2009 Nissan Rogue Review
The Rogue is Nissan’s entry into the competitive small-sport-utility segment. Like most of its competition, the Rogue is car-based, available with front- or all-wheel drive, and relatively fuel efficient compared with the truck-based sport-utility vehicles of the past. The Rogue is built on the same platform as the economy-car Sentra, for which we’ve never had much love, but the Rogue manages to transcend its plebeian roots.
Unlike some of its competition, the Rogue is only available with four-cylinder power. Despite not having an available V-6, the 170-hp Rogue will still be quick enough for most; it is quicker than its four-cylinder competition. Connected to the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that instead of shifting gears, seamlessly moves through a spread of gear ratios. To the uninitiated driver, the CVT will seem much like a traditional automatic transmission—slip the shifter into drive and go. But spend more time with the CVT, and its smooth, shiftless power delivery will become apparent. The transmission can make the engine drone annoyingly under maximum acceleration, but most drivers won’t be flat-footing their Rogue very often. A Rogue equipped with all-wheel drive delivers EPA fuel-economy ratings of 21 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway; the front-drive version returns 22 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway.
Introduced in 2008, the Rogue finished in third place in a comparison test of nine small sport-utility vehicles, behind the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. We praised the Rogue for its excellent road manners, sporty handling, upmarket looks, and quick acceleration. What held the Rogue back was a gloomy interior, a smallish back seat, and the CVT, which is a love-it-or-leave-it proposition.
The Rogue offers a sporty, handsome alternative to some of its wallflower competition. Rear-seat space and interior plastics might not be class leading, but the rest of the package and the excellent road manners make the Rogue a serious contender in its class.
What’s New for 2009
For 2009, the Rogue adds a few features, including speed-sensitive automatic door locks, a folding front-passenger seat, a driver-seatback map pocket, and a new console tray. The SL trim level adds interior mood lighting, a trip computer with outside temperature, and luggage-compartment cargo hooks. Leather trim is now optional on front-drive SL models, and Bluetooth hands-free phone integration and keyless start are added to the Premium package for all front-drive Rogues.
Highlights and Recommendations
The Rogue is offered in two trim levels: S and SL. Rogue S models start at $22,000 and come very well equipped with power windows and locks, air conditioning, and cruise control. SL models cost about $1500 more and add larger aluminum wheels, painted exterior trim, and tinted glass. All-wheel drive is optional on the S and SL for an additional $1200. Aside from the minor differences in standard equipment between the two trim levels, the SL offers more optional equipment and can be tarted out more than the S, something to keep in mind when you’re shopping.
Dual front airbags, front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags, curtain side-impact airbags, front-seatbelt pretensioners, front-seat active head restraints, anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control, and tire-pressure monitoring are standard on all Rogue models.