The 2011 Nissan Rogue is handsome both outside and in, and with a starting MSRP of $21,460, it represents a good value. True to its name, though, the Rogue is a little rough around the edges. The engine has a tendency to sound like a lawnmower when it's working hard, and the driving experience is uninspiring.
Despite all that, this five-passenger crossover hits mostly high notes. The looks that it stole from its Murano sibling are probably the best things it has going for it.
For the 2011 model year, the Rogue gets a minor face-lift. It looks fresher with a new front grille, and its rear has been touched up with a redesigned liftgate and spoiler. A navigation system, USB input and automatic climate control are also available for 2011.
The Rogue lineup now includes the entry-level S trim, a saucy S Krom edition, the midlevel SV trim and the top-of-the-line SV with SL Package. Trim levels are always alphabet soup. What you need to know is that the S starts at an enticing $21,460, the S Krom is "edgy" with its sport-tuned suspension and exclusive body design, and my test car, the SV, had all-wheel drive.
The 2011 Rogue SV starts at $24,470. My test car was equipped with the Premium Package that includes a moonroof and touch-screen navigation as well as automatic headlights and temperature control. The final price of my test car was $27,105.
We've established that the 2011 Nissan Rogue looks strikingly similar to Nissan's more expensive, powerful Murano, but it also resembles a Lexus RX 350. This means the Rogue really is a nice-looking car. It's got some snap with standard halogen headlights, body-colored side mirrors, bumpers and rear spoiler, as well as a chrome grille, door handles, license plate frame and exhaust. The roof rails also have a silver accent. Not bad for a car that starts just north of $20,000.
During my week with the Rogue, my daughter affectionately called it "the purple car." Coming from her, that's the highest compliment. The precise color of my test car, a Black Amethyst, was lovely. It looked black until the sunshine hit it and it suddenly transformed into a deep, sparkling aubergine.
The step-in height was low enough to allow my 2-year-old to get in and out of the car on her own. The lightweight doors also helped in this endeavor. The rear liftgate was light and easy to handle even with one hand, but as always, I prefer a power liftgate, which isn't available, since it's more convenient for those of us with kids.
The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 170 horsepower. The engine is matched to a continuously variable automatic transmission. My all-wheel-drive test car gets an EPA-estimated 22/26 mpg city/highway and uses regular gas; for better gas mileage, the front-wheel-drive Rogue gets 22/28 mpg. During my test drive, I managed to get the EPA's combined fuel estimate of 24 mpg.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some
The Rogue's cabin looks great, though it belies the crossover's low price a bit more than the stylish exterior. All of the instruments and controls are laid out intuitively and easy to use. Everything is covered in black-colored plastic with silver trim that manages to steer just clear of looking cheap. The only note of discontent in the cabin is the noise: the Rogue's little engine that could comes through loud and clear as do all of the other cars surrounding it on the road.
The Rogue's front and rear seats are comfortable, and the fabric upholstery manages to look nice, though don't even think about putting a shedding dog in this car as the upholstery attracted every piece of hair and lint from miles away. There's plenty of legroom for the driver and front passenger, even with child-safety seats installed in the backseat.
Everything comes at a price, and the spacious seating for passengers comes at the expense of limited cargo space. It's not horrible, but at just under 30 cubic feet, it's less than most of the competition. One thing the Rogue has is a fold-flat front passenger seat. With the front passenger seat folded and the second row folded, you can get creative when hauling longer items.
Like the cargo space, the remainder of the Rogue's storage possibilities (or lack thereof) comes with mixed results. The glove box is cavernous, reaching far back and including a couple of small shelves to keep your goods organized. Aside from that and a center console that is one big bucket, there isn't much interior storage for the small things in life. The door pockets are almost worthless and four cupholders barely fit the drinks I need for myself, let alone for the kids.
The Rogue SV that I tested also came with a number of notable standard features such as power side mirrors, a USB input for an iPod and my favorite, a backup camera, which the Rogue gets extra points for in my book.
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 rating of Good in frontal-offset, side-impact and rear crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In the roof-strength test, it received the second-best score of Average.
As in earlier model years, the 2011 Rogue still has quite a blind spot thanks to the sizable rear head restraints, rear pillars and tapered side windows. The backup camera helped me sort things out somewhat.
There are two sets of lower Latch anchors that I found easy to access and use. Since my children are in either rear-facing infant or forward-facing convertible seats, I was only able to fit two of them in this car. Find out how the 2011 Rogue performed in MotherProof.com's Car Seat Check here.
An electronic stability system, traction control, front-wheel drive and antilock brakes with brake assist are all standard on the 2011 Rogue. It also has six standard airbags, including side curtains for both rows, and active head restraints for the front row.
The Rogue has optional all-wheel drive and bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights.
Get more safety information about the 2011 Nissan Rogue here.