We tested the 2019 Nissan Rogue SL-AWD in a typical New England winter storm – Here’s how it performed.
Driving off in the new 2019 Nissan Rogue SL-AWD during a winter snow storm trending to ice, one thought kept crossing the mind of your tester. “I should have Blizzaks for this.” Yet, in the name of research, I left the family Forester shod with Blizzaks cozy in its garage and went out into an ice storm in the Rogue on its all-season tires. “Full send,” as the saying goes.
Rogue Winter Weather Gear
The Rogue SL-AWD has four winter weather features we think every winter vehicle should have. Listed in color-coded clarity in the image above, the first three are a heated steering wheel, AWD with a manual LOCK function, and an ECO button. The heated steering wheel is a safety feature. When white-knuckling a crossover through an ice storm, having all the sensation you can from the steering wheel is helpful, and gloves work against you. It also feels nice to have warm hands.
Next up is the AWD LOCK. This is great when you’re in slippery conditions like snow or ice, and want to direct power to all four wheels. (All-Wheel Drive isn’t, in fact, driving all four wheels at any given time. AWD LOCK makes that happen).
The ECO button works in the same way that most “winter mode” settings do. It reduces power and torque and helps you get moving without slip. Sometimes we like to slip a bit and if you feel naughty hit the “traction control off” button (top left, which shows the vehicle in a skid). Just don’t blame us when you are sorting out deductibles with your agent after the crash.
Heated seats are also a must. The Rogue’s are toasty warm. And they stay on until you shut them off. Not all seat heaters do that. These winter weather features in combination are a big deal if you live, like we do, where it can snow from September to April.
Rogue Snow and Ice Performance
So how did the Rogue handle a big sloppy mess of a winter storm in New England? Brilliantly. We moved the Rogue around in about five inches of unplowed snow crusted over with about a quarter inch of ice with zero difficulties. That included reverse. The AWD system in the Rogue will not let you get stuck in any normal on-road winter commute.
However, getting started is only half of the battle. Turning and stopping are two of our favorite things to do in a car. On side roads, the Rogue and its all-season tires were impressive. The roads were covered with a snow/ice/grime emulsification that made the roads pretty slippery. Still, we were able to adjust our speeds and manage just fine in turns.
Stopping distances definitely get longer with winter conditions, but the Rogue always felt predictable after a few test stops. You’ll shorten those stopping distances considerably with appropriate winter tires. AWD simply does not help to stop the vehicle.
During our drive, the active safety and driver aids were disabled by caked-on ice. Just one more reminder that autonomous vehicles are going to be pricey to produce. The inexpensive and easy to use sensors can’t handle winter.
The Rogue wears Bridgestone Ecopia all-season tires. We like to think of these as “three-season” tires at BestRide, but the fact is that most folks don’t use winter tires. They just keep the all-seasons in duty all winter. We will admit that the Ecopias performed admirably. Not the best winter condition tires we have tested, but they certainly were not the worst.
Tire Rack provides a winter rating of 4.8 or “Fair” for these tires, based on 83 customer reviews by mid-January of 2018.
Our tested had less than 5,000 miles on the odometer and the temps were about 20F while we did the majority of our storm testing. So the tires were new and the temps relatively moderate. As the tires lose tread and the temps go lower we would not expect that same performance.
Winter tires would add another level of security for those drivers who have to go no matter what the weather conditions are, but as it is delivered we give the Rogue two thumbs up as a winter vehicle.