The Rogue's tall SUV stance, mushy suspension, and all-season tires respond to corners with a good deal of understeer and body roll. However, if you keep the CUV well within its small performance envelope, the Rogue is a pretty good cruiser. The soft suspension soaks up all but the harshest of bumps, creating a smooth ride.
Further contributing to the Rogue's smoothness is Nissan's Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). Under light loads, such as low-speed city driving or constant-speed freeway cruising, the Rogue's CVT is butter smooth, eliminating the jerking of shifting gears by constantly changing its gear ratios. Unlike some CVTs, the Rogue's transmission does so without constantly hunting around for the right virtual gear.
The CVT's Achilles' Heel is hard acceleration; floor the go-pedal from any speed and you'll be met with a second or so of hesitation while the transmission slides leisurely down to the right gear ratio.
While the Rogue's CVT is the only available transmission, customers are given the choice between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. We wouldn't dream of taking this soft-roader too far off of the beaten path, so unless you live in an area that gets a good deal of snow or rain, stick with the more efficient front-wheel drive option.
Our Rogue SL averaged 22.9 mpg over our testing cycle, which is on the low end of the EPA-estimated 22 city and 27 highway mpg.
Although the Nissan Rogue's name implies that we should be surprised by it in some way, the reality is that it just barely manages to meet our expectations for a small SUV in its price range.
The Rogue SL starts at $21,810. Add $1,930 for the Premium package, which brings the six-disc, seven-speaker Bose audio, Bluetooth, and keyless entry. The Garmin Nuvi navigation option costs $540 from Nissan. Tack on an extra $110 for floor mats and a $780 destination charge to reach an as-tested price of $25,170.
The Rogue earns a low cabin comfort score because of its lack of digital-audio inputs, limited cabin tech, and overpriced and under-integrated Garmin Nuvi navigation option, which can be purchased separately for about half of what Nissan charges.
Performance is pretty good, as long as you don't push the Rogue too hard, and the CUV gains an extra point for its supersmooth CVT.
We're split on our feelings about the Rogue's design. On one hand, the cabin materials feel high quality and the controls fall nicely into place. On the other, we wouldn't want to spend a long period of time in such a dull cabin on such uncomfortable seats.
Performance-oriented drivers should look to the 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan S, which can drive circles around the Rogue. Despite lacking Bluetooth hands-free, the Honda CR-V features a higher-quality cabin and a better tech package. However, both of these vehicles are significantly more expensive than a similarly equipped Rogue and are less fuel efficient.
|Model||2009 Nissan Rogue|
|Power train||2.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder, CVT|
|EPA fuel economy||22 mpg city/27 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||22.9 mpg|
|Navigation||Optional Garmin Nuvi 750 portable navigation system|
|Bluetooth phone support||Optional|
|Disc player||Six-disc CD changer with MP3 playback|
|MP3 player support||Auxiliary analog input|
|Other digital audio||XM satellite radio|
|Audio system||Seven-speaker Bose premium audio with subwoofer|
|Price as tested||$25,170|
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