2014 Nissan Rogue, thinking things through: Motoramic Drives
Let’s face it: Compact sport utilities generate as much excitement as a DMV appointment line. It is a highly functional yet aesthetically challenged suite of vehicles — the overalls of the automotive world. But it is also massive, shifting some 1.8 million units last year, with growth of 6.5 percent expected next year. Hence, it is bloodily contested — won on a foundation of value, efficiency, storage and other utilitarian metrics. And by those measures, Nissan’s all-new Rogue offers a nicely improved contender.
Rogue boasts best-in-segment trunk space, better than the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Kia Sportage, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, et al. If you utilize the second row and max out room, however, the Honda and Toyota squeeze past. But what gives the edge to the Rogue in this department is its unique Divide N’ Hide system. Like Ram pickup trucks’ RamBox in-bed storage, it’s one of those clever advancements that figures out how to do more with the same space as everyone else. Divide N’ Hide is a simple 2-piece cargo organizer and hidden floor storage that keeps items separate using one easily cleaned lower level. So dirty socks from your weekend camping trip stay separated from your organic broccoli. Ingenious.
There’s also an added thoughtfulness for back-seat passengers, something curiously absent in many competitors, especially when one considers it’s most likely your children sequestered back there. The back seats feature nine inches of travel, allowing generous personal space to the Taylor Swift fans in your life. There’s also second-row air vents, a simple consideration the RAV4 and CR-V don’t offer.
Its 170-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder is inherited from the last-gen Rogue, but the engine-continuously variable transmission pair has been improved to bump fuel efficiency by 18 percent to 33 highway mpg (better than all but the Mazda CX-5). The engine won’t wow you, but nor will any other CUV. And AWD is available at any trim level for an additional $1,350 (prices range between $23,350 and $32,270).
Design-wise the Rogue stands fairly equal to its biggest competitors, although Nissan has made an effort to inject a bit of testosterone into the fairly neutered segment by way of more muscular wheel arches and sharpened, angular headlights (LED optional). There’s available third-row/7-passenger seating in S and SV trim levels, but not in the highest SV level to avoid possible cannibalization of the Pathfinder. But Nissan shouldn’t worry too much, as the third row is so utterly constrictive that unless you’re Gandalf carpooling a merry band of Hobbits it’s unlikely you’d ever take them up on that option.