NewsArts & Culture / December 2, 2016

Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape Polished For 2017

Looking for a new compact crossover? WFYI auto correspondent Casey Williams brings you a couple of great choices – both updated versions of America’s best-selling models.auto, Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue2016-12-02T00:00:00-05:00
Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape Polished For 2017

Looking for a new compact crossover?  We bring you a couple of great choices – both updated versions of some America’s best-selling models.  Nissan Rogue was significantly updated for 2017 to be quieter and more efficient while the venerable Ford Escape proves it’s still in the game.  See which you like.

2017 Nissan Rogue Adds Glitz And Green

I was completely baffled when the first-generation Nissan Rogue raced up the sales charts to become one of the best-selling compact crossovers.  It buzzed like your sleeping mother, contained more cheap plastic than a discount toy store, and steered as assuredly as a sinking rowboat.  Then, the second-generation came along to fix those foibles.  More glitz and green for 2017 makes it even better.

Pretty Body

Let’s start with the obvious:  It’s a lot prettier to look at.  A bolder version of Nissan’s V-Motion grille with chrome detailing adorns the front while available 19-inch wheels (17-inch on our SV edition) pump up the jam.  Signature LED driving lights, LED turn signals, and roof rails glitz it up.  Chiseled sheetmetal looks handsome.  It’s much more exciting than the frump party it exited.

You can get contrasting color leather, but our test car came with beige cloth seats.  It’s OK – they’re heated and slide under a D-shaped heated leather-wrapped steering wheel that’s new for 2017.  You can also get three-row seating, but ours traded for underfloor storage.  Tune in with the 6-speaker audio system connected to USB and Bluetooth.  Navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry, and push button starting add convenience.  Open the rear hatch by swiping your foot.

Technology is accessed via voice or touchscreen.  Large volume and tuning knobs are easy to use – as are the beefy climate controls.  Safety is enhanced by Nissan’s Around View Monitor, which provides a bird’s eye view, blind spot warning, and rear cross traffic alert.  Step up to higher trim levels for Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Prevention, and Intelligent Cruise Control. 

Smooth Power

Wait until you get on it.  Step in for a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that ushers out 170 horsepower and connects through a smooth continuously-variable transmission.  An Eco mode optimizes the powertrain and climate control to conserve fossils.  All of this enables fuel economy ratings of 25/32-MPG city/hwy.

And, if that’s not efficient enough for you, go for the greener hybrid that delivers 176 horsepower and 33/35-MPG city/hwy.  I drove the hybrid on hilly and curvy roads outside of Atlanta last October, and while I wouldn’t recommend racing around farm trucks on challenging two-lanes, there’s plenty of smooth power to rush up to speed entering highways or just slipping around town.

Beyond the powertrains, the Rogue is a nice drive.  The four-wheel independent suspension soaks up rough pavement like a thick rubber sponge while giving the crossover relatively athletic handling through sweeping on-ramps.  I’ve driven the new Rogue hundreds of miles and it always provided a refined ride.

Nissan’s initial plans for going Rogue were sadly under-developed.  But, that little crossover set them up for the current generation, with a little freshening for 2017, to be a real leader in its class.  A base price of $23,820 - $29,095 as tested - makes it formidable competition for the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape, Jeep Compass, and Hyundai Tucson.

Meet The Updated $35,000 Ford Escape

Ever wonder what a $35,000 Ford compact crossover looks like?  Well, get a load of the Escape Titanium.  After you pick yourself up off the driveway, read the rest of this review.  It’s loaded from sill to sunroof with every comfort and safety gizmo you’d expect at that price and much more.

Upscale Design

In daylight, it looks like any other Escape with upscale design.  The large grille is a take on the Edge’s while the rest of the high wagon profile looks like it was shaped in a European wind tunnel.  The upturned rear windowline is becoming trite, but it’s at least handsome alongside gleaming roof rails and 18” alloys.  Identify it at night by its LED signature running lamps, LED taillights, and foglamps.  A little extra silver trim speaks Titanium.

Serious coin gets you a seriously luxurious interior with heated leather seats, heated steering wheel, and 10-speaker Sony audio system make it worth the effort.  Ambient lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a panoramic vista roof confirm you’re in a very nice cabin.  Plug in with a 110v household outlet.

Ford’s SYNC infotainment system lets passengers access their iThings via touchscreen, voice, or joywheel - connected through USB and Bluetooth.  There’s also navigation and push button starting to ease the drive.  Safety is enhanced by adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, forward collision alert, and blind spot warning.  A rearview camera and semi-autonomous parallel parking system put it in the tightest city spaces.

EcoBoost Parade

Moving this parade of sophistication is a 1.5-liter Ecoboost four-cylinder engine easing out 179 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque.  It’s connected to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.  Auto stop/start contributes to relatively frugal 23/30-MPG city/hwy, but it’s so annoying that I reached for the disable button every time I got in.  At least capless filling shortens refueling stops.

Escape shares architecture with the compact Focus and hybrid C-MAX, handling like a tall European compact.  In other words, it’s athletic enough to enjoy on a weekend romp down two-lanes, but comfortable enough for long-distance highway runs.  It could be buttoned up a little tighter on rough roads, but most drivers will find it has a good balance of comfort and sport.

Ford’s biggest problem is competitors.  The excellent Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4, and all-new Honda CR-V are sure to give it grief – as will the all-new Chevy Equinox and Jeep Compass.  Kill the annoying stop/start system, simplify the infotainment system, and give rear passengers a little more space.  Then, Ford will have a crossover fully up to its price.

And, about that price.  A base Escape goes for just $23,600, but all-in, our Titanium edition – with all of the safety and comfort gear - retails for $34,875.  At that price, you can get a base Mercedes-Benz GLA or BMW X1.  A few coins more puts you in the Escape-based Lincoln MKC.  But, none will be better equipped.

Storm Forward!

Watch Casey’s video review of the Nissan Rogue; follow him on YouTube and Twitter:  @AutoCasey.

 

2017 Nissan Rogue SV

  • Five-passenger, AWD Crossover
  • Powertrain: 170hp 2.5-liter I4, CVT auto trans
  • Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
  • Wheels f/r: 17”/17” alloy
  • Brakes f/r: disc/disc
  • Must-have features: Style, Handling
  • Fuel economy: 25/32 mpg city/hwy
  • Assembly: Smyrna, TN
  • Base/as-tested price: $23,820/29,095  

 

2017 Ford Escape Titanium

  • Five-passenger, FWD Crossover
  • Powertrain: 179hp 1.5-liter Turbo-4, 6-speed auto trans
  • Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
  • Wheels f/r: 17”/17” alloy
  • Brakes f/r: disc/disc
  • Must-have features: Safety, Fuel economy: 23/30 mpg city/hwy
  • Assembly: Louisville, KY
  • Base/as-tested price: $23,600/34,875

 

 

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