The small SUV category continues to heat up, with an array of fresh models. The latest is the 2014 Nissan Rogue, an overdue replacement that shows much promise.
While the redesigned Rogue, which we recently bought, has a carryover powertrain (a 2.5-liter four cylinder mated to a CVT), it does offer more interior space, better visibility, and a much more solid appeal than its dowdy predecessor. The "old" model is still sold as the renamed "Rogue Select.
A key distinguishing feature, at least in marketing materials, is an available third-row seat. It sounds great in theory, but third rows tend to be compromised in such small vehicles. We didn’t buy it—and don’t think many people will. Beyond the tight quarters, we skipped this option because it mandates run-flat tires that might adversely affect ride and handling.
Finding the exact vehicle we were looking for—an SV AWD trim line with the Premium package—wasn't difficult. Nissan's online car builder and inventory check made the process quite easy. Once I found the exact color and options we were looking for online, I made one call to the dealer for some quick negotiations, knocking more than $1,000 off without much effort. Not bad for a brand-new model and limited arm wrestling.
The Premium package includes NissanConnect Apps with navigation, upgraded 7-inch color touch screen, voice command system, "AroundView" camera system to help with parking and pulling out of spaces, power liftgate, and heated mirrors. The package also included some active safety systems, such as blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning, and moving object detection. Total sticker price: $29,920.
Where the previous Rogue frustrated me with its slow acceleration, whiny engine, and CVT, this one is quite competent and not at all a nuisance to drive. With winter upon us, our testers are always glad to have more SUVs to bolster the fleet, so the break-in miles are expected to accumulate quickly. Thus far, the Rogue is proving to be a pleasant, unobtrusive, easy-to-drive smallish SUV that looks quite competitive in this tough segment that includes the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4.