Why does the Nissan Rogue look like it has a full diaper?
I haven’t been a huge fan of Nissan’s swoopy current design language, which tends to get a bit baroque in the details (see the latest Maxima and Murano in particular), but the midsize Rogue crossover has been one of the company’s cleaner, more handsome designs since its 2014 redo. Good thing, too, since it’s also been massively popular—continuing the model’s trend of steadily rising sales, March 2017 sales were up 143% compared to the same month last year, a year in which 329,904 new Rogues hit U.S. roads.
That’s a lot of Rogues sitting in traffic, and whenever I find myself sitting there behind one, I cringe. For it is in sitting behind a Rogue that the fatal flaw of its design emerges: it looks like it has a full diaper.
Now, I’m not saying it simply has a big butt; that’s common enough in modern car styling, and some folks like big butts, for which I will not judge them. No, the Rogue’s rear end isn’t merely voluptuous. The problem is all in where it’s carrying its extra avoirdupois—down low, baby.
Take a look at that header image up there, of that Monarch Orange 2017 Rogue. Look how much narrower it is at the top than at the bottom. It’s normal for a car body to be at its thickest right around the middle, between the beltline and the rockers, but not the Rogue’s rear. Nope, that taper keeps on flaring out as it gets lower, reaching its widest visual point mid-bumper, where it’s accentuated by a couple of horizontal creases. In fact, the Rogue’s 2017 mid-cycle freshening has made the problem even worse, adding a peculiar vertical edge where these creases meet the sides of the car that make this area look even wider from dead astern.
It’s even more apparent in real life than it is in pictures. Next time you’re behind a Rogue, especially from the vantage point of a car that sits slightly lower, look at the tailgate. It, too, seems to be at its widest near the bottom, furthering the unflattering visual trickery.
Why did Nissan’s designers give the Rogue such a dumpy rump? I have no idea. To make room for the Rogue’s vestigial third-row seats? Aerodynamic reasons? Let’s hope there’s some rational explanation for this, because it bugs me way more than anything about such an innocuous car should.