The 2010 Nissan Rogue is the little brother of the Nissan Murano crossover, a vehicle that I used to own. The Rogue's distinguishable look has been around since 2008, and it still looks interesting. However, I happened to be a little lukewarm on the looks, which is odd since it looks similar to the Murano, but these looks don't translate well to the smaller version.
My test car, a Rogue SL with all-wheel drive, had a foufr-cylinder engine that gets you where you need to go. What stood out about the Rogue is its continuously variable automatic transmission. There's no subtle jerk with the change of gears; it's a seamless transition from one gear to the next. But the Rogue's CVT didn't sit well with me because it was loud. It felt like I was riding the clutch – there is none – rather than admiring the finesse of a smooth transmission. At certain speeds the transmission couldn't decide where it was most comfortable, and so it follows that I couldn't either. I spent a lot of time in manual-shift mode to circumvent this problem. I wish the CVT's performance wasn't so weird.
The base Rogue starts at $20,460 and the Rogue SL with all-wheel drive trim starts at $23,300. My test car was priced at $27,295.
While I'm not wild about the Rogue's looks, it is a unique-looking vehicle, and I respect that. The grille has a perforated, hole-punched look. It leans much more toward a sporty look than the utilitarian looks of its competition such as the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
Whatever I think of the looks, the Rogue does a nice job with the kids. The doors aren't too heavy or wide, so my kids could open them with ease and get in without incident. Parking-lot door dings and struggles to close the doors once the kids are in the car are a rarity in this five-seater. However, the step-in height will be a little high for preschoolers. The doors are a perfect height to get those infant carriers in place or buckle up your child without chronic head-bonking.
The Rogue's cargo door is easy to reach and operate. This may sound strange, but the liftgate stays low enough when open for shorter people to reach it easily. It's not too heavy, either, so I didn't have to figure out how to leverage my body weight to close it in one pull. For this, I thank you, Nissan.
The Rogue has a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and uses regular gas. A front-wheel-drive Rogue gets an EPA-estimated 22/27 mpg city/highway. The all-wheel-drive Rogue gets 21/26 mpg.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some
Storage is at a premium in the Rogue. Truthfully, it's a problem in many small cars and SUVs. The Rogue has two cupholders in the front row. There's a slot next to the cupholders to house your cell phone or MP3 player of choice, but it's not very deep so the gadget falls out at every turn. The doors have pockets in them, but they're not wide enough to fit a water bottle, so I maxed out those cupholders pretty quickly.
The good news is the glove box is huge, so you can put stuff in there, namely, the owner's manual (this doesn't happen as often as it should). There's also a center console. In the rear seats, the kids had two cupholders, which were at the base of the center console's rear, and seatback pockets.
On the plus side, there's pretty decent space in the cargo area for handling grocery runs and membership warehouse errands with ease. And that posterboard for the science project? It fits without having to bend it. There's also a nifty tray under the cargo area floor that can manage small items like wet shoes or clothes for the trip home.
What I also loved is the ease of use for the stereo and the climate controls. While this is certainly an argument from an old dog that doesn't learn new tricks very well, it doesn't mean that we can't appreciate clearly labeled buttons and knobs on the minimalistic dash.
The seats were comfortable, and its cloth upholstery was unoffensive in its pattern and texture. Leather seats are available. All the buttons and knobs were comfortably within reach from my driving position, which is something I look for in a vehicle this size.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
The Rogue received the top score of Good in front, side and rear crash tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In past years, these scores – when coupled with the Rogue's standard stability control – would have earned it Top Safety Pick status from IIHS. This year, IIHS added a roof-strength test to its Top Safety Pick criteria. In this test, the Rogue scored the second-place Acceptable. A rating of Good is needed for Top Safety Pick status.
The happy news for parents is that the Rogue easily fits child-safety seats. Well, it does as long as there are only two of them. Three just don't fit. The second row's bench seat is flat, and the seatbacks recline so you can find a good fit with a car seat. The lower Latch anchors were easy to work with. I was surprised that I could fit a rear-facing infant-safety seat behind the driver's seat, but do note that the driver's seat was set for my 5-foot-5-inch frame. With the infant seat behind me, I couldn't scoot my seat back any farther, so plan accordingly.
The Rogue has standard front-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control, traction control and six airbags, including side-impact airbags in the front row and side curtains in both rows. All-wheel drive is optional.
Get more safety information about the 2010 Nissan Rogue here.