Many hunters perceive a Western hunting vehicle as a tall four-wheel-drive pickup that will tackle monster mountains and deep-timber terrain, yet I’ve learned over the years that a quality SUV or crossover can access some of the best Western elk herds. Why? How? Fire access. Because western timber resources are so at-risk to fire danger, many (if not most) public land access roads throughout the West are managed for the quick deployment of resources. A vehicle with moderate ground clearance and all wheel drive will handle the job nicely.
For the past three years I’ve tested Nissan products in hunting situations and put the much-advertised Rogue SV AWD to the test on this year’s Wyoming elk hunt. I’m not a technical writer for automotive magazines, but I know if a vehicle will get the job done. I found the Rogue to be surprisingly versatile.
First, I was surprised to find that the crossover had three-row seating. I was traveling alone, yet for the person looking to gain hunting access and take the family along, the third row option is a huge advantage, especially when siblings need space.
I drove 400 miles from Boise to the Star Valley region of Wyoming and despite the 80 mph speed limit (honest) got 23.9 mpg, twice the mileage of a big 4×4 rig, and mileage that would surely increase at more reasonable speeds. For a person who must balance outdoor ambitions with the reality of a family, this rig has lots of room and comfort, plus the back seats slide forward for easy gear access without lifting the hatch.
Safety is a huge concern when purchasing a vehicle and I found the Rogue to handle very well at speeds far greater than I normally drive. On one occasion, I was driving the speed limit (80 mph) in the fast lane when a large whitetail doe appeared directly in front of me. It had been killed by a previous vehicle, yet I had to act fast. With traffic to my right, I couldn’t dodge the deer, but slowed as much as possible to straddled it. The undercarriage touched the dead animal, yet I was able to maintain control with no seeming damage to the car. I hated to see the dead whitetail in the roadway, but was glad the Rogue had helped me through a dangerous situation.
This Rogue SV AWD had the SV Premium Package, which included things like Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warnings, and Moving Object Detection, along with a very easy-to-use-navigation system. This was my first experience with the warning systems and they often “nudged” me into being a more alert driver with subtle beeps as I crossed a line. I’m very conscious of drivers behind me and the Blind Spot Warning wasn’t needed, but it’s a great safety addition. The Rogue had a most unique back-up monitor that gave me an “aerial view” of my vehicle and surrounding objects. I had to back the Nissan tightly between two trees and past several rocks to get close to the tent, and the back-up displayed showed the car’s position relative to each object. It was like having a GoPro camera in the tree above me.
Our camp consisted of two Turbo-Tents and a cook tent. I used the Rogue in a unique capacity that will work with any vehicle in camp. At the end of each day, instead of storing gear in my tent or hanging it outside, I used the hatch of the Rogue to keep things organized. In this way, I ended each hunting day with all of my gear in one place and knew exactly where it was the next morning. In hunting camps with multiple participants, gear is easy to mix up. Stashing things in the Rogue helped keep me prepped and organized.
In general, the Rogue proved to be a reliable and capable hunting partner. With great gas mileage, it’s economical to drive, carries the whole family or hunting party, and its AWD gets you into the back country, even through the mountains of the West. I loved it! For full details of the Rogue go to nissanUSA.com.