Nissan’s compact Rogue crossover SUV more station wagon than scamp

Based on the Sentra compact sedan, Nissan’s popular Rogue sport utility comes down solidly on the “car” side, rather than the “truck” side, of the crossover divide. With its sleek styling, decent fuel economy and comfortable cabin accommodations, the Rogue eschews hardcore SUV behavior in favor of a sort of station wagon gentility. This isn’t a machine for rock-hopping hijinks; rather, its car architecture delivers confident handling and a smooth highway ride, with little body lean through turns or bounciness on rough surfaces. On curvy country roads, the Rogue is an enjoyable plaything, abetted by responsive steering and strong brakes. Still, the Rogue offers enough ground clearance to make traversing rutted Forest Service roads a doable proposition, especially if equipped with all-wheel drive, like our test vehicle. Under way, the Rogue’s 2.4-liter, twin-cam four-cylinder exhibits a fair amount of vigor, at least around town. With 170 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque, acceleration decently peppy. On the highway, though, the car’s continuously variable transmission rears its head as a fly in the performance ointment. When more power is called for, say in a passing situation, the CVT sends the tach needle soaring with an accompanying cacophony of rather harsh engine sounds. The same situation occurs on steep interstate climbs. Still, cruising along on relatively even terrain finds the drivetrain an amiable companion. Interior ambience is generally subdued with little tire or road noise intruding into the cabin.

The leather-wrapped front buckets in our top-level, SL-packaged model were wonderfully comfortable and supportive, making long road trips a pleasurable pastime. The interior includes plenty of soft-touch materials that lend an up-market air to the surroundings. In typical Nissan fashion, the dash and controls are simple, well-organized and easy to use. There are plenty of storage bins and compartments for odds and ends, and plenty of cupholders for summer vacationing. Rear-seat leg room is merely adequate, at least for the long of limb. For kids, it’s likely just fine. Likewise, the cargo hold should easily contend with a family of four and their attendant travel necessities. The Rogue is due for a redesign later this year. In the meantime, the current version has plenty to please.

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