Strengths and weaknesses:
- right-sized for city living
- cargo capacity
- generic plastic console and switches
- compromised rear visibility
Rascally Rogue refined for the road
"It’s easy to miss seeing just how many of Nissan’s suburban small-utility haulers are on the roads – and there are a lot of them - but Nissan’s Rogue continues to offer a popular family-friendly choice for 2011."
Like many competitors in the segment, Rogue isn’t extremely distinctive in its outward appearance (much the same as I find with Forester, Rav4 or Tucson) and blends anonymously into the autoscape; not that there’s anything wrong with that. The impression continues for this model year with the SV trim package I am testing. It is much the same as the last Rogue I drove back in 2009.
Some reworking of the sheetmetal marks this one as a 2011 model, with a ‘refreshed’ silhouette characterized by a rear spoiler and what the company has termed a license plate ‘finisher’.
It turns out that the SV trim level I have this time around is basically the same as the last one I used (the SV is a new addition to the trim, and features the same equipment as the SL trim used to, now that SL is all-wheel drive only) with the inclusion of AWD.
While unchanged, the powertrain is still a confidence-inspiring combination of power (a 2.5 litre four-cylinder engine capable of 170 hp and 175 lb.-ft. of torque) and a continuously variable transmission that doesn’t hamper acceleration out of a desire to be fuel-economy conscious.
With a responsive accelerator underfoot and good brakes (ventilated four-wheel discs with ABS), the Rogue in any trim is suited to any traffic situation, and hasn’t left me worried when I need some quick merging power. Vehicle dynamic and traction control systems are standard as well.
The Rogue provides a manoeuvrable package for urban use, with its tight turning circle and compact overall size.
Inside, the little ute has benefited from some refinement of the cabin, though again the vehicle is much the same as in previous years. My tester gets a fold-down passenger seat courtesy of the Premium Package option ($1,950), which also brings fog lamps, larger wheels (18-inch) and a power moonroof to the platform.
As with previous incarnations, the seating is good, with cloth upholstery and a basic range of adjustment for the driver. Forward visibility is good, but to the rear and passenger side it is compromised by the Rogue’s fat C-pillars and small rear window.
The must-have inclusions for daily life are covered with air conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry, Bluetooth phone connectivity and rearview backup camera display (the option package also upgrades the stereo).
Entry into and exit from the Rogue is easy for most people, thanks to the vehicle’s height (which in my experience is one of the main reasons people shop small crossover utility vehicles), and the overhead room in the cabin will accommodate all but the smallest percentile of potential passengers.
Overall, the SV continues to offer what it always has - a collection of passenger space and cargo handling ability superior to a car, on a solid chassis. Taking into account the all-wheel drive option of my test model, it’s a standout in the segment; if not an eye-catching one.
The one I am using, an SV with only the premium package for optional equipment, comes with a sticker price of $30,633, which is comparable to offerings from Toyota and Kia, though it is slightly higher than domestics like Ford’s Escape.