The 2013 Nissan Rogue is but one of approximately nine-dozen compact sport utility vehicles available to Canadians for the current model year. As these "cute-utes" become ever-cuter and more numerous by the year, it's becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd.
Granted, I say that every year as I drive more of these vehicles, but it really is true. More and more, drivers seem to need less of offroad capabilities, three rows of seating, and six-cylinder engines, and more style, improved value, and better fuel economy.
For the 2013 model year, the Rogue checks off the majority of those boxes, but some competitors are really pushing the envelope, while Nissan stands mostly pat.
The biggest change for the 2013 Rogue comes in the value department, where it adds a "Special Edition" package that costs $1,400, but adds $2,400 of content according to Nissan. The package is only available on the S trim models - both front-wheel and all-wheel drive). My tester is the latter.
It's all stuff I'm certain I'd appreciate if I were an owner of this type of vehicle - a tonneau cover to keep valuables out of sight, front fog lights, a keyless entry system, and moonroof, among other things.
Still, competitors are offering everything from heated steering wheels, to blind spot monitoring systems, to panoramic sunroofs, and more.
And that's not to mention the stuff under the skin, such as brand new lightweight platforms (hello, Mazda), or downsized turbocharged engines (what's up, Ford?).
All Rogue models are fitted with a 2.5-litre inline-4 engine mated to a continuously variable transmission. This is sure to be perfectly satisfactory for the average driver who is looking for a decent mix of power and fuel economy. During my week, it offers just that - good acceleration when I need to pass a vehicle, and a sub-10 L/100 km. fuel rating that I'm happy with.
Nissan doesn't spout words like "sporty" or "performance" when talking of the Rogue, and for good reason. Ride leans very much toward the comfort side of things, which, to be fair, is great for those who couldn't care less how their crossover does while careening around a hairpin turn on a track.
I do like Nissan's "zip, sip, and grip" all-wheel drive mantra - it'll "zip" up to speed with power to all four wheels, "sip" fuel economy on the highway by sending 100% of power to the front wheels, and "grip" during cornering, instantly sending power to the front or rear wheels when needed.
Steering, meanwhile, is terribly numb. I appreciate that many people may not want or need a performance-oriented SUV, but Nissan could tweak the steering to give the driver a bit more of a connection to the vehicle.
Beyond ride, the Rogue does excel in terms of interior space. It's one of the longest vehicles in the segment, with a wheelbase that's just as generous. I have no issues comfortably and easily getting in and out of both the front and rear seats, and once I'm sitting down in the second row, my head isn't bumping the ceiling and my knees aren't pressed up against the front seats.
There's plenty of room in the cargo area for numerous items, both tall and long alike, and the rear bench folds with little effort into a 60/40 split for added convenience. Even the front passenger seatback folds down for those snowboards, planks of wood, or who-knows-what-else you carry around on a regular basis.
The Rogue doesn't stand out like a lot of its competitors who are doing their best to elbow each other out of the way and into consumers' consciousness, but there's still a good vehicle being offered by Nissan to those who don't need the newest technology or most eye-catching styling.
2012 Nissan Rogue
Trim level: S AWD
Price as tested (before taxes): $28,313
Options on test vehicle: Special Edition Package ($1,400) inc.: 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels, power moonroof, front fog lights, privacy glass, intelligent key system, tonneau cover, "SE" badging; Metallic pearl paint ($135)
Configuration: front engine/ all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.5L 4-cylinder / continuously variable transmission
Power/torque: 170 hp/ 175 lb.-ft.
Fuel (capacity): regular (60L)
Fuel economy ratings: 9.6 L/100km city; 7.7 L/100km hwy
Observed fuel economy: 9.8 L/100km over 327 km
Warranties: 3 years/60,000 km (basic); 5 years/100,000 km (powertrain)
Competitors: Chevrolet Equinox; Ford Escape; Honda CR-V; Hyundai Tucson; Kia Sportage; Mazda CX-5; Suzuki Grand Vitara; Subaru Forester; Toyota RAV4; Volkswagen Tiguan