2014 Nissan Rogue Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
Agile SUV rebuilt from the ground-up.
The 2014 Nissan Rogue marks the debut of the second generation of this compact crossover that seats five (or seven with an optional third row). Based on a car platform, the 2014 Nissan Rogue is available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
The 2014 Nissan Rogue was redesigned from the ground up, starting with a new, global platform. Dimensions have been slightly tweaked: the 2014 Rogue is an inch-and-a-half wider, and rides on a wheelbase about a half-inch longer. And although the overall length is about an inch shorter, Nissan has done a good job reconfiguring the Rogue's space to eke out slightly more head, leg room and hip room over its predecessor.
Previously only available as a five-seater, the 2014 Rogue offers optional third-row seating, which brings maximum capacity to seven. However, the third-row seats are small and cramped, suitable only for small children or for carrying adults short distances in a pinch. The second row is quite comfortable, and now has the ability to slide and recline.
While the previous Rogue fell short when it came to cargo space, the 2014 Rogue is much improved. The 2014 Rogue offers a maximum of 70.0 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded down, much more than the previous generation. With all seats in place, the five-seat Rogue offers 32 cubic feet of cargo capacity, more than what's found in the Chevrolet Equinox and only slightly less than that of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. The seven-seat Rogue has just 9.4 cubic feet of cargo space available when all three rows of seats are in place.
Utility in the Rogue is enhanced by numerous convenient storage features, including an oversized glove compartment, a large center console and a variety of cupholders and cubbies.
All Rogue models use the same four-cylinder engine and CVT. Carrying over from the previous Rogue is Nissan's 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque, with some minor tweaks for 2014 for improved efficiency. It's paired with an updated Continuously Variable Transmission, or CVT, which Nissan claims is 10 percent more fuel-efficient than the previous iteration.
Behind the wheel, the Rogue offers carlike ride and handling. We think it's one of the better handling small SUVs. Ride quality is improved over the previous generation, and the 2014 Rogue is quieter, although we noticed moderate tire noise.
Towing capacity on the 2014 Nissan Rogue is now 1,000 pounds, down from 1,500 on the previous generation vehicle, both small numbers. If towing is one of your requirements, we'd suggest you look elsewhere. With relatively low ground clearance, the Rogue is not suited for off-roading. However, if you're looking for an agile, roomy small crossover with good handling and configurable cargo space, the Rogue is a solid choice.
Smartphone connectivity is available via the NissanConnect app, which allows users to access their phone's data, stream audio, use social media with compatible devices. Other technology includes optional safety features like blind spot detection, lane departure warning and moving object detection.
In addition to a redesigned exterior and interior, a new platform lies underneath the Rogue's swoopy panels (known as the Common Module Family architecture, or CMF). For the first time, the Nissan Rogue will be built in the U.S., with vehicles rolling out of Nissan's assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. Previous models were assembled in Japan.
Fuel economy for the 2014 Nissan Rogue is also improved, with EPA ratings of 26/33 mpg City/Highway with front-wheel drive, 25/32 mpg City/Highway with all-wheel drive.
Competitors to the 2014 Nissan Rogue include compact crossovers Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson and Toyota RAV4.
The 2014 Nissan Rogue comes in three trim levels: S, SV and SL. (All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices. The dealer sets the price. MSRPs are subject to change without notice, and do not include $860 for destination and handling.)
Rogue S ($22,790) comes with manual air conditioning, cloth upholstery, tilt steering wheel with multifunction controls, six-way manually adjustable front seats, cruise control, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, a 4-speaker audio system with USB and auxiliary audio ports, a 40/20/40 split-folding reclining second-row seat with center pass-through, trip computer, rearview monitor and 16-inch steel wheels with covers. Rogue S AWD ($23,840) adds all-wheel drive. The Rogue S Family Package ($1,190) adds a third row seat, privacy glass and run-flat tires.
Rogue SV ($24,490) and Rogue SV AWD ($25,840) upgrade to dual-zone automatic climate control, upgraded cloth upholstery, power driver seat, fold-flat front passenger seat and add a 6-way power driver's seat with lumbar, pushbutton start, a six-speaker audio system with satellite radio capability, Bluetooth, the NissanConnect interface, automatic headlights, roof rails and 17-inch alloy wheels. The SV Premium package ($1,420) adds navigation with voice recognition, an upgraded 7-inch color touchscreen, the NissanConnect interface, 360-degree camera, power liftgate, heated outside mirrors, blind spot detection, lane departure warning and moving object detection. The Family Package ($940) adds the third-row bench and run-flat tires.
Rogue SL ($28,280) and Rogue SL AWD ($29,630) upgrade to leather upholstery and add heated front seats, a Bose 9-speaker audio system, a larger touchscreen with navigation, 360-degree camera, a power liftgate, heated outside mirrors and fog lights. The SL Premium Package ($1,990) adds a power panoramic moonroof, LED headlights with auto-leveling feature, forward collision warning, blind spot detection, lane departure warning and moving object detection. Third-row seating is not available on SL trims.
Safety features standard on all models include dual front airbags, front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags, roof-mounted side curtain airbags, ABS with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution (EBD), traction control and electronic stability control.
For 2014, Nissan Rogue has been completely redesigned. The styling is still swoopy, but lines are now more angular and athletic. The previous wedge shape is gone, replaces by a more upright, symmetrical silhouette.
The front fascia uses the new signature Nissan grille, which forms a deep, angular U-shape around the Nissan badge. The face is unique to the Rogue, but shares similarities with Nissan's other SUVs, the Murano and the Pathfinder. Deep, dual V-shaped lines run the length of the hood, the inner lines stemming from the grille's distinctive U shape, and the outer lines a continuation of the sharp distinctive LEDs that frame the headlamps, which resemble sideways check marks.
From the side, you can see the Rogue's steeply raked windshield, which helps with airflow. The crossover's stance is lower than before and looks more planted (this also comes at expense of decreased ground clearance, however). Fender flares are sculpted and defined. A center line flows from the front fender and through the front door handle, making a sharp Z shape in front of the rear door handle before curving down into the rear fender flare. It's as if Zorro had left his mark in the sheet metal.
The rear-end remains pleasantly curved, not boxy like many crossovers and SUVs. Tail lamps and rear bumper use a variety of angular, geometric shapes to give it a more athletic look. Tail lamps have LED accents that mimic the check-mark shape of the front LEDs.
Interior materials of the 2014 Rogue are improved over the last generation, though there is still an abundance of hard plastics on the dash, doors and console.
Bold interior lines wrap around from the instrument panel to the front doors, and run down the sides of the center stack. Front and center is the Rogue's touchscreen, which on S and SV models is small, and provides access to audio controls. SV models equipped with the Premium Package and SL trims get an upgraded, 7-inch touchscreen, along with navigation, a voice recognition feature, and the NissanConnect interface, which allows users to pair their smartphones, provided they download the NissanConnect app on their devices. NissanConnect uses the phone's cellular signal to stream audio via Pandora and more.
We found the NissanConnect app was intuitive to use. Navigation worked fine also, and voice recognition was mostly accurate, though not always (most systems from all manufacturers can be hit-and-miss). Despite the touchscreen, there are still numerous buttons on the center stack including preset, audio functions, source, volume and others. These look a bit dated, both because of the font and the hard plastic look. Also, even upgraded touchscreen seems too small compared to what other car companies offer, like the large MyLink screen available on the Chevrolet Equinox.
Storage for small items up front is adequate, with two center cupholders, a storage tray behind the gear shifter, and door pockets deep enough to hold a large-sized water bottle or mug.
In front of the driver is a thin film transistor (TFT) electronic display, the largest Nissan has made to date. It allows the driver to cycle through various information screens, including mpg, tire pressure and navigation information (on cars so equipped). It's flanked by two analog gauges, which are attractive and easy to read, with white luminous markings on a black background. Front seats are comfortable, and use Nissan's Zero Gravity design, which uses a unique construction to make the driver and front passenger feel as if they're almost suspended in the air. They're soft and cushy, yet firm and supportive. At a Nissan display that contained seats from both the 2014 Rogue and the current Honda CR-V, it was clear after sitting in both that the Rogue had the advantage. By comparison, the Honda seat felt hard and unsupportive. We preferred the fabric seats in dark colors; the light beige fabric upholstery looks like it would show dirt easily. Second-row seats are comfortable for the class, and offer a reasonable amount of support. Second-row legroom measure 37.9 inches, close to the Honda CR-V's 38.3 inches and a tad more than the Toyota RAV4's 37.2 inches. Head room comes in at 38.5 (or 36.6 with the optional moonroof), again, close to the CR-V's 38.3 inches, but shy of the Toyota RAV4's 39.8 inches (38.9 with the Toyota's optional moonroof). Rogue's toe space under the front seats is also plentiful.
The optional third row will fit two more people, but the extra seats are small and cramped, and are best only for carrying small children short distances. Third-row legroom measures only 31.4 inches, and headroom comes in at 34.6 inches, with or without the moonroof. The third row is not available on SL models.
Cargo space is much improved in the 2014 Nissan Rogue, up to a maximum of 70 cubic feet with the second row folded flat. With the second-row seats up, Rogue offers a maximum of 32 cubic feet, or a modest 9.4 cubic feet with the optional third row in place. This brings it more in line with the Honda CR-V, with a maximum 70.9 cubic feet with the seats down, though CR-V easily bests the Rogue with 37.2 cubic feet with the rear seats in place. The Toyota RAV4 beats them both, with a maximum of 73.4 cubic feet, and 38.4 cubic feet with the seats in place. The Chevrolet Equinox is the least roomy of these, with a maximum of 63.7 cubic feet, and 31.5 cubic feet behind the second row.
Not only does the 2014 Nissan Rogue have more space than before, it's organized more conveniently. Second-row seats now fold flat, instead of partially flat as before. The cargo floor can be raised, allowing for about five inches or so of hidden storage underneath. Also, a new piece in the front of the cargo floor flips up, so that dirty or muddy items can be separated from the rest of the trunk. The removable piece is washable/wipeable on one side (carpeted on the other). An optional tonneau cover keeps everything out of sight.
Rogue's 2.5-liter engine makes 170 horsepower and is fine for everyday commuting or running errands around town. Acceleration is smooth, but power is only moderate off the line. We had to floor it when merging or passing to get enough oomph.
Some of that might be due to the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), which takes a while to spool up. This current version has been tweaked for the 2014 Rogue, and Nissan says it improves fuel economy by up to 10 percent. But like all CVTs, this one feels elastic. Aside from times when instant power is needed, most people won't notice the difference between the Rogue's CVT and a traditional automatic transmission.
The Rogue drives more like a car than an SUV, and Nissan has done a good job improving ride and handling over the previous generation. Before, the Rogue could feel busy on bumpy pavement, and sharp ruts could give passengers a jolt. Nissan addressed this in part with a new technology called Active Ride Control, which keeps the car more firmly planted over bumps when traveling at speed of 25 mph or greater. There are no mechanical enhancements to the suspension, rather, the Rogue modulates the throttle over bumps to compensate. We tried an exercise in a closed-off parking lot, driving over identical speed bumps at 15, 20 and 25 miles per hour. At 25 mph, the bounce-back was noticeably reduced, although when going back over at closer to 35, it still gave us quite a jolt. The system can help, but it can't defy the laws of physics, either.
Another new technology on the 2014 Rogue is Nissan's Active Trace Control, which helps to reduce understeer (or plowing) in wet weather by pulling the car to the inner corner of a turn. We tested this on a wet skid pad in a giant parking lot, and could feel the system pulling us in as we began to lose traction.
The electric-assist steering is comfortable around town and on the highways, and is responsive, but not particularly communicative. Because the Rogue lacks variable ratio steering, we found in the twistys that we had to give it an extra crank to get it around the corners. Steering is variable effort, however, which means it will feel easier to turn in straight-line and slow-speed driving, and heavier around turns at highway speeds.
Brakes have been re-tuned in the 2014 Nissan Rogue to feel more comfortable and less aggressive. Nissan engineers told us that previous Rogue owners felt the brakes engaged too quickly. As a result, the brake pedal on the new Rogue has much more travel in the top end. While this might be good for coasting to a stop or slogging through traffic, we found we really had to bury our foot in the pedal to get the brakes to bite.
In the previous-generation Rogue, interior noise was quite noticeable, but this seems to have been mostly fixed. The cabin seemed quiet at both city and highway speeds, and while there was some tire noise, wind noise was minimal.
Fuel economy is quite good, with an EPA-estimated 26/33 mpg City/Highway with front-wheel drive, and 25/32 mpg City/Highway with all-wheel drive. That's compared with 23/31 mpg for the Honda CR-V with FWD and 22/30 with AWD; The Toyota RAV4 achieves 24/31 mpg.
The Rogue is not built for towing, with a maximum capacity of only 1,000 pounds similar to many four-cylinder crossovers. Nor is it intended for off-road duty.
The 2014 Nissan Rogue is a compact SUV with improved, carlike road manners, better cargo utility and prudent fuel economy.
Laura Burstein filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com after her test drive of the Nissan Rogue in Nashville, Tennessee.
Nissan Rogue S FWD ($22,790); SV FWD ($24,490), SV AWD ($25,840); SL FWD ($28,280, SL AWD ($29,630).
Options As Tested
Nissan Rogue SV FWD ($24,490).
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