It isn't easy to stand out in the world of the compact crossover. That's certainly true for the Nissan Rogue, which has routinely failed to sell in the same volumes as rivals such as the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. But now, for the 2014 model year, Nissan hopes to change that.
The attempt comes in the form of the fully redesigned 2014 Nissan Rogue, a compact SUV that shares virtually nothing -- except an engine -- with last year's model. There's new technology, new styling, a new interior and even a third-row seat -- a unique feature in the compact SUV world. In other words: There's a whole new Rogue. (Budget-minded shoppers interested in the old model, however, can still get one: Nissan is offering the outgoing Rogue for the 2014 model year as the Rogue Select.)
So how does the all-new Rogue measure up? We've spent some time in the latest Rogue, and we think things look pretty strong. In fact, we think Nissan has taken a familiar yet mediocre outgoing model and transformed it into one of the shining stars of the compact crossover world.
What's New for 2014?
The Rogue is fully redesigned for the 2014 model year. While last year's engine carries over, nearly everything else is changed. That means new styling, a new interior, new technology and a newly available third-row seat.
What We Like
Handsome styling; competitive pricing; lots of available technology; third-row option is nice
What We Don't
Needs larger available engine; no third row in top trim level; slightly noisy inside
The 2014 Rogue is only offered with one engine: a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. That powerplant, in turn, only comes with one transmission: a continuously variable automatic (CVT). Fuel economy stands at 26 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg highway for the front-wheel-drive base model, or 25 mpg city/32 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.
Standard Features & Options
The Rogue is offered with three trim levels. There's a base-level model called the Rogue S, a mid-level Rogue SV and an upscale Rogue SL.
Shoppers who pick the Rogue S ($23,500) get a 5-inch touchscreen display, power accessories, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, and an AM/FM stereo with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port for music.
Next up is the Rogue SV ($25,100), which adds dual-zone automatic climate control, 17-in alloy wheels, keyless access with push-button starting, a power driver's seat with power lumbar support, satellite radio, an improved sound system, automatic headlights and tinted windows.
Finally, there's the Rogue SL ($28,900), which adds a Bose sound system, leather upholstery, Nissan's NissanConnect infotainment system with navigation, a power lift gate, a larger touchscreen, heated seats, 18-in wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and Nissan's Around View Monitor, which provides a full image around the vehicle when reversing.
Major options include a panoramic sunroof (on SV and SL models), third-row seating (on S and SV models), and a litany of safety features such as a blind spot monitoring system, a lane departure warning system and a forward collision warning system. All-wheel drive is optional on all three models.
The 2014 Nissan Rogue comes standard with a long list of safety equipment ranging from 4-wheel anti-lock brakes to side-curtain airbags, a reversing camera, traction control and daytime running lights. Options include automatic headlights, Nissan's helpful Around View monitor, a blind spot monitor and a lane-departure warning system.
Due to its recent redesign, the Rogue has not yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the nonprofit Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.
Behind the Wheel
On the road, the Rogue quickly impresses. While noise from the CVT and the road can be a little loud, such complaints are forgotten when you consider the Rogue's smooth ride, its easy maneuverability and its good visibility. While those traits won't win the Rogue any awards for excitement, they're among the most important when you're searching for a compact SUV. Also excellent is its interior room, though the third row is, of course, only intended for the smallest among us.
Inside the Rogue, the interior materials certainly impress. While most rivals don't bother to conceal inexpensive touches, the Rogue offers high-end stitching and leather where you might expect to find plastic. That's even true on the base-level Rogue S, which certainly boasts a higher-quality interior than entry-level versions of most rival small crossovers.
Our biggest complaint behind the wheel: The Rogue should simply be faster. And that's not just the opinion of a car enthusiast who enjoys strong acceleration. Today's Rogue is larger than the outgoing model, and that version never really felt spry. A V6, such as Nissan's excellent 3.5-liter unit found in the Pathfinder, would do wonders. But Nissan may worry that drivers would never consider the Pathfinder if the Rogue offered such an engine.
Other Cars to Consider
Ford Escape -- Among the Rogue's newest rivals, the Escape boasts a version for everyone. There's a standard model, a fuel-saving model and a more powerful model. The Escape's interior is among the nicer in the segment, though the Rogue boasts more tech and that all-important third row.
Honda CR-V -- The CR-V offers famed Honda durability and a fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engine. But the CR-V doesn't ride as well as the Rogue, and we happen to think the Nissan's interior is a little nicer, too.
Toyota RAV4 -- Just as the Rogue adds its third row, the redesigned RAV4 drops the feature. But the latest RAV4 is a strong rival to the Rogue, boasting similar power, similar sizing and similar pricing.
The Rogue is an excellent compact SUV, and it's hard to go wrong with any of its appealing trim levels. Our favorite is a Rogue SV with some options. The upscale SL includes a few too many features that aren't necessary, and with those features comes a huge jump in price.