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 1,500 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, so does the 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.
The Rogue was introduced as a 2008 model, and changes since then have been minimal. For 2010, Rogue S models are now available with what Nissan calls the 360 Degree Value Package, which includes 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, privacy glass, a rear spoiler, a chrome grille, and a rearview monitor integrated into an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Nissan claims the package price saves about $1,000 compared to buying these options separately.
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.