Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: 2012 Nissan Rogue SV: An ironically named compact crossover

2012 Nissan Rogue SV - Subcompact Culture

Crossovers have become a ubiquitous part of the automotive landscape. They’re practical, versatile, but frankly, some of them are tepid in terms of driving excitement or enjoyment.

Nissan’s compact crossover entry, the Rogue, is ironically named because it hardly meets the definition of the word “rogue,” which is “a playfully, mischievous person.” Nissan makes plenty of playfully mischievous vehicles, whether it’s the Nissan Cube (playful, somewhat mischievous) or the 370Z (definitely playful) or the GT-R (definitely mischievous). There’s nothing wrong, per se, with the Rogue, it just isn’t exciting.

The Rogue’s exterior is an amalgam of styling in my eyes. The back end looks heavy; the front grille’s upper split chrome grid doesn’t seem to gel with the rest of the styling ques, sans the chrome strips along the doors. Ever since the vehicle debuted in 2008, I haven’t been able to warm up to the look. In case you were wondering, our Rogue SV had 17" wheels and tires.

2012 Nissan Rogue SV dashboard - Subcompact Culture

Inside, the Rogue is comfortable, practical, and spacious. You won’t find funky or groundbreaking styling, but it is simple and functional. No real complaints here, but no particular accolades, either. And although the interior is fairly simple, it looks a tad bit dowdy and aged compared to some of its competition, such as the Kia Sportage. I did appreciate the ultra-intuitive three-dial climate automatic control system, and the above-average sound system, rear back-up camera, as well as the power moonroof. Cargo capacity is on par with others in the segment, as was rear seat room.

The Rogue is powered by a 2.4-liter four cylinder making 170 hp. and 174 ft./lbs. of torque put through Nissan’s Xtronic CVT. With the Rogue’s AWD system, including a 4WD lock model, the vehicle will likely do very well in foul weather. In normal weather, the Rogue is easy to drive and comfortable. It cruises easily on the highway, and the ride is agreeable. From a standstill, the CVT saps a lot of “go” from the engine. Also, when in the hills, the throttle requires a heavy foot to get the CVT to its happy place and get all 3,479 lbs. to move in a hasty fashion. The Rogue is best on the open highway at cruising speeds, where it cruises admirably and contently. It does not much like the curvy back roads of Oregon Wine Country, where its soft suspension allowed for lots of body roll. The Rogue is a cruiser not a carver. The vehicle is rated at 22 city and 26 highway MPG; we got right around the city average.

So what are the Rogue’s high points? It has plenty of space for both drivers and passengers, is easy to drive, and it’s simple. Yes, it had a bumpin’ stereo, a moon roof, Bluetooth, keyless ignition, and navigation, but all this was overshadowed by its mediocrity. It isn’t bad, it just isn’t a standout, especially with the fierce competition from the Koreans and the Americans, not to mention other Japanese makes.

2012 Nissan Rogue SV - Subcompact Culture

Our Rogue SV tester stickered at $27,920 including the $810 destination fee. This is also on par with the rest of the upper echelon of the compact crossover crowd. However, being on par is the Rogue’s resounding theme. It doesn’t shine in any one particular area. While not lacking in any certain way—assuming you like the styling—Nissan’s Rogue is hardly a rogue in spirit. And with the plethora of other more exciting, rewarding compact AWD crossovers out there, the Nissan Rogue is a vanilla entry into the crossover segment. And while vanilla can be tasty, it’s hardly a rogue flavor.

1 comment:

nlpnt said...

Gotta say I'm not a fan of crossovers. For that money, if that driving experience, bland boxy styling and 22 MPG are acceptable, you might as well get a minivan with two extra seats and double the cargo space.

OTOH if you only *need* the room something like the Rogue offers, you can get it in a C-segment hatchback for less money, less gas and with more style.