San Jose, Calif. ? Several months ago my husband, Bill, went to the introduction of the 2014 Nissan Rogue and seemed to be impressed, so when I went to the Monterey Bay area recently for my granddaughter?s high school graduation, I thought it would be a good time for me to spend some quality time in the new Rogue, too.
The Rogue is an important player for Nissan ranking as the second best-selling model in the lineup behind the Altima. This new second generation expands its appeal with an optional three-row seven-passenger capacity. It?s not a vehicle that will carry seven passengers comfortably on a family vacation, but for picking up children at school or going to the ball game, it?s very useful without going the route of a full-size SUV or minivan.
I think the Nissan Rogue came of age with this new version. It looks more grown and refined than the previous generation. The long wheelbase with short front and rear overhangs allow it to keep the compact size, but the interior is more spacious, and of course there?s room now for the third row seating. It?s a little thing, but by allowing the rear doors to open wider, it?s much easier to get into the second and third rows. Even with all three seating rows in place the Rogue has 9.4 cubic feet of cargo space. With the rear two rows folded it grows to 70 cubic feet.
Designers worked hard on the interior to maximize the roominess by changing shape, seat heights and other variables; the result not only looks good, but it is truly comfortable. I especially enjoyed the ?zero gravity? design seats. Like the Nissan Altima?s front seats, the specially designed seat provides extra support from the pelvis to the chest, helping reduce fatigue over long periods behind the wheel. Particularly important for me was that the front seats are heated. I use heated seats on all but the hottest days.
I like the instrumentation and placement of the controls, they are very intuitive. I especially like the Advanced Driver Assist Display ? the five-inch color screen in the center of the instrument cluster which displays a wide variety of information for the driver. The interior is filled with soft-touch surfaces, so nearly anywhere you touch the plastic surfaces is padded ? dash, doors, armrests, center armrest, etc.
Nissan has advanced their connectivity quotient with the new Nissanconnet? system designed to help the driver concentrate on driving and keep hands on the steering wheel, not buttons. It has functions like hands-free text-messaging and a variety of apps to aid the driver and entertain the passengers. Nissan expects the system to be in 1.5 million Nissans by 2015 and in all Nissans by 2017. The navigation system also includes a cool display that uses multiple cameras to show you what?s right around the Rogue. It looks as if you are looking down on the vehicle from above ? this makes it easier to maneuver in tight areas and see potential hazards.
The optional panoramic moonroof extends over the two front rows of seats. The front glass panel slides and tilts, while the rear glass panel is fixed. When in the open position, the front panel slides under the fixed second panel.
A 170-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with the Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) is the only drivetrain offered in the 2014 Nissan Rogue. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is a $1,350 option. Nissan?s CVT is very positive feeling especially when used on the ?Sport? mode setting. The only way to use engine braking, however, is to push the decent control on shifter, or pull the shifter into Low. I would have preferred steering wheel mounted paddle shifters or gated shifter linkage. Zero to 60 mph acceleration takes 8.9 seconds according to buff magazine figures.
Being frugal, I liked the idea of having an all-wheel drive vehicle that gets an EPA rating of 25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined. I actually averaged 27.8 mpg during my week?s stay in California, which included a few passes through the Santa Cruz Mountains and quite a bit of around town driving, both which tend to knock down the average.
The 2014 Nissan Rogue is available in three trim levels: S, SV and SL. The front-wheel drive versions are priced at $23,650; $25,350 and $29,140 respectively, including the destination charge. The S and SL models each have one available option package and the SV, which should be the volume leader, has three available packages adding features like the third row seating, run-flat tires, navigation and panoramic moonroof. A fully loaded Rogue SL AWD would top out at $32,270.
Some of the important new safety features, which are part of the SV and SL option packages, are Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning and Moving Object Detection. I think Blind Spot Monitoring is one of the most important new safety technologies, but I had trouble seeing the Nissan system which uses and indicator light on the A-pillar. I prefer the systems that have the indicator in the face of the side view mirrors.
I thought the previous generation Rogue was one of the best of the mid-level Crossover Utility vehicles; however the 2014 model is a major leap forward. It offers a good level of performance and fuel economy combined with a sophisticated look and on road presence. It?s quiet, comfortable and gives the feeling of being a quality upper-level product. It?s a must drive for compact SUV/crossover shoppers.