By KBB.com Editors
While Nissan is well known for its mid-size and full-size SUVs, they have only recently entered into the red-hot compact crossover SUV market. With its introduction in 2008, the Rogue earned mixed reviews mainly for its polarizing styling and somewhat Spartan interior. For 2011, Nissan has traded up, giving the Rogue a new look, a new interior and far more in the way of affordable creature comforts. Under the new skin, the same fuel efficient four-cylinder engine and CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) provide plenty of pep, and the available all-wheel drive model is ideal for snowy climes. With heavy hitters such as the Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4 already well established, and new comers like the all-new Kia Sportage, and Hyundai Tucson, the Rogue will have its work cut out. But, Nissan loyalists have always been on the cutting edge of style and performance, and they represent a larger audience the Rogue might yet have a chance to win over.
If you're unimpressed with truck-like boxy styling of some compact SUVs, the Rogue's flowing sheet metal should definitely catch your eye. A combination of impressive fuel economy, affordable price and cutting edge options only serve to sweeten the deal.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you need the towing and hauling power afforded by a V6 engine, you won't find one on the Rogues lengthy options list. Those who require serious off-road ability will be better off in Subaru Forester or Jeep Liberty.What's New for 2011
For 2011, the Rogue receives a newly styled front end, new wheels and more available features including navigation, rearview monitor, USB port for iPod connectivity, 18-inch wheels and automatic climate control.Driving It Driving Impressions
We spent a few days testing the Rogue SV with all-wheel-drive and the SL Package and found that the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine provided plenty of pep. Acceleration was aided by Nissan's Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) which provided smooth and consistent shifts in all driving conditions. Although the CVT is a gearless transmission, Nissan builds in artificial shift points that mimic a standard transmission. Only under wide open throttle, when the engine's rpms are held steady as the vehicle accelerates, did the CVT reveal itself by causing the engine to sound harsh. Nissan's "Intuitive" AWD (as Nissan calls it), distributes the driving torque between the front and rear wheels as needed, and should prove particularly helpful in areas of bad weather and slippery conditions. Also beneficial in such conditions is the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with traction control. VDC helps keep the vehicle headed the direction the driver intends and thus reduces the chances of losing control on slick surfaces. We found that 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.Favorite Features
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 Rogue's simple and efficient interior exhibits a sporty attitude that permeates all Nissan products. Circular themes repeat across the dashboard, from the protruding circular dash vents to the large round instrument gauges and HVAC dials. For ease of use, steering wheel mounted controls for the cruise and audio are logically placed within easy reach. The Rogue features an abundance of storage space including an oversized glove compartment and a hidden cargo compartment behind the rear seat. The cargo compartment features mesh dividers and plastic lining perfect for carrying wet or dirty gear. Nissan's provides the Rogue a set of well-bolstered front seats, which are heated and covered in leather when the SL Package is ordered. Legroom up front is generous, but with the front seats pushed to the end of their travel, rear seat passengers have precious little room to spare. If there is one short coming for the Rogue, it's the rather large blind spot created by the high swept D-pillars.Exterior
Although it shares a common platform with the Nissan Sentra, there is little in the Rogue's styling to suggest its passenger car heritage. The new front grille and lower air intakes bear more than a passing resemblance to Nissan Murano, while the new wheels and chrome door skirts seem to mimic Nissan's performance champions, the 370Z and Maxima. Wraparound head lamp and tail lamp assemblies further push the Rogue's image as a performance crossover. The SV trim adds 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, while the limited production Krom Edition spices things up by adding unique front fascia, upper and lower grilles and fog lights, as well as 18-inch alloy wheels and a chrome clad center-mounted exhaust finisher.Notable Standard Equipment
The base 2011 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 SV trim adds a six-way power driver's seat, driver's seat power lumbar support, RearView Monitor, Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System, and Nissan Intelligent Key. 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.Notable Optional Equipment
Standalone option for the base car include all-wheel-drive and some dealer installed items. The SV has its options bundled into two well-equipped packages. The SV Premium Package adds automatic air conditioning, power sunroof, auto on/off headlamps and Bosch navigation with touch control screen and XM NavTraffic, while The SL Package includes fog lamps, HID headlamps, dual heated power mirrors, 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seating surfaces, heated front seats and Bose audio with seven speakers and separate Nd Richbass subwoofer.Under the Hood
The 2011 Nissan Rogue is offered in S, Krom and SV trims, all powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine matched to an Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that is well-suited for everyday driving. 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.
2.5-liter in-line 4
170 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
175 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 (FWD), 22/26 (AWD)
A base two-wheel-drive Rogue S has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $21,500, while an SV with all-wheel drive, leather, moonroof, premium sound and all the bells and whistles exceeds $30,000. The Krom Edition starts around $26,500 and is pretty much loaded with few option choices. A comparably equipped Hyundai Tucson with navigation costs a bit less, but a similar Toyota RAV4 Limited or Honda CR-V EX costs about the same as the Rogue. To get the best price on your Rogue, be sure to check its Fair Purchase Price which will give you an idea of what consumers in your area are currently paying for the Rogue. Over time, the Rogue is expected to retain better resale values than the Ford Escape, but lag behind the Hyundai Tucson and Honda CR-V.