The Nissan Rogue is a competitive enough vehicle in a very competitive class, with decent steering feel, good ride quality, and sufficient power from the 2.5-liter four-cylinder, even if the continuously variable automatic transmission drones a bit much. Our test car was light blue over a gray interior, which was a somewhat somber combination. The instrument panel and center stack are also kind of drab, especially compared with the Nissan Altima coupe. At least the center stack contains a decent, small-format navigation screen. But the buttons for volume and tuning are small and fussy. There’s an aura of cheapness about the radio faceplate, although the sound quality from the Bose stereo is very good. There’s also a huge glove compartment. It consists not of a bin that flips down, but of a door that flips down to expose a huge cavity with a flat floor.
The rear-seat area is also pretty roomy. I sat behind myself and had plenty of room in the rear seat, but I wished for a fold-down center armrest there.
The biggest problem with this $30K Rogue is the fully loaded Kia Sportage that you could get for the same money that’s far more attractive both inside and out. And if you’re looking for a crossover that’s a little more cheeky, although not as big as the Rogue, check out the new Nissan Juke.
– Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
I’m still waiting for Nissan’s magic touch with niche cars to trickle into its mainstream cars. That certainly hasn’t happened yet for the Rogue, which is a pretty milquetoast affair. A watered-down version of the bigger Nissan Murano’s seven-year-old shape wraps around a mostly hard-plastic interior. Like Joe, I was particularly unimpressed with the functional but cheap-looking radio. Would it really break Nissan’s to offer a head unit similar to what’s in its higher-end cars? On a more fundamental level, can’t the designers who dreamed up the Nissan Cube and Juke inject a bit of personality into this offering? That’s precisely what Kia has done with the Sportage, which translates some of the best elements of the funky Soul into a more broadly appealing package.
Personality issues aside, there’s not anything wrong with the Rogue. I found it effortless to drive both in town and on the highway, with decent power and quick but not twitchy steering. Yes, the CVT stinks, but the average driver likely won’t be flooring the gas pedal enough to really take issue with the shop-vac like engine noise.
– David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
It’s funny, I remember driving a 2010 Rogue last summer and thinking that it was a pretty smart choice for someone looking to buy a smallish crossover at a reasonable price. So I figured I’d think the same about this new 2011 model. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the price and saw that it’s nudging right up against the $30,000 mark. So, what is it on this vehicle that’s worth an extra $6000 over the previous Rogue we tested?
First and most obvious, the SL package, which costs almost $4000 and includes leather upholstery, the nav system, 18-inch wheels, and XM satellite radio, among other things. The other $2000 can likely be chalked up to the fact that this is an SV model (the previous Rogue we tested was the base S model.
Like with last year’s model, I still feel that the Rogue fits me perfectly. I like the fact that the Rogue has a high seating position and a not too high step-in height. And all-wheel drive is always nice when the weather is crappy, as it is right now in Michigan. However, at close to $30,000 it’s not quite as attractive a proposition as it is at about $24,000.
– Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
Base price (with destination): $25,270
Price as tested: $29,430
2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine
Xtronic CVT transmission
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Vehicle dynamic control
Traction control system
Tire pressure monitoring system
60/40 split rear seat
Manual tilt steering column
Cruise control with steering wheel control
Steering wheel-mounted audio controls
6-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system
XM satellite radio
Auxiliary/USB audio input
Nissan intelligent keyless entry system
Options on this vehicle:
SL package — $3850
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Heated front seats and outside mirrors
Automatic climate control
Navigation system with 5-inch touch screen
XM satellite radio with NavTraffic
Bose premium audio system
7 speakers and subwoofer
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
Power sliding glass sunroof
Automatic on/off headlights
HID Xenon headlights
18-inch alloy wheels
All-wheel drive — $1250
Floor mats & cargo area protector — $185
Splash guards — $125
Key options not on vehicle:
Fuel economy: 22/26/24 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 2.5L DOHC I-4
Horsepower: 170 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 175 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Curb weight: 3479 lb
Wheels/tires: 18 x 7.0-inch alloy wheels; 225/55R18 Dunlop SP Sport 7000 all-season tires