2013 Nissan Rogue SV FWD Review by Carey Russ
DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD WITH CAREY RUSS
• SEE ALSO: Nissan Buyers Guide
Nissan's Rogue has always been an honest compact crossover, with no attempt at a rough, tough, off-road demeanor. There's the body-on-frame Xterra SUV for that, and I doubt that there's much cross-shopping between the two. The Rogue, based on the same "C" platform as the Sentra sedan, follows the comfort and convenience-oriented crossover formula, and well. It has been successful since its model year 2008 debut, and, apart from a styling freshening for 2011 has been little changed.
No major changes were or are needed. With a 2.5-liter, 170 horsepower four-cylinder engine matched to a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) and front- or all-wheel drive, the Rogue has no problem dealing with daily traffic or steep grades. It's small enough to be easily parked, yet has plenty of room inside for four or five people and cargo, with the usual crossover versatility. The wide-ratio CVT allows low low "gear" for quick acceleration in traffic, and four-wheel vented disc brakes stop just as quickly. The CVT's high "high gear" means good highway fuel economy. Nissan claims 28 mpg, and I actually saw that -- and not at a simulated 50 mph on level ground on a chassis dynamometer, either.
Trim levels are now S, SV, and "SV with SL Package". Why not just plain SL? All can be had with front- or all-wheel drive, so no reason to have to buy the most expensive model if you need AWD. Changes for 2013 are mostly to option package contents, to take advantage of the latest in connectivity and infotainment technology. The major difference between the 2013 SV with SL that I've been driving for the past week and the previous SL models driven (2008 and 2009) is that the navigation system, an add-on Garmin back in `09, is now Nissan's own integrated system. And instead of a plain backup camera, the SL Package now includes the AroundView™ monitor, as well as the usual upscale comfort and convenience items.
AroundView takes the backup camera to the next level by adding cameras to the underside of each outside mirror, with a fourth one in front. In reverse, the rear view shows in the main part of the five-inch monitor screen on the dash, with a simulated overhead view of the ground around the car to the right side. Press the button on the console, and you get a larger image of the ground to the right plus rear (in reverse) or front (D), very useful when parking in a tight spot. Or when your front passenger is about to step out into the dark unknown at night. That's not a necessity, but it is one of the more useful bits of electronic gadgetry available. And the Rogue is the only vehicle in its class to get it, adding a bit more convenience to a comfortable, usefully-sized, and economical crossover.
APPEARANCE: As the smaller sibling to Nissan's midsize, real world-oriented Murano, the Rogue unsurprisingly uses a similar design. Proportions are a bit chunkier, in the manner of a not-quite-grown animal, but it looks right, not fat. It's also good and stable in high winds, so not only does it look aerodynamically correct, it is aerodynamically correct.
COMFORT: With good-looking materials and first-rate fit and finish, the Rogue's interior is a pleasant place to spend a day. The SV gets a power-adjustable driver's seat, including lumbar adjustment, and manually-adjustable front passenger seat that folds flat, forward, for those times you may need to carry something long inside. The SL Package adds leather seating surfaces, two-level heat for the front, and a leather rim for the steering wheel. The audio system is upgraded to a seven-speaker surround-sound Bose®, with AM, FM, and XM/Sirius radio, and CD, plus auxiliary jack and USB input. The SV's 4.3-inch color display is upgraded to five inches, with the navigation system. It all makes for an upscale experience at a models price. Interior storage is highlighted by a huge glovebox and large console box that can also serve as an armrest. There is plenty of head- and leg-room in the rear seat. The cushion is contoured for the two outboard passengers but a third person can fit in the middle, if small and for short distances. All Rogues have a 60/40 folding rear seat; SV and above add the fold-down front passenger seat for further usefulness. The tailgate is counterbalanced and has hydraulic struts for easy lifting. There is a small amount of storage and a space-saver spare tire under the load floor.
SAFETY: The Rogue's unibody structure is built with a strong safety cage around the passenger compartment and front and rear crumple zones. Dual-stage front, seat -mounted front side, and full-length side curtain airbags, a tire-pressure monitoring system, and engine immobilizer are all standard passive safety features. For active safety, all Rogues have four-wheel antilock vented disc brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and vehicle dynamic control (VDC) with traction control (TCS). It has received five-star frontal driver and side impact, and four-star frontal passenger and rollover ratings from NHTSA.
RIDE AND HANDLING: The Nissan "C" platform provides a sturdy and rigid base for the Rogue's fully-independent front strut, rear multilink suspension. The suspension tuning emphasizes comfort, and so has good compliance but with a minimum amount of body motion in normal driving. The electrically-assisted power steering avoids the numbness often found in such systems, and is not overly light to the touch. The Rogue works well when the pavement is poor, and interior noise levels are low. Stability in strong winds is good. It's not an off-road vehicle, but 8.3 inches of clearance should work on forest roads -- and deal well with the curbs, potholes, and debris that is part of city life.
PERFORMANCE: The 2.5-liter aluminum alloy, twincam, 16-valve inline four-cylinder engine under the hood provides plenty of power for the Rogue's mission in life. Vital statistics: 170 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 175 lb-ft of torque at 4400 rpm. As in the Murano, the secret to the Rogue's performance and economy is its continuously-variable transmission (CVT). Integrated computer controls keep the engine and transmission in their most efficient ranges as much as possible. Fuel economy is one reward. Another is smooth, quiet operation, as the CVT never shifts between discrete gears. When more acceleration is desired, it's a simple matter to either press the "Sport" button on the console for a change in ratio programming or to shift manually (into software-generated virtual gears) by means of the shift lever. During time in earlier Rogues, mostly around town and on secondary roads, I averaged 23 mpg. This time, with more highway driving, I got a bit over 27 for the week -- not bad at all for a vehicle this size.
CONCLUSIONS: Nissan's small Rogue crossover continues to offer character, comfort, and functionality.
SPECIFICATIONS 2013 Nissan Rogue SV FWD
Base Price $ 24,750
Price As Tested $ 29,665
Engine Type DOHC 16-valve inline 4-cylinder with Continuously Variable Timing Control System (CVTS)
Engine Size 2.5 liters / 152 cu. in.
Horsepower 170 @ 6000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 175 @ 4400 rpm
Wheelbase / Length 105.9 in. / 183.3 in.
Curb Weight 3329 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower 19.6
Fuel Capacity 15.9 gal.
Fuel Requirement 97 octane unleaded regular gasoline
Tires P225/55R18 97V m+s Dunlop SP Sport 7000
Brakes, front/rear vented disc all around, ABS, EBD, BA standard
Suspension, front/rear independent strut / independent multilink
Ground Clearance 8.3 inches
Drivetrain transverse front engine, front-wheel drive
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
city / highway / observed 23 / 28 / 27
0 to 60 mph 8.7 sec
OPTIONS AND CHARGES
SL Package - includes: leather-appointed seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats and outside mirrors, automatic temperature control, Nissan navigation system with 5" color touch-screen monitor, Sirius XM™ NavTraffic, Bose® premium audio system, AroundView™ monitor, auto-dimming inside mirror, power glass sliding moonroof, automatic on-off headlights, HID headlights with manual leveling, fog lights, 18" aluminum alloy wheels and P225/R18 tires, SL badging $ 3,900
Floor Mats and Cargo Protector $ 190
Destination Charge $ 825