2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid: better prospects than Pathfinder, Murano for small hybrid SUV?

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As predicted several years ago by a now-departed member of the Nissan product team, the third of three hybrid SUVs has rolled out.

The 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid is the smallest of the three, and the company seems to be somewhat more optimistic about its prospects.

Last year's 2016 Murano Hybrid rolled into the market almost unnoticed, and Nissan North America confirmed that it expected to deliver only 600 to 650 of them.

DON'T MISS: All-wheel-drive hybrid cars, SUVs: why are there so few?

Before that, the first one was the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid, a one-year model whose sales the company refused to release.

But a more powerful hybrid system in a smaller vehicle could take the hybrid Rogue compact crossover out of the "mild-hybrid" ghetto its two predecessors fell into.

Its powertrain is slightly different from those in the ill-fated 2014 Pathfinder Hybrid and rare 2016 Murano Hybrid.

2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

The Rogue Hybrid employs a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine (smaller than the 2.5-liter in the first two) paired with a more powerful electric motor: 30 kilowatts (40 horsepower) rather than the 15-kw (20-hp) unit used previously. 

According to Dan Passe, a spokesman for Nissan, the Rogue Hybrid can accelerate up to 25 mph on electric power alone.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Kia Niro hybrid SUV: are electric, AWD versions in the works?

That takes it out of the mild-hybrid category, essentially less powerful systems that only assist the gasoline engine and cannot provide any acceleration on electric power only.

The updated hybrid system will also drop into electric-only mode under light loads or as the car coasts at speeds as high as 75 mph, Passe said.

Asked if the Murano Hybrid figure of 600 to 650 units a year applied to the latest hybrid, Passe wrote, "We cannot comment on sales expectations, other than to say that there is market interest in the vehicle—and we look forward to satisfying this interest."

2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

 

For eight years, the Ford Escape Hybrid was the sole high-volume hybrid crossover utility. Roughly half of all Escape Hybrids were sold with all-wheel drive, according to Ford.

After the 2012 model year, that niche went unfilled as Ford switched its hybrid system to the C-Max compact hatchback, which didn't offer all-wheel drive.

The 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid was the first replacement, and it has sold thousands of units a month, far outpacing the Prius V wagon that it effectively replaces in the Toyota lineup.

CHECK OUT: 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: Gas Mileage Review

So the "market interest" that Passe identifies is likely there; many compact crossover buyers still prefer to opt for the highest-possible gas mileage in their new vehicle.

Thus far, no EPA ratings have been issued for the 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid.

The hybrid Rogue will go on sale by the end of this year, and Nissan says that it will be rolled out across the country, starting with the western half of the U.S.

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