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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2012 NISSAN ROGUE REVIEW


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2012 Nissan Rogue

...the flexibility of optional packages and features usually left to bigger crossovers, allows the efficient 2012 Nissan Rogue to remain competitive by staying unique.

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE ROGUE VEHICLE
The Nissan Rogue is best described as the smaller sibling to the popular Murano – a safe and friendly economical two-row crossover if you’re considering the move from a compact or sedan.

I drove a 2012 Nissan Rogue with the standard 170-horsepower 2.5-liter Dual Overhead Cam four-cylinder engine paired to the Xtronic CVT automatic transmission and front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive is available). With just two trim grades, S and SV, my SV test drive came with the following standard features: six-way power driver’s seat; 4.3-inch audio display screen with XM Radio; Bluetooth; rearview camera; steering wheel mounted controls; an auxiliary input jack; and keyless ignition. An additional $3,900 SL Package added leather upholstery, heated front seats, a 5-inch touch-screen navigation system with a 360-degree view, an upgraded seven-speaker Bose audio system, Xenon headlights, and larger eighteen-inch wheels. Basically fully loaded, total vehicle price came to $28,195.

For 2012, the Rogue adds an impressive 360-degree view backup camera and a new Special Edition trim package. The toughest issue the Rogue has going for it is that the Honda CR-V took on a favorable redesign with more aerodynamic sculpting. Otherwise, you’re looking at the same two-row crossover in terms of fuel economy and prices. Another attractive competitor includes the Kia Sportage.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The convenience of climate dials, a rear liftgate privacy glass, and firm seating are simple but distinguishing qualities that separate the Rogue from other crossovers, as does the gigantic glovebox. Overall, the Rogue features a more sophisticated interior than what’s come to be expected from economy crossovers. The base S does not slide or recline and comes off as inflexible, but the SV provides these features plus a fold-down front seat. What’s nice about the new Special Edition package is that it’s available on the base S trim and adds a host of much-desired upgrades found on the SL like the rear privacy glass, 4.3-inch audio display screen, rearview camera, steering wheel mounted controls, XM Radio, and the USB/iPod interface.

Reliability & Safety Factor: Standard safety features for the Rogue include Vehicle Dynamic Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, anti-lock brakes, LATCH, energy-absorbing steering column and an advanced airbag system. With the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Rogue earned crash test scores of “Good” in frontal offset and side impact, but “Acceptable” for roll over or roof strength. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Rogue a 4-Star rating.

Cost Issues: A base Rogue S starts at $22,070; the new Special Edition package is a pretty reasonable addition at $1,200. Fully loaded with the best in tech and comfort, the Rogue SL remains under $30k. A similarly equipped Honda CR-V can match that price, as can the dressed-up Kia Sportage SX – but totes the addition of a sportier 260-horsepower turbocharged 2-liter and panoramic sunroof.

Activity & Performance Ability: The Rogue’s new 360-degree backup camera is a welcomed and dire selling point in this competitive segment. It’s a feature not usually found on such economical crossover, and some critics have cited the vehicle for having too narrow of a rear view. I found the visibility acceptable – for those of you who can navigate the Rogue’s smallish and predictable dimensions into parallel spaces, it might be questionable purchase. The Rogue drives like a spirited small car, with a Sport Mode feature delivering an adequate burst of acceleration – but followed by loud and relentless droning noise caused by the Xtronic CVT. I also discovered a significant amount of body roll when cornering the back roads.

The Green Concern: The Rogue’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder and continuously variable transmission achieves 23 miles-per-gallon city and 28 highway for a combined average of 25. The Honda CR-V gets the same city but 31 highway. The Kia Sportage takes fuel economy up to 22-city/32-highway if you opt for the non-turbo 176-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
Although this small-sized crossover exists in one of the toughest segments, by improving the flexibility of optional packages and providing features usually left to bigger crossovers, the efficient 2012 Nissan Rogue remains competitive by staying unique.

©2012 Katrina Ramser