I had a chance to drive Nissan’s most popular CUV this week, the Nissan Rogue. Nissan has a slogan that says: More than you expect- Everything you deserve. This seemed to apply to the Rogue because it was more than I expected. The Rogue is often described as little brother to the Nissan Murano but it is more than that.

The Rogue competes in the ultra competitive Compact CUV segment that includes the Honda CRV, Ford Escape, and the Toyota RAV4. The Rogue’s plethora of standard and optional features provide the value it needs to stand out from the field. Besides being packed with content, the Rogue has some great exterior styling, which the competition is lacking at this price level. Best of all, the Rogue just looks fun and that is half the battle.

Inside, the Rogue scores points for its sophisticated looking dash and center stack. The upscale tone also extends to the doors and seats and gives this economy minded crossover a distinctive advantage in a mostly boring segment. Controls and gauges are logically placed and easy to use. One of my favorite features of the Rogue is its huge glovebox.

My test Rogue had the standard 170 hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to Nissan’s Xtronic CVT automatic transmission and front-wheel drive (AWD is available).Nissans CVT transmission is one of the few that work well, and it gives the Rogue great fuel economy without feeling like it is winding up a rubber band.

Available in just two trim levels, S and SV. The SV comes standard with a ton of goodies such as: six way power driver’s seat, a six speaker AM/FM/CD/XM Radio with a 4.3-inch color display, USB, Bluetooth, rearview camera, and keyless ignition. For an extra $3,900 I recommend you get the SL Package my test model had. It includes upgraded headlights, heated leather front seats, a NAV system with 5-inch touch-screen and 360-degree camera view, an upgraded seven-speaker Bose sound system, and eighteen-inch alloy wheels. The MSRP of my loaded Rogue was $29,470. This price is comparable to the competition, but I think the Rogue gives you more bang for the buck.

Safety wise, the Rogue comes with Vehicle Dynamic Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, and airbags all around. I can say that one of my favorite features of the Rogue was the new 360-degree camera. This is great for parking, backing up, or checking your surroundings. This feature could save some lives and will be wildly popular for buyers with young families.

One thing I didn’t like about the Rogue was the drone of the CVT transmission. I had to tune it out or turn up the radio. I tried to keep reminding myself that this was an economy minded CUV and not a luxury model.

The Rogue seems to be part station wagon and part CUV. I, for one don’t like it’s boxy competitors and prefer the sportiness of the Rogue.

A fully loaded Rogue is under $30k, about the same as a Honda CRV or Toyota RAV4. And this is before you dicker with the dealer. Given a choice, I’d go with the Rogue because it is sporty and fun to drive. It is due an upgrade soon and I am sure that Nissan will up the ante to keep the Rogue near the top of the Compact Crossover food chain. The 2012 Nissan Rogue is a good choice for those who need more room than a conventional hatchback, but don’t want a boxy family truckster.

Mike Herzing


Price: Base MSRP $23,970 as tested $29,470

Engine: 170 HP 2.5 liter I-4

Transmission: CVT

EPA Fuel Numbers: 23 city/28 hwy

Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5