The European version of the Nissan Rogue, the X-Trail, has finally launched. It's virtually identical to the SUV we get, with two exceptions: A third-row seat is offered, and there are hybrid powertrains. The latter is what has us particularly intrigued, since we have a single (and admittedly good) engine choice in America, a turbo three-cylinder. It's a very good engine, but with the rapidly growth of hybrid offerings in the compact SUV segment, we think Nissan should plan on bringing these hybrid options to America.
The ones we're interested in are the "e-POWER" hybrids. These are simply series-hybrid powertrains where the internal combustion engine produces electricity, and electric motors propel the car. The base option is front-wheel drive with a single 201-horsepower front motor and a version of the turbo three-cylinder variable compression engine found in the American Rogue. Optionally available is an all-wheel-drive version, referred to as e-4ORCE, that adds a 126-horsepower motor to the rear, though combined power is 211 horsepower. That dual-motor setup enables all-wheel drive without having to have any sort of transfer case or rear driveshaft, and it also allows for quickly and widely adjustable power distribution front to rear. There's a mild-hybrid assist powertrain that relies on a detuned version of the turbo three-cylinder, but being less powerful and likely not majorly more efficient than the powertrain available in the U.S., we don't see much reason for Nissan to offer it.
The main reason we think Nissan should plan on bringing these powertrains to America is simply that it needs to keep up with the competition. Toyota, Honda, Ford, Hyundai and Kia all are offering hybrids in the U.S., and many are even offering plug-in hybrid versions. Not having such an option will be a real hindrance. These e-POWER powertrains also sound quite competitive with good electric power and a proven engine. And seeing as the X-Trail and Rogue are virtually identical, and use an engine that is U.S. emissions-certified, it seems like adding it would be a smart move. The Rogue's U.S.-market twin, the Mitsubishi Outlander, is also slated to get a plug-in hybrid powertrain, which we would imagine is closely related to the X-Trail's system, so it seems like a no-brainer, especially if it were to launch in the next model year. So while Nissan hasn't said anything, it would be crazy if they didn't offer a Rogue hybrid here.
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