By Dan Tsuchiya
- Great mileage
- Sporty Handling
- Decent Value
- Lackluster acceleration
- Suspension a little crude below 20 MPH
- Seating not as comfortable as the competition
Sport utility vehicles, especially the front wheel drive kind, are essentially station wagons for those who don’t want to be seen in a station wagon. Whether it’s the perceived ruggedness or the more sporty looks, small SUVs have been a hot market for young urbanites ever since the RAV-4 and CRV entered the scene many years back. With gas prices remaining high and car shoppers looking to downsize with the recession, this segment of SUV’s has continued to blossom over the past few years.
We recently received the slightly redesigned Nissan Rogue SV front wheel drive, which comes with new bumpers that give the sport utility a less egg-shaped profile and gets rid of the Pokemon face, a criticism of the earlier Rogue. Does the redesigned Rogue SV make the grade in the $25,000 and under field of cute-utes? Read on…..
Next to sedans, this is probably the most crowded field of vehicles, with every major manufacturer at the table. The recipe is simple: take a small car from your line up, design an SUV body around it, make some minor suspension and drive train modifications, and cover your engineering costs by charging $3-$8k more per vehicle. Can you say great profitability?
The Rogue took its design origins from the larger Murano, while using the chassis of the compact Sentra. Like we mentioned before, the Rogue has shed its Pokemon face with a new front end, but the overall design remains the same. The Rogue features a high roofline, which makes for great headroom, but also has sides that come in to provide a sleeker look. Unfortunately, this slightly affects shoulder room for our back seat passenger, and the quarter window behind the rear side window is all but useless when looking to change lanes due to a thick pillar design. In Nissan’s defense, the thick pillars are there for side airbags. Given the choice between safety and viewing out the window, we say use the side mirror.
Let’s get this out of the way: the Rogue doesn’t drive like a Sentra, and it might actually drive better. There’s something about this SUV that creates a different feel, and we think it’s due to something as basic as seat position. Because of the higher roofline and stance of the Rogue, you sit in a commanding position above most passenger car traffic, while still retaining the benefits of a decent handling car chassis.
Run the Rogue within legal limits and it will return a combined city-highway mileage of 26 MPG. This comes from a combination of being somewhat lightweight (in comparison to the competition) and the use of the two speed (read simple) Xtronic CVT transmission, which delivers power efficiently under normal conditions. The Continuously Variable Transmission has been a Nissan hallmark since the inception of the Murano. The only downside is when you have to get on the accelerator, as it’s slow to react and gets a little noisy when pushed hard.
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