KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/4/2011
Nissan's second-smallest Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) is designed to take on the popular Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. The 2012 Nissan Rogue crossover departs from the traditional quasi-SUV look popular with so many competitors and replaces it with a curvaceous carlike design. Like the CR-V and others in this class, the 2012 Nissan Rogue crossover is powered by a fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engine, offers the option of an on-demand all-wheel-drive system and can be had for less than $25,000. As this field is highly competitive, Nissan gives the 2012 Rogue CUV a healthy serving of standard and available features to help it stand out from such favorites as the Subaru Forester, Ford Escape and Hyundai Tucson. High-tech features such as its Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that aids it in both power and fuel management and the Around View Monitor are unique at this price point and showcase the best in Nissan's design and engineering. Straddling the line between wagon and small SUV, the 2012 Nissan Rogue is a good choice for those who need more room than a conventional 5-door car can provide, but don't want to sacrifice ride comfort, fuel economy or affordability.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you find the boxy look of the Ford Escape or the all-too-familiar styling of Toyota RAV4 leaves you cold, check out the 2012 Nissan Rogue. The Rogue's flowing exterior design is matched by an equally handsome interior full of cool and affordable features.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you like a really powerful engine or need off-road ability, you won't find either on the 2012 Rogue crossover. With no V6 engine or turbochargers to offer, the Rogue falls behind the Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4, and its all-wheel-drive system is intended strictly for on-pavement use.
What's New for 2012
For 2012, Nissan adds a Special Edition package to the Rogue lineup that includes steering-wheel audio controls, RearView monitor, a USB port, satellite radio, foglights and more. All 2012 Nissan Rogue crossovers also receive a new Sport mode switch for the CVT transmission, while the SL package gains the Around View Monitor that displays a 360-degree view outside the vehicle.
After spending a few days in the 2012 Nissan Rogue SV with all-wheel drive, we came away with mixed feelings. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine felt plenty peppy, but when we needed that extra burst of power for passing or climbing elevations, it just wasn't there. Nissan's Xtronic CVT transmission proved smooth and consistent, and definitely made the most of the little engine's powerband while returning good fuel economy in all driving conditions. Although the CVT is a gearless transmission, Nissan builds in artificial shift points that mimic a standard transmission. The only time the CVT's true nature is revealed is during wide-open throttle. In this condition, the CVT holds the engine's rpm steady as the vehicle accelerates, creating a loud and somewhat harsh engine note. The 2012 Nissan Rogue's "Intuitive" AWD is not a full-time system, sending torque to the rear wheels only when the fronts begin to slip. Though not intended for off-road use, the Rogue's AWD system is indispensable in snowy climes. Adding to the Rogue's handling ability is Nissan's Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), which is a fancy name for electronic traction and stability control. On winding back-country roads we found the 2012 Nissan Rogue quite happy to play, with good feedback through its electric power-assisted steering. Body lean and bounce were also quite carlike, an attribute we chalk up to the Rogue's Nissan Sentra underpinnings.
Sizeable Glove Box
The 2012 Nissan 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 myriad 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 2012 Rogue crossover's interior is typically Nissan, with simple and straightforward instruments, subtle seating fabric and lots of soft-touch finishes. There is a circular theme that carries over in the dash vents, instrument cluster and HVAC controls. Upper-level models feature steering-wheel controls for the audio and cruise that are logically arranged for quick and easy operation. The 2012 Rogue has a terrific set of comfortable contour-forming front seats that on SL trim are heated and covered in quality leather. Front-seat legroom is good for tall drivers, as is headroom. Unfortunately, the rear-seat passengers don't have the same luxury, especially when the front seats are pushed all the way back. Storage space is ample in the little Nissan Rogue and includes an oversized glove compartment as well as a hidden cargo area behind the rear seat. The Rogue's cargo hold includes mesh dividers and a plastic tub liner ideal for carrying wet or soiled clothing. If we have one gripe with the Rogue's design, it's the large D-pillar that, while creating a cool and sporty exterior look, creates a big blind spot for the driver.
Sharing its platform with the Nissan Sentra Sedan gives the 2012 Nissan Rogue the ride and handling of a car in the body of small SUV. With a front grille and lower air intakes vaguely reminiscent of the Murano CUV, and alloy wheels and chrome door skirts akin to Nissan's performance-oriented Maxima and 370Z, the Rogue appears to display the best styling elements of the Nissan lineup without favoring any single theme. The Rogue's exterior work continues with flush-fitting wraparound headlight and taillight assemblies, as well as color-coordinated door handles, bumpers and mirrors. SV trims get bigger wheel and tire packages, as well as more exterior enhancements including chrome exhaust finishers, roof rails and rear privacy glass.
Notable Standard Equipment
The base 2012 Nissan Rogue S has numerous convenient standard features, including steering-wheel-mounted buttons for cruise control, 4-way manually adjustable front seats, an auxiliary input jack and power windows, locks and mirrors. The SV trim adds a 6-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 2012 Nissan Rogue CUV 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
Stand-alone options for the base car include all-wheel drive and some dealer-installed items. The S Special Edition Package adds 16-inch alloy wheels, premium audio with 4.3-inch color display, foglights, satellite radio and the RearView Monitor. The SV has its options bundled into two well-equipped packages. The SV Premium Package adds automatic air conditioning, power sunroof, auto on/off headlights and Bosch navigation with touch-control screen and XM NavTraffic, while the SL Package includes foglights, HID headlights, Around View monitor, 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 2012 Nissan Rogue CUV is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-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 @ 6,000 rpm
175 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/28 (FWD), 22/26 (AWD)
A base front-wheel-drive 2012 Nissan Rogue S has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $22,500, while an SV with all-wheel drive, leather, moonroof, premium sound and all the bells and whistles will easily exceed $30,000. A comparably equipped Hyundai Tucson with navigation costs a bit less, but a similar 2012 Toyota RAV4 Limited or Honda CR-V EX costs about the same as the 2012 Nissan Rogue crossover. 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 Nissan 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.