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CUV HITS SWEET SPOT: Nissan’s 2018 Rogue belies its name with a pleasant demeanor, comfy cabin, available cutting-edge driver-assist tech

Can you guess what Nissan’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S. is? If you guessed the Altima sedan, as ubiquitous as it is, you haven’t been paying close enough attention as you motor about.

Because it’s hard to drive more than a couple of blocks without seeing one or more of Nissan’s compact crossover, the Rogue. They’re everywhere!

Sales are phenomenal: Nissan moved more than 400,000 of ’em in 2017, surpassed in crossover-land only by Toyota’s RAV-4 – just barely.

A somewhat latecomer to the SUV/CUV craze, Nissan’s really making up for lost time. What is it that buyers find so attractive? First of all, it’s quite handsome (although demerits for the bucktooth grille). And it’s quite roomy, with plenty of leg and shoulder room for five. Likewise, cargo area is abundant.

The seating is excellent, with well-shaped, plush-feeling buckets up front and a surprisingly comfortable bench in the back. The cabin is fitted with fine-quality materials presented in an attractive design.

Our model-topping SL AWD reached near-luxury levels thanks in part to its Platinum Reserve interior package highlighted by premium tan-leather seat upholstery with special quilted leather inserts.

New for 2018 is the SL’s revised Platinum Package featuring ProPILOT, Nissan’s “hands-on” driver assist system. Not quite yet a self-driving feature, ProPilot Assist can brake and accelerate in stop-and-go traffic, maintain highway speeds and hold a set distance from the vehicle in front of you; and keep the vehicle centered in a lane (as long as it’s well-marked). Safety and convenience at the touch of a button.

Under way, the Rogue raises a couple of issues. One, the CUV’s 3,660-pound weight puts a burden on the 2.5-liter engine’s 170 horses. Its acceleration is merely adequate, and the paucity of power is exacerbated by the continuously variable automatic transmission. While Nissan was an early adherent of CVTs, it seems other users – Subaru, for example – have made greater strides in eliminating the rubber-bandy, power-sucking sensations and noisy high-rev responses earlier versions exhibited.

The Rogue’s highway ride is commendably smooth and quiet, but there’s a fair amount of body lean through corners – sporty it’s not.

Still, driven responsibly, the Rogue hits the sweet spot for a pleasant and comfortable family transporter. Its sales affirm lots of buyers feel the same way.

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