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Published: 03/12/2014 - by Josh Jacquot, Senior Editor
Quick Summary: Redesigned for 2014, Nissan's new Rogue joins the upper echelon of compact SUVs when it comes to utility, quality and all-weather ability. The second-generation Rogue arrives with a renewed emphasis on fuel economy, interior quality and space. It is one of only two compact SUVs available with a third-row seat.
What Is It?
As the top-of-the-line 2014 Nissan Rogue, our SL AWD tester is one of three trim levels: S, SV and SL. All three trims come standard with front-wheel drive but can be had with optional all-wheel drive. Only one engine and transmission combo is available across the line: a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The base front-drive Rogue S starts at $23,350. Our loaded tester stickered at $32,395.
How Does It Drive?
On the road, the Rogue is easy to handle and comfortable even with its 18-inch wheels (SL trim only).
Its CVT, though still not our favorite, is among the best of its type paired to a four-cylinder engine. Though most CVTs produce undesirable engine drone at wide throttle openings, the Rogue seems to mitigate this problem to a large extent. Leave your foot on the floor for 10 seconds and there's no escaping the effect, but we found the Rogue's engine provided ample torque to avoid this scenario in many situations. The low engine speeds the CVT seeks produce infrequent booming and vibration through the interior, but only the most sensitive drivers will notice.
As in most compact SUVs, you'll need to plan your passes well in advance. Sport mode improves response some but keeps engine speed higher, which will reduce fuel economy. In our testing the Rogue hit 60 mph in 9.3 seconds. Mazda's CX-5 and Honda's CR-V require 8.3 and 9.5 seconds, respectively, to reach the same milestone.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Does It Deliver?
The upside of the CVT is that it helps the Rogue deliver a class-leading fuel economy rating from the EPA. Our all-wheel-drive model is rated at 28 mpg combined (25 city/32 highway). Front-wheel-drive models improve slightly to 28 mpg combined (26 city/33 highway). The second most frugal SUV in the segment, Mazda's CX-5 is EPA rated at 26 mpg combined (24 city/30 highway) in AWD trim.
Our tester produced 25.1 mpg over 829 miles. On our 116-mile highway-heavy test loop it produced 26.4 mpg.
What Kind of Tech Does It Offer?
SL trims offer an abundance of both standard and optional high-tech features, many of which are designed to improve safety or avoid accidents. Our loaded tester came standard with Nissan's Around View, which — via four wide-angle cameras in the front, back and under each side mirror — offers a simulated overhead view of the area surrounding the Rogue while in Park and during low-speed maneuvers. It's a stunning trick that effectively mimics what a camera above the vehicle would produce and it makes precision maneuvers a breeze.
The Premium package added other safety features including Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning and Moving Object Detection, which alerts a driver to moving objects in the Around View range with both visual and audible alerts. The Rogue stops from 60 mph in 124 feet, which is average for the segment. High-speed handling isn't one of its strengths, but conservative stability control maintains order.
A 7-inch touchscreen displays the SL's standard navigation system, which is among the most intuitive available today. Bluetooth hands-free phone operation and music streaming are standard and phone pairing is easy through the touchscreen interface.
Is Its Interior Comfortable?
It's clear Nissan made significant effort to create an interior space that's among the best in the segment with the 2014 Rogue. Our SL tester came with leather, but that's only one of many areas where its interior shines. Soft-touch surfaces on the dash and doors, as well as precise knobs and buttons give the Rogue a genuinely high-quality feel that's beyond most of its competitors.
The Rogue's six-way-adjustable front seats, which also offer lumbar adjustment, are more comfortable than the seats in most of its competitors. The rear seats provide ample space in every dimension and offer 9 inches of fore and aft travel as well as an adjustable seatback angle. Big people fit in the second row, too. Six-footers can easily sit behind a front seat adjusted to their position.
What Features Differentiate the Rogue?
Remarkably, Nissan managed to improve the 2014 Rogue's interior cargo space while reducing its overall length, though it's still among the longest SUVs in the class. There are 70 cubic feet of maximum cargo space available with the second-row seatbacks folded, which is among the best in the class. But it's the Rogue's highly configurable rear cargo system that sets it apart from others. Lids for the two large bins integrated into the cargo floor can be configured into storage dividers and a shelf.
The rear seatbacks are split 40/20/40, which further enhances utility. Though they don't fold completely horizontal, they do match the height of the rear load floor, creating a more usable cargo area. The front passenger seatback can also be lowered to provide up to 8 feet of horizontal cargo space for hauling lengthy items.
Optional on the S and SV models is the Family package, which adds a third-row seat in place of the configurable storage system. Though it's really only viable for children, a third row is rare in this class.
A locking center differential that enhances grip by splitting torque evenly between the front and rear axles is standard on all-wheel-drive Rogues. So is hill descent control, which limits speed on steep descents. Both are standout features in the segment and make the Rogue a worthy consideration if light off-roading or snow use is on your agenda. Brake-actuated limited-slip front and rear differentials, which drive power to the wheel with grip, further the case for the Rogue's all-weather abilities.
What Are Its Closest Competitors?
The Rogue is a highly usable compact SUV, so its primary competitors are those that favor utility over driving involvement.
The Subaru Forester offers similar cargo space and is probably as capable if not more capable than the Rogue in poor weather or light off-roading. It also comes with a CVT.
Honda's CR-V is widely considered the standard-bearer in the segment, and because of its quality, efficiency and utility it deserves mention in any compact SUV conversation. It's available with all-wheel drive as well.
Why Should You Consider This Car?
The 2014 Nissan Rogue's combination of high utility and solid all-weather/dirt road ability expands its horizons beyond many compact SUVs. It also offers (especially on SL trims) a very high-quality interior. The options of a third row or the flexible cargo storage system are unique features that increase the Rogue's relevance as a family-friendly do-all crossover SUV.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
The Rogue's CVT will be a deal killer for finicky drivers who don't like the additional noise and lack of powertrain control that come with it. Even in Sport mode the Rogue lacks the response of others in the class.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
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