The Nissan Rogue is a compact SUV. Based on a car platform, it's considered a crossover vehicle, like the Honda CR-V. The Rogue seats five and comes with a four-cylinder engine, as with the CR-V. No V6 is available, nor is there a third row for seven-passenger seating.
The Rogue is meant as a daily commuter, not an off-road adventure vehicle. Its all-wheel-drive system is intended for snow and rain, not rocks and mud. A so-called crossover, it's based on an economy-car platform. The towing capacity is only 1500 pounds. The four-cylinder engine works well with the continuously variable transmission to provide decent pickup and frugal fuel economy.
Behind the wheel, the Rogue offers carlike ride and handling. We think it's one of the better handling small SUVs, but it's not sporty. The ride allows for a lot of road feel and can become harsh on rough and irregular surfaces. Road imperfections and engine sounds intrude into the cabin.
The cabin is pleasant, with materials that would look good in higher-priced vehicles. The controls are easy to use and understand, but the Rogue lacks creature comforts and gadgets filtering down to other low-priced vehicles. There is no navigation system, for instance.
An SUV should provide cargo utility, and the Rogue is up to the task. The rear seats fold flat and, on the Rogue SL, there is an available folding front passenger seat to permit longer items to be loaded. In back, Nissan offers a handy cargo organizer that can keep groceries from sliding around and provide storage for muddy clothes.
With prices starting around $20,000, the Rogue is a worthy competitor vs. the Honda CR-V. Its carlike road manners, cargo utility and prudent fuel economy make it appealing. It's aimed at young families or active singles.
Introduced as a 2008 model, changes to the 2009 Rogue are minimal. There are auto speed-sensing door locks. Standard equipment on the Rogue SL has been upgraded and a Leather Package is available. Bluetooth and Nissan Intelligent Key have been added to the front-drive Premium Package.
The Nissan Rogue is offered in two trim levels, S and SL. Each offers front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. All Rogue models have a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower mated to a continuously variable transmission. When the SL Premium Package is ordered, the transmission has shift paddles to select among six predetermined gear ratios. The all-wheel-drive system is meant for on-road use, and it does not include low-range gearing.
Rogue S ($20,220) and comes with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, four-way manually adjustable front seats, cruise control, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD stereo with four speakers and auxiliary input jack, 60/40 split-folding rear bench seat and 215/70R16 all-season tires on steel wheels. Rogue S is available with all-wheel drive ($21,420). Splash guards ($125) are the only option. Dealer-installed accessories include floor mats, a towing package, and a rear spoiler.
Rogue SL ($21,810) with front-drive or all-wheel drive ($23,010) include six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, roof rails and 225/60R17 tires on aluminum wheels.
The optional SL Leather Package ($1,950) includes leather seating surfaces, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, heated front seats, six-way power driver's seat with power lumbar, driver's one-touch power window, HomeLink, heated outside mirrors and auto-dimming inside mirror. The Premium Package ($1,930) includes Bose premium audio with seven speakers and six-CD changer, XM Satellite Radio, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, speed-sensitive volume control, paddle shifters, foldable rear cargo organizer, rear tonneau cover, fog lights, and pre-wiring for a tow hitch; on all-wheel-drive models Premium ($2,230) also includes Bluetooth hands-free cell-phone link, xenon headlights, and Nissan Intelligent Key keyless ignition.
Safety features include dual front airbags, torso-protecting front side airbags, head-protecting side-curtain airbags with rollover sensors, front seat active head restraints, LATCH-style child seat anchors, tire-pressure monitor, ABS with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), and Vehicle Dynamics Control electronic stability control with traction control.