Nice, But CVT Is a Deal Breaker - 2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Long-Term Road Test

2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Long-Term Road Test

2014 Nissan Rogue: Nice, But CVT Is a Deal Breaker

April 14, 2014

2014 Nissan Rogue

I spent a few days in our new 2014 Nissan Rogue. It's a nice, roomy crossover that's comfortable with plenty of space for a small family and their things (and relocating their things). It's got a power liftgate. Once used, you'll never want to lift a slab of glass and steel by yourself again.

But the CVT is not one of the Rogue's flattering features. In traffic and around town, it delivers the classic rubber band sensation that requires delicate throttle inputs and out-thinking the transmission logic simply to sustain a smooth ride. And the Rogue isn't available without it.

People smarter than I can articulate why CVTs tend to work better with large engines. I just know that they do. The CVT matched to the 3.5-liter V6 in our former long-term Nissan Quest, for example, worked great. That van's seamless power delivery was one of its defining features.

Not so the Rogue. The gear selector stalk includes an "overdrive" lockout button, which for our purposes we'll rename push-to-pass. You need to get friendly with this button to extract any swift sauce from the Rogue. All that could be forgiven if the Rogue delivered exceptional fuel economy. But we're 3,000 miles into this test and we've yet to near the EPA-rated 28 combined MPG. We're hanging around in the low 22's combined.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 3,100 miles


  • yellowbal yellowbal Posts:

    CVTs are the worse. Long term reliability is questionable and may be unrepairable. Normal automatics can be rebuilt by some transmission shops, CVTs are usually replaced as a unit. A good 6,7, or 8 speed automatic is plenty for almost all cars.

  • cobryson cobryson Posts:

    This is just a random observation, something I've noticed in my own driving recently: I wonder if driving cars with significant amounts of power ends up ruining the driving experience, somehow sets the bar higher for every other normal car. I too find myself aggravated with Nissan CVTs when I'm driving rental cars, and often annoyed by other four-cylinder, cheaper cars these days. However, before I had my relatively powerful Mustang I drove a weaker car and didn't have any issues with it. That so many people purchase and are happy with things like CVTs tells me that maybe some of us are just corrupted, and can't handle reverting back to slower cars.

  • foxtrot685 foxtrot685 Posts:

    Give it time. As someone who owns a CVT equipped car, gas mileage and performance sucks for about the first 5,000 to 8,000 miles. It sorts itself out after that, sometimes sooner.

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    We've got a plain-Jane 2012 Altima with the 2.5 and CVT, and unless Nissan changed the programming on this Rogue, I don't agree with much of anything you've said here. With all the internet bellyaching I was expecting to hate the transmission but was surprised. It's responsive. It's smooth. Works well in passing maneuvers. I've driven 6-speed autos that are extremely balky and sluggish and this CVT mops the floor with them. My only complaints are a fairly soft takeoff from a stop and occasional difficulty in dialing in the right amount of throttle to keep the engine settled on long hills. CVTs are probably a bummer in more aggressive driving. For family sedans and CUVs, they work very well. And don't report "combined" fuel economy figures unless you provide a breakdown of city vs. highway miles or it's worthless. Give us the mpgs you are receiving on a mostly-city or mostly-highway tank.

  • okbeartoy okbeartoy Posts:

    CVT's are not the best choice for a vehicle that is driven hard, especially by someone that is used to pushing the accelerator peddle to the floor all the time. They typically do a great job for normal day to day driving that most folks do, even when mated to a smaller engine. Sure they take some getting used to, at least it took quite a while for me.. Have owned several and Nissan produces some great CVT's. I have owned Nissan, Honda, and Toyota CVT's (the Toyota was a Prius so not quite the same tranny) and all did a good job. Not the best tranny for foot to the floor drag racing and boy racer activities.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    @cobry: I think you are mostly right. For the past two years my regular driver has been my '72 MGB-GT, which had 95 gross hp when new and certainly has far less than that now with 150k+ miles on it. About the only thing on the road that I can out acceller

  • cobryson cobryson Posts:

    I just feel like it's got to be hard to swap from a 600+ HP V12 Merc to a Rogue CVT without feeling...underwhelmed. I'm sure it's a challenge to be entirely objective, put the blinders on and review an individual car fairly.

  • diigii diigii Posts:

    I don't understand why Nissan never offered the current Nissan Quest with the manual shift capability that the Japanese-spec Elgrand has in Asia. It is basically the same car, albeit the right-hand drive setup and front/back body panels.

  • dm7279 dm7279 Posts:

    Corby is exactly right I think. We have a 2014 Rogue, and since I have driven nothing but modestly powered cars over the last ten years, it feels perfectly adequate. If my car was considerably faster than the Rogue, I'm sure it would annoy me more. I have always thought an advantage of the CVT was quick responses to throttle inputs, and this is no different. Most conventional automatics are very hesitant to downshift.

  • I agree with cobryson completely. Not only is it hard to not feel underwhelmed when switching that far down in HP you also tend to drive the 'slower' car faster which sucks up more gas. I notice it when going from our 2.5 Mazda to the 2.0 and most recently when going from a rental car with a 5.7 back down to the 2.0 - - - Another factor that I see is where you drive. If it is mostly back highways and less crowded freeways then there aren't as many instances when one would think "boy I wish this accelerated faster" compared to crowded freeways where you might need to zip around cars to get where you want quite quickly. That 5.7 engine was a godsend quite a few times in SoCal traffic when I needed to get over 4 lanes quickly to go where I wanted. There were plenty of quick maneuvers I'd have never tried in my 2.0 Mazda. It would do it but it would need more time, which I didn't have in order to make it through the opening in traffic.

Leave a Comment

Past Long-Term Road Tests

Have a question? We're here to help!
Chat online with us
Email us at
*Available daily 8AM-5PM Pacific
Call us at 855-782-4711
Text us at ED411