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