Behold the 2014 Nissan… wait, haven’t we covered the redesigned Rogue already?
Indeed, Winston recently offered a solid writeup on the top-trim Rogue SL with all-wheel-drive, and his findings were largely positive. What if you are on a budget though? How enjoyable is Nissan’s mainstream compact crossover when the heated leather seating, Bose stereo and touchscreen navigation system aren’t included? Sounds like a review of the more mainstream SV trim is in order.
In truth, I owed Derek this review several weeks back. Why so late? Part of the blame can be attributed to a unicorn hunt.
Allow me to explain. The Rogue (182.3” long, 106.5” wheelbase) is now one of the largest entries in the compact crossover class. That length enabled Nissan to add an optional third row to the lower two trim levels. Judging from Nissan’s specs, the Dodge Caravan and other affordable seven-seaters have little to worry about – the Rogue’s third row looks especially low and tight. I can’t say for sure though. Despite monitoring inventory for six weeks, I never got managed to sit in one.
Eventually, I settled for a two-row SV. As previously mentioned, the SV’s seats are cloth, the speakers lack Bose logos and touching the radio display just smudges it. There is still plenty of kit included for $25,350 (MSRP and destination) though – privacy glass, roof rails, Bluetooth, a rear camera, dual zone temperature control, a proximity key and power mirrors, windows, locks and driver’s seat are all included. The only feature I’d really miss out of the SL is the genuinely useful Around View Monitor. It’s hard to go back to the SV’s admittedly-competent rear camera. Some shoppers may also miss the touchscreen radio and fog lights many competitors now offer on their mid-level trims, but most of the content matches up well.
SV buyers won’t be awash in toys, but they do get one of the more upscale exteriors in the class. I’ll leave the detailed stylistic analysis to the professionals, but I do find the front LEDs to be a bit much in that typical Nissan way. I’d still pick the redesigned Rogue over its predecessor, but yesteryear’s style lives on as the 2014 Rogue Select for those who disagree.
I can’t imagine anyone would maintain their preference for the previous model after driving them back to back though. Neither is remotely sporty, but the redesigned Rogue improves where it counts in the class – fuel efficiency is up, noise is down and the overall drive is easygoing but not mushy.
Nissan used a carryover 2.5 liter inline four-cylinder engine across all trims, but it is better utilized by the new CVT. I don’t have any experience with Honda’s Earth Dreams CVTs, but this is the best cog-free automatic I’ve experienced so far. EPA ratings of 26 mpg city/33 highway/28 combined for FWD units don’t hurt either.
The electric power steering was also a pleasant surprise. The rack is two-finger light at parking lot speeds but firms up nicely on the open road. I might have even imagined a few tingles of feedback. My only real critique of the drive is that, like the previous generation, the new Rogue exhibits moderate body flex and loses its composure over rough pavement. Crash performance is also a bit curious – the Rogue was an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus but scored only three stars in the NHSTA frontal test (four stars overall).
As with all crossovers these days, the real story is the interior. Nissan’s redesign is much flashier than before, but the initial impression doesn’t quite hold up. Material quality is generally improved, but many of the surfaces are still undeniably cheap. Still, the second-row slides, modern touches abound and folding the rear seats yield a very competitive 70 cubic feet of space. Nissan also touts their “Divide-N-Hide” configurable tray. It felt a bit like an answer seeking a question, but I’m sure some consumers will love it.
So far, the redesign has been a commercial success. Inventory turnover is currently high, and sales have been brisk since launch. Being that this is Nissan’s second most popular vehicle, it had better sell well though. According to Timothy Cain’s data on goodcarbadcar.net, US Rogue sales have increased every year since introduction. With 84,236 reported sales in five months, 2014 is on track to continue the trend.
Is this marketplace success deserved? As an enthusiast, I never paid much attention to the previous generation. My wife, though, had as strong a girly crush on Gen 1 as I’ve ever seen her develop for a vehicle. Gen 2 just increased the attraction, so the updated Rogue became an immediate frontrunner in our search for a new vehicle. We tested the Rogue twice but ultimately walked away. Why? The sportier drive of some competitors was a small factor (she’s a keeper!). However…
TrueDelta indicates that the 2013 updates for the Altima and Pathfinder were both relatively rough affairs by modern standards. Unfortunately, my tested Rogue also had a few teething issues that seem common in Nissan forums. The passenger door trim refused to stay aligned, the upper tray of the center console frequently did not release, the accelerator offered a surprising amount of vibration and plastic flashing along the lower portion of the center console gave me a nice scuff on one leg. None of these are major issues, but they were enough to dissuade us from becoming Nissan’s beta testers.
Quality issues aside, Nissan has a solid formula here. I didn’t buy one with my own money, but shoppers interested in space and efficiency would do well to consider the 2014 Rogue in any trim level.