That rear camera doesn't last long, as with the addition of the optional SL Package it's almost immediately replaced by the Around View Camera -- a feature that I've previously only seen in Infiniti models that gives the driver a bird's-eye view of the area around the vehicle by stitching together video from four cameras mounted around the vehicle's perimeter. For your $3,900, the SL Package also adds a 5-inch touch screen and an SD card-based navigation system with SiriusXM NavTraffic. A Bose audio system is also added, bumping the number of speakers up to eight, including a front-center fill channel and a powered subwoofer. Climate controls gain an automatic thermostat, the seats and steering wheel gain leather trim, and the front buckets gain two levels of heating. Headlights are upgraded to HID Xenon lamps and gain an automatic on/off function. Finally, a modest power moonroof is added to the feature list. That's not a bad haul for just under $4,000.
However, there are a few small annoyances that must be pointed out. For starters, the 5-inch screen used to display maps and Around View Camera output is located fairly low on dashboard's center stack. This makes it difficult to monitor the map or check the camera without taking your eyes off the road or craning your neck. Additionally, the tiny, low-resolution screen doesn't offer the best detail when in Around View mode, which makes it difficult to spot painted lines on the road or poorly defined curbs. However, even with these trade-offs, the extra visibility afforded by the extra cameras can greatly enhance safety and make tight parallel parking easier.
While navigating with the turn-by-turn directions, I noticed that this system didn't seem to feature a text-to-speech engine, so it wasn't able to speak street names aloud. However, the spoken prompts were clearly stated with enough headway to prevent panicked last-minute scrambles for turns. Finally, the Rogue lacks Bluetooth A2DP audio streaming. Although the auxiliary audio input somewhat fills in this hole in the feature set, this connection lacks Bluetooth's transport controls, so you'll have to interact directly with a paired phone to skip tracks.
The Nissan Rogue starts at $22,310 for the S trim level, where an analog auxiliary input is the best tech you get. Climbing the trim levels you end up at the $28,650 price tag for our loaded-up 2013 Rogue SV with SL Package model in (humorously) Cayenne Red. You can add $1,300 to any Rogue to add the on-demand AWD system, but this high up the trim-level totem pole, there are no other options to add to the Rogue (aside from your usual array of mud flaps and floor mats). Add a $825 destination charge to reach our as-tested price of $29,475.
Recently, we took a spin in the Mazda CX-5. Fully loaded, the Mazda is only $10 less than the Nissan, so I think it's interesting to take a moment and compare these two small crossovers. The Rogue has more power, more torque, and a CVT that helps it to better make use of that grunt. It feels more confident on the highway and is more resistant to crosswinds than the Mazda. However, the Mazda is less anonymous-looking and is more rewarding to take through a bendy bit of road thanks to its sportier steering and suspension setup. The CX-5 also boasts arguably better cabin tech with its TomTom-based navigation system, but the Rogue's Around View Camera gives it a serious edge in safety tech.
The driving enthusiast in me wants to give the edge to the friskier CX-5, but I think your average crossover buyer will find more value in the more settled Rogue. Either choice, I think, is a good one.
|Model||2013 Nissan Rogue|
|Trim||SV with SL Package|
|Power train||2.5-L 4-cylinder, CVT, FWD, or optional AWD|
|EPA fuel economy||23 city, 28 highway, 25 combined mpg|
|Observed fuel economy||23.4|
|Navigation||Optional SD-based navigation with SirusXM NavTraffic|
|Bluetooth phone support||Yes|
|Disc player||Single-slot CD|
|MP3 player support||Standard analog 3.5mm auxiliary input, USB connection, iPod connection|
|Other digital audio||SiriusXM Satellite Radio|
|Audio system||Bose premium audio|
|Driver aids||Optional Around View Camera|
|Price as tested||$29,475|