Atlanta, gaining some important and hopefully life-long friends (three of whom were groomsmen). After Ohio was Reno, Nevada, where we currently live. So, a week before the wedding, I flew in to Detroit and drove down to Cleveland to meet up with some friends for a ‘Bachelor Party’.

While I was on my trip, I got an e-mail from Editor Glucker saying that I should write my tales of debauchery and madcap partying in the style of Hunter S. Thompson. I believe he vastly underestimated the kind of ‘fun’ we got up to. (I also believe he vastly underestimated my talent as a scribe. I have a grasp of the English language, and I’ve been known to write prose, but my entire defensive-lineman frame has less talent than Mr. Thompson’s weirdo cigarette filters. I’m no gonzo journalist, try as I might.) I mean, yeah, it was a Bachelor Party, but not in the traditional sense, it wasn’t. This wasn’t an attempt at storyboarding an ill-advised “The Hangover 4”. Our day of camaraderie, well, mostly it was just five guys hanging out doing awesome stuff, but no illicit drugs or ladies of the night were involved in any way. Some might call that boring, but I was just excited to be back among friends I hadn’t seen in over a year.

Part 1: Initial Impressions of The Chariot

Rogue 2

As said before, I had this Nissan Rogue for a little over a week, and I intended to use it. I flew into Detroit Wayne County airport, where I’d been many many times before, and climbed aboard the good ship Nissan. Going into the trip, I’d had all of these pre-conceived notions of what the car would be and why I probably wouldn’t like it, including deeply ingrained CVT hate, deeply ingrained ‘CUV’ hate, and lackluster experience with Nissan’s current small cars (Don’t worry Micra, you’re cool. It’s the Versa and Sentra I have beef with.). Being as objective as I possibly could be, I started it up and got underway.

It should be noted that I have lived in the desert for 2 years now, and while I hate when people say the phrase “It’s a dry heat”, I never really realized how true it was until I stepped off of the plane in Detroit. It was 85 degrees and the air was thicker than a bowl of oatmeal. I had sweated through my first shirt by the time I even got to the lot where the Nissan was parked. Once aboard, I quickly found the dual-zone climate control buttons and punched up a temperature somewhere just above the supermarket frozen section. I’ve never been in a car that cooled off so quickly. Once on the road, I was wishing for a vented seat option, as the tan leather was trapping a good amount of heat between it and my back. Anyway, with a long 9 days of weird weather that included near-monsoon rains, frosty mornings, and oppressive mid-day heatwaves, the Nissan did a pretty darn good job of keeping me comfortable.

As everyone already knows at this point, I’ve always been a sports car guy. I like to sit low in the car and feel its movements around me, so when I had to step up into the Rogue, I was expecting to not enjoy the seating position or the seats themselves. This was probably the first thing I was wrong about. Those seats felt great. They were plush and comfortable. The seating position was upright and chair-like which aided in comfort for long drives. No, they didn’t transmit as much of the road to my backside, and they didn’t communicate the G-force to my torso through the bolsters, but they were supportive enough that I didn’t find myself wanting for more, even on the fastest of highway onramp trips.

Rogue 5

So far, so good. Well, my first couple of gripes came a few minutes later. After only a few miles on the open highway, I found three minor things that annoyed me so much by the time I was done with the car.

1. I really like the massive panoramic-style sunroof. I do not like how slow it is to open. I have been in convertibles that retracted and stowed away their tops faster than this sunroof opened. The sunshade has to fully retract before the glass even begins to move, which adds another 12 seconds or so to the process if you’re starting from full closed. It’s a minor problem, and it opens with one push of the button, but I found it grated my nerves.

2. The radio knobs are nice, weighty, pleasant to touch, and have definitive delineations between the clicks. They’re too damn far away. I am over 6 feet tall, and carry around orangutan arms, and I still had to lean forward and reach to turn the far knob. Again, this is a minor problem, as most of the buttons you’d want to push while driving are located on your steering wheel, but again, I found it annoying after 9 days. I can’t imagine how annoying I would find it after 9 years of ownership.

3. By far, the most egregious issue I had with the Rogue during my custodianship was the lane departure system. Ostensibly included for safety purposes, this ‘feature’ only served to annoy me ceaselessly. I tend to drive hugging the outside line of the road. Mostly because I don’t trust other drivers, but that’s a story for my therapist, not for my readers. Because of this tendency, the dash is almost always lit up with that little lane departure warning, and the car interior beeps with the frequency of R2D2 while the system is turned on. On the plus side, the lane departure system can be disabled with the touch of a little button on the dash. Everything’s, A Okay, right? Well, when you turn off the car, the system resets and defaults to on. 3 minutes later when you’re merging onto the highway and hear that beep, every fiber of your being will hate the car with a fiery passion. It got so bad that I had developed a Pavlovian response to the beeps in such a way that I would find myself thinking about how to avoid the system from digitally scolding me. The worst example was when I thought for a brief second about not allowing plenty of space for a cyclist in the bike lane to my right. I did the right thing and gave him about 4 feet, but I crossed the line, I was beeped at, and I felt like I had disappointed the Rogue.

Part 2: The Bachelor Party –

The night I arrived in Ohio, the night before the bachelor party, we went to eat at my favorite Ohio restaurant, Melt. They make gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, and they are the absolute bomb. Good food and good friends, can’t ask for much more.


The adventure starts with five gentlemen piling into a Nissan Rogue to take a trip to High Voltage Karting in Medina, Ohio. Fitting five full-grown men in the Rogue wasn’t too difficult, really. Everyone was relatively comfortable for short stints. I wouldn’t imagine this would have worked well for five people on a multi-hour road trip, but driving across town was just fine. Loaded down with roughly 1000 pounds of human beings, the 170 horsepower QR25DE 2.5 liter 4-cylinder struggled a bit, but we made it alright. Third row seating is an option on the Rogue, but it doesn’t look all that appealing to me, as it takes up literally all of your storage space, and is best reserved for very small children. It won’t take long for a kid to outgrow that third row.

It should be mentioned that the Nissan handled horrible weather with aplomb. Ohio was rainy and nasty that weekend, and we had to drive through some horrendous torrential rain to get there. It was so bad that there were many cars lining the sides of the highway waiting for the rain to dissipate with their hazards flashing. I took it slow and had the wipers working to their fullest, only driving as fast as I could reasonably see, but we made it through and all was well. Only about 20 minutes later and the rain was all cleared up anyhow.

I really love indoor electric karting, and this place was as good as any others I’ve been to. The karts are quick, the circuit is well laid out, and it allows for some good action if you can string the corners together well enough. Among the five of us, I am by far the largest, both in height and girth, so I expected to rank somewhere down the time sheets. Apparently even in karting my rudimentary knowledge of where and when to push was helpful, as I had 8 of the top 10 fastest laps in our session. Unfortunately, one of my groomsmen managed to string together one good clean lap following me and barely beat me to the fastest time by a couple tenths. There’s something about karting that just wears you out, and after one session my adrenaline was flowing, my neck, back, and shoulders ached from the quick action. Maybe I’m getting old…

After the karting, we went back to the house to watch my favorite motion picture film, Jurassic Park. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, so we put it on and enjoyed the majesty of such an epic film.

16 bit barcade

For the second leg of our journey, we parked the Nissan and called up an Uber to take us to a bar called “16 Bit”. I’d never been to this one before, but it came highly recommended from my nostalgia-loving perpetual-80s-machine podcast co-host, Cameron. So that’s where we went. The place was pretty awesome. It was just like any other hipster bar in the area with overpriced cans of PBR and shots with quirky names that fit a theme. In addition to all of that, though, was if you were drinking there, you got to play any of their vintage video game cabinets for free. So we all walked around surveying the place and playing some pretty rad games. I played a lot of Burgertime, a bit of Pac Man, some Asteroids, and a couple of fighting games. After a few drinks, we looked up at one of the televisions and Jurassic Park was playing. What a coincidence.

Anyway, while the rest of us were screwing around, my friend James had spent a good amount of time at the Galaga cabinet messing up some 8-bit aliens. By the time we congregated around him, he was already a few dozen levels deep and about to hit a new personal best of somewhere around 300,000 points. Rather than call it a night and go home, we started to work in shifts at the cabinet, rotating out among the five of us. It took a few hours of opportunistic drinking and cheering and rabble rousing, but we eventually maxed out the machine. We scored a million points at Galaga and it was awesome. Well, we would have, but the counter only has 6 digits, and you get points in multiples of 50, so technically we scored 999,950 points. Regardless, it was awesome.


Part 3: The Workaday

Part of my plan, while I was in Ohio, was to just work out of my old office in our Cleveland location so I wouldn’t have to take that many more days off of work. As such, I had to commute back and forth to work, which should be where this car shines. This is what this Nissan was built for. The concrete jungle. The daily grind. It was a mostly highway commute that saw a lot of stop and go traffic. Luckily, the bluetooth system was intuitive and easy to work. My smart phone paired seamlessly with the car, and I was able to even have it read out incoming text messages from my phone so I didn’t have to look at my phone while driving (which I don’t do, and you shouldn’t either). The car came standard with Sirius XM, but I quickly grew bored of that (though there was a pretty rad live session with Death Cab For Cutie on SiriusXMU that I truly enjoyed), and could easily pull up Pandora or Spotify on my phone and play it through the car’s speakers. I love music, but I’m a ‘hipster’ and don’t listen to radio hits. This helped me work around that. Plus, there are plenty of nice places to plug in a USB or a 12v socket, so my phone stayed nice and charged. I even used the bluetooth calling feature a few times, and it was simple and easy to pair my phone and make that work.

As good commutes go, it was a rather uneventful week. Just a back and forth highway slog to get to work. The sunroof helped, especially on the way home. There is just something comforting about wind blowing through your hair and soaking up some sun rays after a long day under the florescents. Another thing I really liked about this car was the “around view” back up camera. Nissan has apparently had this for a few years, and I first saw tech like this in a BMW 5-series about 8 years ago, so that just goes to show how much the average commuter car has caught up to the luxury brands. Speaking of, the Rogue’s cruise control was pretty good, but it wasn’t an adaptive laser-based system like the new luxo cars have. This car is promoted almost primarily on safety features, and that would certainly be a good one to have.


This isn’t a slight against Nissan so much as it is against all automakers, but the nav system is not as simple or intuitive as the world standard Google Maps. Manufacturers need to focus on building cars, and leave the map-based navigation to the heaviest hitter in the business. If all cars can have SiriusXM, why can’t they all have Maps integration?

The fact that I was averaging about 29 miles per gallon over my work week, I’d say this car/truck/SUV/CUV/Crossover does pretty well on fuel. The CVT occasionally felt a bit jerky on sharp application of the accelerator pedal, but it was apparently doing its job keeping the car in the power band so it was more efficient. Well done on that front, Nissan. My Mazda3 is smaller, has a smaller engine with fewer horsepowers, doesn’t have AWD, and weighs a good bit less than this Nissan, but gets far worse fuel economy.

Part 4: The Wedding

On Thursday afternoon, I took off from my little hideaway in Ohio to drive to my parent’s house in South West Michigan near where the wedding was to take place. It was a good long solo road trip, and I was properly exhausted when I got there, but the Nissan was faultless. Even after a long trip like that one, I still felt okay when I arrived, and it fit all of my stuff without issue.


Nissan’s website shows off some weird stuff that you can fit in the back of a Rogue, like this wire frame fox. It looks really cool, so I put it in this article. Right there. Above this paragraph.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything as weird/cool as a wireframe fox, I had boring things like my luggage, gifts for my groomsmen, and some records that I bought at a really cool record shop we found. Yeah, I like vinyl. Remember the part about being a hipster? Yeah, true.

Anyway, the rear hatch area got a lot of use over the wedding weekend. We rented a set of speakers with microphones so everyone could hear us, and so we could play music for the dinner and dancing section of the reception. The Nissan fit a pair of huge speakers and a control board without issue. While carrying things like that, it was quite nice that the rear liftgate was powered (both up and down) and push button operated. That was a nice feature.

Rogue 3

This Nissan was instrumental in ferrying things and groomsmen to and from the wedding venue. It was possibly the perfect car to have for the week as I never asked anything from the car that it couldn’t handle. In fact, I think it was capable of much more than I asked of it.

Rogue 1

As the interior goes, everything was pretty darn good, ergonomically. The door armrest and center console both had nice soft-touch leather, and even the top of the door was soft enough to rest your arm for a good long time. The steering wheel was comfortable and offered good grip. It wasn’t a bad place to sit for a while. Something I like to call “the drive-in test”, is whether or not the seats are as comfortable as movie theater seats. If they’re something you’d prefer to sit in at a drive-in theater over going to a traditional theater. It was, and I would.

ROgue 4

In the end, the Nissan got me and the rest of my crew to the wedding on time while carrying some big heavy stuff. I didn’t mind driving it for 9 days, and I feel like I owe it, and probably Nissan, a big round of applause for playing a bit part in getting me married.


As terrible as the weather was earlier in the week, the wedding day could not have been more beautiful. And of course my bride could not have been more beautiful. It was an amazing day, and I can’t wait to grow old with my lovely Amanda. My life is complete, in part, thanks to Nissan.

Part 5: The Verdict

So it’s comfortable, gets decent fuel mileage for its size, it’s quiet, and it has some pretty cool tech-y gadgets (lane departure notwithstanding). That sounds like most of the good features people look for in a commuter car. There is a reason the Rogue is one of Nissan’s best selling models. It’s good at car-ing. It does car-like-things quite well.

Would I buy one? I’d like to say that I would, but the answer remains no. This is another car that isn’t for me. I don’t have kids, I don’t travel far for work, I don’t really need fancy gadgets (as cool as they may be), and I don’t particularly like the tall driving position that crossovers provide.

The Rogue starts at about $23,000, but this SL spec AWD model was, as-tested, just shy of thirty-three grand. That’s a lot of money, in my eyes. There are many other things that I would rather have for that cash outlay. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you’re wrong if you want one, because it would make an excellent car for some people. I am just not those people. There is obviously a place in the market for a car such as this, but it is not my driveway. Then again, I still have that abysmal Mazda3 hanging out in the driveway, and this would make an excellent replacement for that. Wait, scratch that, Wifey said the Rogue was ‘too big’ for her to drive every day.

[Rear view camera photo from NissanUSA.com because I’m worthless and forgot to snap a pic of it. I also used their photo of ‘wireframe fox’ because it was such  a weird non-sequitor.

Wedding photo taken from Wedding Photographer/Winding Road photo guru Mr. Chris Amos

16 Bit Bar/Arcade and High Voltage Karting photos taken from their respective websites

All other photos ©2015 Hooniverse/Bradley C. Brownell, All Rights Reserved.]

  • PotbellyJoe★★★★★

    Congratudolences on the marriage.

    I love my wife and my kids to a deepness I never thought was possible, but after next week they stay on vacation an extra 2 weeks while I return home to work. That’s when my vacation starts, haha. It’s amazing, we will hit 8 years this year, but there are still moments when my love for her takes my breath away.

    May you live long and happy lives together.

    As for the Nissan, i have a co-worker who owns one. I can’t see an advantage it would have over a CR-V or Escape. It’s a good car, but the Escape is equally good while being a little cheaper and frugal without a CVT, while the CR-V is the class benchmark for a reason. It’s one of the rare times in the automotive field where the best is also the best seller.

    • Bradley Brownell

      No condolences necessary, but I’ll accept your congratulations. We’ve been together since high school. If I didn’t truly love her, we would have split long before now. She’s my best friend, and I am happy to see her every single day. We share a lot of hobbies and do a lot of things together. I would be depressed as heck if I had to go two weeks home alone.

      I’ve not got a lot of experience in the mid-sized crossover market, so I unfortunately had to take the Nissan at face value without any apples-to-apples comparisons. I know that the first-gen Escape sucked, so it’s a good thing they’ve improved it.

      I liked the Nissan. It’s good at stuff.

      • PotbellyJoe★★★★★

        The portmanteau is obviously tongue-in-cheek. It’s what I wish all of my friends when they get married.

        As for the vacation, I felt the same way as you for the beginning of the marriage. Then I bought a house and realized how much more I can accomplish on the “honey-do” list when i don’t have 8 additional feet following me around.

        It’s not cold or negative towards them, I genuinely miss them during the 2 weeks, but it’s nice to have a reset button occasionally. It’s not selfish to get alone time if it makes you a better partner when you’re together.

        Again, I wish you many happy years together.

        • Bradley Brownell

          No, I got the joke. I didn’t mean that as a slight against you, and I understand the need for alone time. Luckily I have a nice secluded office in which I can get my writing done, and we travel separately a lot. Last time she was gone, I just sat around the house and got even less done than normal. It’s weird.

          • dead_elvis

            First off, congrats! You’re a lucky man who recognizes just how.

            Secondly, this conversation is yet another example of why we NEED a sarcasm or joke font on the internet.

  • Congratulations. May you have many happy drives off into the sunset.

    • Bradley Brownell

      Thanks. Put my wife and I down for a D-wing GT drive when it launches? You know, as a wedding gift?

      • Sounds like you two are in for the long haul.

        • Bradley Brownell

          Literally the funniest thing I’ve ever read in my entire life.

          Three cheers for Skitter.

          How about a weekend borrowing an Abruzzi?

          • That will happen about the same time I get a weekend in the GTR1, so we’ll have to make it a comparison test.

  • Congratulations! You realize, of course, you’ve now set yourself up to receive a wireframe fox in this year’s Hooniversal Secret Ninja-Claus exchange, or at least a small roll of chicken wire as a do-it-yourself kit.

    • Bradley Brownell

      I ACCEPT!

  • 0A5599

    Congratulations. Maxing out the scoreboard on Galaga is quite impressive.

    I’m a bit puzzled by the title of your “Getting Hitched Review”. I didn’t see a single mention of towing anything, and from the side view, the Rogue does not appear to be properly equipped for a trailer.

    And mazel tov on getting to grow old with Amanda, though it sounds like you’ve already been doing that for more than a decade.

    • Bradley Brownell

      High School sweethearts. We haven’t been able to afford a wedding until now, so we’ve been trudging along as perpetually engaged until now. Thank you.

      Interestingly, the maximum towing capacity of the Rogue is 1000 pounds, per Nissan.

      • 0A5599

        If you can afford the wedding AND got the girl, it sounds like you are doing at least two things right.

  • 1977ChevyTruck


    You got married to the love of your life, got to review cars for free, and got to become an internet “celebrity” by writing all about it?

    Sounds like your month was little more interesting than mine…

    • dead_elvis

      The ellipsis makes me think you want to tell us a story.

      (Channel longrooffan for your telling. The man can spin a yarn – if his name’s on the article, I’m settling in for a good read.)

      • 1977ChevyTruck

        Well, this young ChevyTruck, after learning, and being tested, more learning, more testing, has finally reached the period of final testing (for this year, anyways…). Tomorrow I am free!

        For now though, I am wishin, and hopin’ and prayin’!

        • dead_elvis

          Congrats, man! I’m a little bit envious – that freeing sense of the entire summer ahead, full of possibilities yet to be discovered, is one I always relished.