It's been a long time coming, but Nissan finally redesigned its Rogue compact crossover for 2014. The crossover got one heck of a makeover, but there's one area that sets it apart from the rest of this competitive class: the cargo area's numerous storage configurations.
Compact crossovers are a no-brainer for many families since they provide utility and get better fuel economy than their larger siblings, but the cargo areas are often a little, well, compact. The 2014 Rogue has 39.3 cubic feet of storage behind the second row; that's an improvement of 10.4 cubic feet over the 2013 model. It's also larger than 2014 Toyota RAV4 (38.4), 2014 Honda CR-V (37.2) and 2014 Ford Escape (34.3).
For 2014, the two-row Rogue — a 50/50-split third row is optional — has a Divide-N-Hide cargo system that makes it simple to compartmentalize the space with easy-to-use, multilevel grooves built into the cargo-area walls. It comes with flat panels that can easily slide in to the grooves like oven racks and make the most of those available cubic feet. Even better, handles make the panels convenient to grab and pull out with one hand. The storage configuration possibilities seem only limited by the imagination. I arranged five configurations at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show; Nissan claims upward of 25 arrangements.
Lift up one of the panels and find a convenient compartment to house dirty items from the playground, beach or school, keeping the items in the cargo area clean and dry.
No need to limit the under-floor storage to just the yucky stuff; use the area for the items you always keep in the cargo area. Place your first-aid kit, blanket, extra jacket or jumper cables underneath the surface area, while keeping all the cargo space you need for grocery store trips, a stroller or the occasional shopping spree.
Increase the Rogue's vertical cargo space by sacrificing the under-floor storage when needed: Place the floor panels at the lowest level to accommodate all those boxes you're hauling to Goodwill. There's no traditional tonneau cover to get in the way, either; the cargo shelf can be used as one, though. Many crossovers' cargo covers are removable, but then you're stuck with finding a place to store it.
Now things are getting interesting. With under-floor options and two levels of storage, you could easily keep your reusable grocery bags in the under-floor compartment, pack groceries on the cargo floor under the raised shelf and put the bulky toilet paper and paper towel packs on top.
Compartments get extra smart with this configuration. A stroller lives behind the vertical panel, keeping it from rolling around and crushing your other cargo. Meanwhile, your bags are packed for a weekend getaway in the compartment up front and the box of diapers to drop off at the grandparents' house (along with your children) is packed up top.
The options go on and on. The Divide-N-Hide system could be a standout feature for families, and it makes the Rogue a stronger competitor in a crowded segment.