Winter has finally started to recede here in New England, but that doesn’t mean practical vehicles are going anywhere. John “Bugsy” Lawlor and our friends at NEMPA were kind enough to have us down for a look at some great crossovers for 2015, and as always, we’re thrilled to let you know what we think.
Nissan’s been an inspired contributor to the crossover market ever since the Murano debuted in 2003. Its three current mainstays—the Murano, Rogue, and Juke—all offer above-average driving dynamics, comfortable interiors, and funky good looks. We had the good fortune to have a closer look at all three and took the 2015 Rogue out for a spin.
One of the key selling points in this segment is the functionality of an SUV without the loss of a car’s agility and ride. The Juke’s been a standout in the small crossover segment for a few years now thanks to its excellence in these respects. Not only does it provide a uniquely quirky look, it also provides an exciting drive and the convenience of a hatchback. We greatly appreciate the availability of a manual transmission and the utility of all-wheel drive; we only wish the two weren’t mutually exclusive in the Juke. The model on hand was a fantastic Solar Yellow, and while we didn’t get a chance to drive it, it’s safe to say you’ll never lose this one, no matter how crowded the parking lot gets.
In 2015, as in previous years, the Nissan Rogue slots in between the Juke and Murano. The Rogue plays in a pretty tough sandbox, competing against the likes of the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape, and Subaru Forester (among others). However, Nissan’s done a pretty good job with this year’s model. Having been re-designed in 2014, the Rogue has a fantastic, refined exterior to pair with a comfortable interior. Our car was an SV AWD trim and, despite a relatively lackluster 170-hp powerplant, it still managed to deliver an engaging ride. Furthermore, EPA estimates on the Rogue put its fuel economy numbers at a respectable 25 mpg city/32 highway/28 combined.
The 2015 Rogue has an interesting range of utility. That peak 32 mpg highway looks even better when you consider that this car can hold up to 70 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seats down, and its AWD powertrain allows it to get places that 2-wheel drive vehicles simply can’t. It also provides an extremely surprising 7-passenger option with it’s available 2-passenger third-row seat. That being said, while we didn’t have a 7-passenger configuration, we couldn’t possibly envision this leaving much room for cargo. Assuming you’re not transporting the Brady bunch, however, this little SUV offers an incredible balance of space and fuel economy.
At the top of the heap, you’ll find the Nissan Murano. Specifically, we received some hands-on experience with the Platinum trim. Once you get past the brilliant Pacific Sunset color, the most notable exterior feature is its 20-inch, machine-finished aluminum-alloy wheels. Seriously, staring at these wheels is like looking downward into a running garbage disposal; they’re over the top.
On the inside, it’s hard to find much to dislike about the Murano. The Zero Gravity Seats, in particular, are extremely comfortable, and it was clear as soon as we sat down that these would keep us comfortable no matter how many hours we sat behind the wheel. Nissan explains that these use NASA-developed technology to relieve pressure, and best of all, they’re used in both the front and rear of the vehicle.
Of course, the Murano wasn’t quite faultless. We noticed that the C-pillars create sizable blind spots, proving that its aggressive design does have some shortcomings. Granted, the Platinum Murano does come standard with blind-spot warning and Nissan’s nifty Around-View Monitor with Object Detection, but we still feel a bit more secure when we don’t have to rely on beeps and images on a touchscreen to avoid hazards.
Overall, Nissan provides a stylish and capable range of crossovers. While this isn’t exactly news, it still shouldn’t be overlooked. If you’re interested in a comfortable, fuel efficient, AWD vehicle, the Juke, Rogue, and Murano definitely deserve a look. Especially if they’re painted Solar Yellow.
Which Nissan crossover would you buy? Which color?
Shopping for a crossover this weekend?
Bring along CarGurus’ mobile app to help check prices, find good deals, and research cars on your smartphone.