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12 Best Family Cars: 2014 Nissan Rogue

By Keith Buglewicz on February 11, 2014 8:55 AM
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Into the spotlight for Nissan's compact SUV

Here's a crazy statistic: The previous-generation Nissan Rogue was consistently one of the top 5 best-selling vehicles in its compact SUV class. We say crazy, because the Rogue lacks the name recognition of competitors like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Yet year after year, it goes about its business, quietly outselling the heck out of most of the competitors in a very crowded field.

The all-new-for-2014 Nissan Rogue aims to up its visibility with sharper styling, clever options, and one of the few third rows in the compact-SUV class. And the newest Nissan Rogue is hard to ignore as a family car. It drives well, gets good fuel economy, and has a solid set of standard features, including Bluetooth, a USB port, and Nissan's nifty Easy Fill Tire Alert, which honks the horn when the tires are inflated to the right pressure. Like the other Nissans in this test, the Rogue was surprisingly good at accommodating a rear-facing booster seat while still giving front passengers good legroom.

That said, the Nissan Rogue wasn't without criticism. Some felt that the Rogue should also offer a rear-seat entertainment system, like the Honda CR-V does. And that third row? We were practically unanimous in declaring it useless for anything but the utmost gotta-carry-one-more emergencies. Still, the good far outweighs the bad here, and the Rogue will certainly remain a compelling choice for young families looking for practical, comfortable and inexpensive transportation.

Key Family Car Strength

Nissan's Divide-N-Hide cargo management system is definitely handy. It does many times better than just offering under-floor storage. The floor itself can be reconfigured to be lower, higher, or divided into shelves. It's standard on all trims, and a much better use of the area behind the second row than the optional third row.

Key Family Car Weakness

We're sure Nissan would've wanted this to be on the "Key Family Car Strength" category, but in reality, the third row is pretty awful. There's no legroom, very little headroom, and kids small enough to get comfortable back there should be in a booster, which won't fit anyhow. About the best thing we can say is that on S and SV trims you can save money by just not getting it, and it's not available on high-end SL trims. If you absolutely, positively, can't live without a 3-row SUV, then just step up to the Pathfinder or another vehicle instead.

Model Range

With just a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine available on all models, the Nissan Rogue SUV lineup is fairly simple. The bottom rung S trim includes Bluetooth, a backup camera, and the clever Divide-N-Hide cargo system, for a price of $23,350. You can add the 3rd-row seat package for $1,190, and get run-flat tires and rear privacy glass as part of the deal. Moving up to the SV adds nicer looking aluminum-alloy wheels, push-button ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a power driver's seat for $25,090. The 3rd-row option costs $940 in the SV, and you have a moonroof available for $1,320. The premium-level SL trim adds leather seats, a navigation system, the Around View Monitor, and larger alloy wheels for a starting price of $28,930. The Premium Package for the SL adds a panoramic moonroof, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, LED headlights, blind-spot warning, and Nissan's Moving Object Detection system for $1,990. All-wheel drive is available on all models for an extra $1,350. Prices include the $860 destination charge.

Family Friendliness

Like the Altima and Pathfinder, the Nissan Rogue surprised us with its ability to accommodate a rear-facing child seat in the second row, while still giving the front passenger good legroom -- that's a big family-car plus. Unfortunately, the lower anchors were notably more difficult to use than in other vehicles in our test, thanks to being buried between the stiff seat cushions. The upper tethers were better. As for the third row, there's no LATCH point there, so we didn't even try installing a booster. At least Nissan made the SUV's miniscule third row easy to get to, for whatever it's worth. We were also surprised that there is no rear-seat entertainment system available in the Rogue. Granted, it's a bit of a rarity, but Honda offers one in the CR-V, and Nissan could've gotten a jump on the rest of the competition by offering it. Front-seat passengers had no complaints, with comfortable seats and an easy-to-use dash.

Cargo and Storage

Forget about putting anything behind the optional third row -- the cargo space there is useless. Instead, just fold it down, and you have a good cargo area, with a flat floor that's low enough to the ground that loading it isn't going to strain your back. But what really makes the cargo area excel here is the Divide-N-Hide cargo-management system, our favorite thing about the Rogue.

In front, the small item storage area is decent. There's the usual array of cupholders, center console bins, and door pockets, but we loved the massive glovebox. 

On the Road

The 2014 Nissan Rogue gets to speed at about the same pace as the rest of its competition, that is to say, slightly better than leisurely. Once at speed, the Rogue felt fine, and some thought the compact SUV was even sporty feeling in corners. The rear view is poor thanks to the small windows and thick pillars, and the side mirrors need to be bigger to fully compensate. Luckily, there's blind-spot detection on the options list. There was also quite a bit of road noise coming from the rear of the Rogue, more than in other similar vehicles.

In parking lots, the Rogue would benefit from the Around View Monitor. Sadly, our test vehicle wasn't equipped with it. The backup camera is fine though, and offers more than one view. However, the Rogue didn't feel as parking-lot nimble as other vehicles in this group, and felt surprisingly ponderous in tight spaces.

Final Word

There's lots to like about the 2014 Nissan Rogue as a family car, just skip the gimmicky third row.

More 2014 Nissan Rogue

Right out of the gate, Nissan's redesigned compact SUV earned spots on our lists of 10 Best SUVs Under $25,000 and 10 Best All-Wheel-Drive Cars and SUVs Under $25,000. Ready to go Rogue? Build and price your own 2014 Nissan Rogue right here at KBB.com to unlock its Fair Purchase Price, 5-Year Cost to Own and more.

 

12 Best Family Cars 2014

 

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