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ALL GROWN UP: Nissan’s redesigned 2014 Rogue crossover exudes newfound maturity

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The word “rogue” conjures up images of someone (or something) mischievous, stirring up trouble, but in a playful manner.

But that doesn’t describe Nissan’s all-new-for-2014 Rogue compact crossover. It’s anything but mischievous. And it’s not all that playful. It may be mild-mannered, but it’s a solid and welcome entry into an increasingly popular segment.

Its mature new look, replete with the curves and creases of Nissan’s current design ethic, supplants its vaguely goofy former look. It’s now handsomely modern, with more presence and panache.

The improvements carry over into the cabin as well, with a newfound aura of quality several steps above the previous version.

From the choice of materials to the interior’s overall comfort, the new Rouge approaches a level of luxury rarely found in this segment, especially at this price point.

Soft-touch surfaces abound from dash to doors, done up in contrasting tones that create a bright, inviting space.

Twin chrome-rimmed tach and speedometer are easy to read at a glance. Steering wheel-mounted controls perform audio, cruise and communications duties.

Nissan wisely kept it simple by limiting the number of buttons on the Rouge’s dash and console so the driver can pay attention to the main business at hand – driving.

Rogue 2014 de NissanThe seats deserve special mention, especially the front buckets. They’re cushy and yet supportive, designed for the long haul. The second-row bench now slides and reclines, while our SV tester came with the Family Package that consisted of third-row seating.

The Rogue’s powerplant is a carryover four-cylinder. Tied to a upgraded continuously variable automatic transmission, performance is generally adequate. But the payoff for its modest power output is its frugality at the pump: 25 mpg city and 32 highway is excellent for an all-wheel-drive crossover.

The suspension tuning tilts toward a supple highway ride, which means handling isn’t very sporty. But on the open road the Rogue blithely glides along with negligible wind and road noise.

With newfound space and comfort, near-luxury cabin, superb economy and striking looks, the Rogue is right on target for continued sales success. It aimed for the segment’s sweet spot, and hit it