By KBB.com Editors
With the wild roller coaster ride first of gas prices and then the economy, consumers find themselves looking towards more cost-effective transportation. It's no surprise, therefore, that so many automakers have joined the small-crossover party, offering SUV-like vehicles with much more agreeable fuel economy. Last year Nissan decided to throw its hat into the ring, introducing the aggressively-styled and nimble Rogue. The base model is comparatively bare, but the long list of available features, including Bluetooth and all-wheel drive, means that the Rogue can be customized to suit just about any lifestyle. The Rogue stands to compete in a rapidly growing segment, against the likes of the established and successful Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and the redesigned Saturn VUE. With competitors like these and a lack of available V6 or navigation, the Rogue's price and fuel economy may be its best selling points.
The 2009 Nissan Rogue starts around $21,000 – slightly less than the Honda CR-V but more expensive than the Hyundai Tucson. The Rogue's fuel economy, on the other hand, bests the category-leading CR-V and is neck-and-neck with the Toyota RAV4.
If having a V6 powertrain or factory-installed navigation are at the top of your list, you will have to look elsewhere, as the Rogue does not offer either. The Ford Escape, Saturn VUE, Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 may be better options.
New for 2009 are auto speed-sensing locks, a fold-flat passenger seat, new center console tray and mood lighting on SL trims. A drive computer, outside temperature display and dual visor vanity mirror illumination is also added to SL trims.
Driving Impressions In the SL all-wheel-drive (AWD) version that we tested, acceleration with the Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) was smooth and consistent. With this "gearless" transmission, the car maintained an even...and very smooth pace down the road, although, during harder acceleration, such as in passing and through some hilly areas, the engine could easily be heard. Winding, curving back-country roads were easy to negotiate, thanks to the electric power-assisted steering, and the suspension kept body roll well under control. The "Intuitive" AWD (as Nissan calls it), distributes the driving torque between the front and rear wheels as needed, and would be particularly helpful in areas of bad weather and slippery conditions. Also beneficial in such conditions is the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with traction control, which helps keep the vehicle headed the direction the driver intends and thus reduces the chances of losing control on slick surfaces.
Sizeable Glove Box
The Rogue's glove compartment is generously sized and can fit up to 34 CDs, a nice feature for those who can't travel without large music collections. Additionally, a removable partition allows you to customize the space to fit a myriad of items.
Nissan's Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
Nissan is one of the few automakers to still embrace and refine CVT technology, and this second-generation transmission is incredibly smooth and gives the Rogue decent performance as well as good fuel economy.
The interior is simple yet effective, with most of the necessary controls within easy reach of the driver. Cruise control buttons are placed on the steering wheel as an added convenience, although a few control functions are located somewhat awkwardly. Storage space is abundant, with perhaps the most useful interior feature being the oversized glove compartment that can swallow half a cubic foot of just about anything. Fitting into what Nissan calls "stealth ultra-functionality," a hidden cargo compartment in the rear, with plastic lining and mesh dividers, can store wet and dirty items out of sight, great for small things that might otherwise roll around loose.
Built on the same platform as the economical Sentra, the front of the 2009 Nissan Rogue S is graced by a body-colored bumper and grille flanked on either side by halogen headlights and topped with a low-swept hood and windshield. Looking lean and muscular, the sides extend over the wheel wells and the taillights wrap around to the rear liftgate. The overall effect gives the vehicle the look of Nissan's larger Murano SUV in miniature. Opting for the more upscale SL trim will add 17-inch alloy wheels (the base Rogue has 16-inch steel wheels), roof rails, body-colored outside mirrors, stainless steel exhaust and rear privacy glass.
The base 2009 Nissan Rogue S has numerous convenient standard features, including steering wheel-mounted buttons for cruise control, four-way manually-adjustable front seats, an auxiliary input jack and power windows, locks and mirrors. The SL trim adds rear air ducts, two 12-volt power outlets and a six-way manually-adjustable driver's seat. Storage space in both models is abundant, with a cavernous glove compartment and removable partition to help organize random stuff, and a large center console that could swallow a tissue box or small purse. For occupant protection, the Rogue has front, front-side and side-curtain airbags, along with a rollover sensor. Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and electronic traction control are also standard.
To keep the base Rogue around $21,000, many desirable features are sold as packaged options (and mostly on the SL trim), including a leather steering wheel, shift knob and seats, roof-rail crossbars, fog lights, an auto-dimming mirror, Bluetooth, xenon headlights and remote-sensing start and entry. A dealer-installed portable navigation unit is available on all trims. Options to upgrade the audio system include a Bose 7-speaker system and Nd Richbass subwoofer, six-disc CD/MP3 player, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and XM Satellite Radio. Only the SL trim level is available with the comprehensive Premium Package (which includes paddle shifters for the CVT) and the optional power glass moonroof. The all-wheel-drive system is available on both trim levels.
The 2009 Nissan Rogue is offered in S and SL trims and both are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine matched to an Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that is well-suited for everyday driving. A manual mode is offered on the SL trim, along with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. For those who need a vehicle that can tackle a variety of driving conditions and road surfaces, choosing all-wheel drive results in only minimal reductions in fuel economy. Due to more stringent emission rules, California models produce slightly less power, rated at 167 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque.
2.5-liter in-line 4
170 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
167 horsepower @6000 rpm (California)
175 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
170 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/27 (FWD), 21/26 (AWD)
By Nona on Friday, September 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 125,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Buyer BEWARE! The transmission CVT went down on me twice! Had it under warranty and the replaced it twice! And now, as soon as the warranty expired it's gone again! Never buying Nissan again!"
By Rosi on Tuesday, September 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 120,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable to drive, and comfortable seat."
Cons: "doesn't have the "take off power" that I like"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have 120,000 miles on my Rogue. I love Road trips and it has carried me on many of them. My Rogue has never let me down. I have taken care of regular maintenance, i.e. oil changes and tire rotations and One tune up. I'm on my 3rd set of tires and my Rogue doesn't sound or act like it is giving up on traveling any time soon. Another writer mentioned overheating the transmission when traveling. I have never experienced that issue but have only driven up to 8 hours at a time, with most of that being in the mountains of West Virginia. Highway travel up to 6 hours has never been a problem with my Rogue. Guess I've been fortunate."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By BG on Wednesday, August 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 56,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, Good mileage, roomy"
Cons: "Engine noise, stalls out when hot"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"The car runs great on flatland and at 70MPH. Recently on a couple of trips west, we found that the car does not like the mountains or being pushed hard for long periods of time. Found a forum online that talks about this issue. Once the transmission gets hot, it will go into what is called limp mode until t cools down, which means pulling over and turning off the car. If you do not pull over, the car will keep losing power until it is undrivable. This is to bad, as I love the car, the fit and finish is great and it is very comfortable to drive. I also average 28MPG. However, I will be trading it as I have to travel, and cannot trust it. It needs a transmission cooler to fix this problem."
17 people out of 24 found this review helpful
By oblong on Saturday, August 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 84,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "great idea, wrong care"
Cons: "cvt, thought would be pro is con"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"had transmission problems, found out after getting quote of 3900 dollars from mechanic still under warranty. Took to dealership and got call that problem was transmission seal and get this seal was not part of transmission 1900 dollars please. Dealer stepped in and only had to pay 300 but now I don't trust the cvt transmission"
8 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Bought one in May 2014 on Thursday, August 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive and handles heavy rain extremely well"
Cons: "Still to be determined"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I traded in my 2003 CRV for this Rogue, best decision I have made. Not only do I get better gas mileage 28.3, I have all the bells and whistles. I have not driven in the snow yet,so I am hopeful it handles as well in the snow as it does in the downpours we have had this summer."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By oldmil on Saturday, August 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,655overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "handeling and pick up is great"
Cons: "poor quality interior and horn."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I had the 2008 Rouge when it first came out. Everything on it was better. The interior carpet was high quality, the horn was a full sound, not a beep like the 2012. The color red was beautiful, not like the 2012 color."
7 people out of 13 found this review helpful