Capsule Review: 2014 Nissan Rogue SV FWD

capsule review 2014 nissan rogue sv fwd

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.






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  • Suspekt Suspekt on Jun 19, 2014

    The CRV is the king. Probably the best car "dollar for dollar" in the whole world. I'm not even exaggerating. When you really take a long hard look at everything the average Joe needs a car to do, the CRV delivers. When people ask me what car they should buy NEW, I always point them to 2: 1A. Toyota Prius 1B. Honda CRV Of course family composition, towing ability, climate etc etc play a role in all of this but I sincerely believe the above 2 cars deliver what most families really need.

  • DrGastro997 DrGastro997 on Jun 19, 2014

    When I was living in Japan I saw that the Nissan models were significantly different from the models that are manufactured here. Ever since Nissan started manufacturing in Smyrna Tennessee I have noticed the significant decline in quality. I owned a Maxima SE that was made in Japan and it had a great interior that was rock solid with nice materials. Production in Tennessee is not helping Nissan. The front dash is made by Kantus, a Japanese transplant in TN as well. They're obviously not helping Nissan with high quality dashes like they do in Japan. The Rogue looks much better than before but I too worry about the interior build and quality.

    • See 1 previous
    • Old Man Pants Old Man Pants on Jun 19, 2014

      Akebono once said something like "The Japanese give you exactly what you deserve; nothing more or less." Maybe that's the philosophy coming out of Smyrna.

  • Dennis Howerton Nice article, Cory. Makes me wish I had bought Festivas when they were being produced. Kia made them until the line was discontinued, but Kia evidently used some of the technology to make the Rio. Pictures of the interior look a lot like my Rio's interior, and the 1.5 liter engine is from Mazda while Ford made the automatic transmission in the used 2002 Rio I've been driving since 2006. I might add the Rio is also an excellent subcompact people mover.
  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
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