Friday, June 27, 2014

Nissan's Rogue moves up from 'cute' status

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website  via the “GALLERY: Reviews of new cars” link at

Sacramento, California – When the Nissan Rogue rolled out for the first time in 2008, I thought: “Now, there’s something that’s pretty cute.”

And it was marketed via social media and hip TV shows to young-ish folks – translation: younger than me – who no doubt liked the Rogue’s saucy looks and its practical size as a smallish SUV or crossover … pick your description.

So, the Rogue was completely redesigned for the 2014 model year, adding some sophistication and class without losing the cute factor.

Still, as I gazed at the nearly $30,000 starting price on my top-end 2014 Rogue SL AWD tester, I asked myself if I would be willing to drop 30-grand on it.  I mean cute only goes so far, right?

After a week in the vehicle, you know what?  I think I might be willing to pay up if I was in the market for a loaded, just-the-right-size sport-ute.

Did I say loaded?  I meant jammed to the max with enough safety, security, comfort and convenience features to keep one’s nose buried in the owner’s manual for a week.

I wasn’t really expecting standard features such as a six-way power driver’s seat with lumber support, 18-inch alloy wheels, all-season tires, hill assist, descent control, leather seating surfaces and various techno driving systems.  And yes, three-row seating for seven is available.

My tester included a $2,000 Premium Package that included a power moonroof, LED headlights, auto levelizer, blind spot warning system, lane departure warning system, forward collision warning system and moving object detection system.

Wow! Cute seems to have moved up into the penthouse over the past six years.

I wasn’t complaining.

On the fly, the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 170 horsepower and 175 foot-pounds of torque handled most everything rather well.  No, it was not a rubber-burning road warrior, but it scooted as needed in freeway commutes and was pleasantly responsive in the drive-and-dodge maneuvers that have become staples of downtown driving.

Fuel mileage is pretty sweet at 25 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.  Storage capacity was surprisingly generous.  My ride took on much more than I thought it would at first glance.

The lane departure warning system was way, way too sensitive for my taste.  A blindfolded passenger might have been convinced that I was on the verge of crashing the car 80 percent of the time I was piloting it.  Disable button?  Gotta have it.

Nice rework here, Nissan engineers and designers.  The Rogue was a solid “B” prior to the 2014 model year, and I’d say it has moved into “B-plus” territory in its latest skin.

I’m apparently not alone in my feelings as the 2014 Rogue has been pulling down national awards in multiple categories for months.

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