Nissan made big changes to the Rogue for 2014. The compact SUV has a fresh new look, shedding some of its mini-Murano lines and looking more upscale than the previous generation did. Another huge change for 2014 is that the Rogue is now available with three rows of seats, despite the vehicle's wheelbase only gaining about half an inch. Nissan attributes the ability to do this to careful adjustments in interior packaging. 

There is only one engine and transmission combination available, and it's the same pair as it was last year: a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter inline-4 with a continuously variable transmission. That is one of the most powerful 4-cylinder engines you can get in a compact SUV. Another impressive feat: the front-wheel-drive Rogue's fuel economy is rated at 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, which is a big step up from last year's 23/28, and is the best fuel economy in the segment. (Like the third row, all-wheel drive is also optional.) Pricing is competitive as well: the base price for the Rogue S is $23,650, including destination. The two other trim levels are the SV and the top-of-the-line SL.

Safe and Sound

Our long-termer for the next year or so is the SL model with all-wheel drive. It's equipped with plenty of creature comforts, including leather seats, front seat heaters (the driver's seat is power-adjustable), dual-zone climate control and heated side mirrors. It also has a lot of safety equipment, such as blind-spot warning, hill-start assist, hill descent control, lane departure warning, front, side and side-impact airbags, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Our Cayenne Red Metallic Rogue has Nissan's fantastic Around View Monitor, which makes parallel parking and parking at malls a lot easier. Speaking of helpful technology, this Rogue has navigation, which uses a 7-inch screen in the dash, Bluetooth and voice recognition for the nav and for audio systems. It also has some cool features to help with storing and organizing gear, like the Divide-N-Hide cargo system and a second row that slides 9 inches forward and back. The as-tested price for all these goodies: $32,615 including destination.

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Even though the Rogue has been in the compact SUV segment since 2008, this all-new generation is one of the newest kids on the block, and we are eager to see how the new model competes in a very competitive segment. How does it hold up against popular vehicles like the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4 and the all-new Jeep Cherokee? It looks more elegant than the previous Rogue and the list of equipment is impressive, but how does that all hold up in the real world over time? We were really impressed by the fuel economy numbers, and will find out how close the real-world fuel economy gets to the all-wheel-drive model's 25/32 EPA rating. We are also looking forward to a year of road trips, daily commutes, errand runs and family vacations in one of Nissan's coolest new models. We'll let you know what we learn along the way.

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