Auto123 reviews the 2022 Nissan Rogue with new 3-cylinder turbo engine.
Revamped in the midst of a pandemic, the new-generation Nissan Rogue made an overall successful market debut, this even though sales figures dropped compared to pre-Covid days. While the Rogue's new look might not have been to everyone’s liking, most agreed the SUV is at least less anonymous since its much-needed redesign. Perhaps more importantly, the overhaul has meant notable improvements for the Rogue in terms of quality, on several levels.
At the same time, the carried-over powertrain of the revised Rogue may have come to be seen as a weak link by the Nissan powers that be. Especially since those powers have made a real commitment to electrifying the brand’s lineup. Plus, Nissan is also looking to push that variable compression ratio technology first introduced under the hood of the Infiniti QX50 in 2018. Since then, the company’s 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine has been fitted into the Altima sedan, although only in the U.S.
Good things come in threes
In the compact SUV category, standing still can mean death. And so, the 2022 model-year brings this new VC-TURBO 3-cylinder engine to all of the Rogue’s trims, except for the entry-level S model... with two- or four-wheel drive! That more-affordable S model continues on with the "old" 2.5L engine. The others are now equipped with the 1.5L 3-cylinder turbocharged unit; essentially, it’s the 4-cylinder 2.0L turbo job of the Infiniti QX50, but with a cylinder pried out of it.
But was this injection of power and frugality necessary? That was the question we sought the answer to.
Lose a cylinder, gain a turbocharger
The new 3-cylinder turbo is the big new item in the 2022 Rogue, of course. It delivers 201 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque, for increases of 11 and 24 percent, respectively, over the naturally aspirated unit. To be clear, these figures are more in line with the power standards of the category.
The engine is still paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), but here it’s been reworked for “better acceleration feel” and “increased fuel economy”, according to Nissan.
In short, the new engine is more dynamic, even as it consumes less fuel; that's basically the mission of this new powertrain. Win-win for the consumer.
About that fuel economy. According to Canadian EnerGuide, the combined average for this four-wheel-drive Rogue is 7.7L/100 km; the heavier Platinum trim adds 0.1L/100 km to the figure.
For my part, my best result was 8.8L/100 km after a mix of city driving and a single, longish highway trip, during which I took care not to exceed 120 km/h. Now, it's true that if you put the vehicle in Sport mode and drive aggressively, you’ll easily rack up in excess of 11L/100 km. But then again, most users aren’t likely to behave that way at the wheel of the Nissan Rogue, an SUV that favors smoothness over tire-squealing and pedal-to-the-metal histrionics.
Still, is this a sportier Rogue?
Unsurprisingly, this new powertrain is good for the Rogue, which has never been known for its sporty handling. Strong acceleration used to be accompanied by painful complaints from the 4-cylinder, the steering was lightweight and a tad imprecise, and the suspension settings bring to mind the Buick name for some reason, if you catch my drift.
Here, you can feel the power gain immediately, first of all as the Rogue gets off the mark more quickly. The elastic effect of the CVT, however, is still present. In fact, this characteristic of the vehicle makes you let go of the right pedal more quickly when the effect reaches its peak and you realize the speed you’ve reached.
It's worth mentioning that the sound of the engine is nothing like that of a normally aspirated 4-cylinder. The Nissan 3-cylinder roars when you start it, it roars even more when you push the right pedal, and it goes positively ballistic if you attempt an aggressive passing manoeuvre on the highway.
Speaking of which, it’s also clear that despite the gains under the hood, you still have to plan your highway passes; the transmission takes a good second and a half to find the right engine speed to propel the vehicle forward.
Nissan did include paddle shifters, even though there are no “gears” in a continuously variable transmission. But, be aware that they don't really improve the level of driving pleasure. A keen ear will detect “pseudo-shifts” during sustained acceleration, but they're nothing like those of the recent Pathfinder, for example, the midsize SUV that swapped its CVT for a 9-speed automatic transmission as part of its own redesign.