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YAK Test Driver Goes Rogue

2014 Nissan Rogue

I’m not sure just how the folks at Nissan ever decided to name their compact SUV the Rogue. The word has all sorts of nasty connotations—and for me it always conjures up an image of David Niven when he starred in a mid-1960s television series of the same name.

But, I digress. You needn’t be confused by the Rogue name, as I found it to be far from any of the definitions offered by my computer’s dictionary. But you may be confused a bit if you’re shopping for a Rogue. Nissan’s second-best seller in the U.S., the Rogue was completely redesigned for 2014, but Nissan apparently couldn’t let go of the original Rogue, which was introduced in 2008, and is still selling it alongside the new Rogue, but renaming it Rogue Select. Confused? Thank you, at least it’s not just me.

We’re going to put the Rogue Select on the back shelf for now and concentrate on the new, improved plain ol’ new Rogue. When I set up my appointment at Mike Barney Nissan, sales consultant Cal Tobias asked my model preference, and I decided to go with a base Rogue S with all wheel-drive. Being the cheapskate that I am, I was interested in what one could buy for the least amount of money. And I wasn’t at all disappointed.

All 2014 Rogues are powered by Nissan’s 2.5L four-cylinder engine,which puts out 170 hp and is EPA-rated at 25/32 mpg city/highway, which Nissan claims is best-in-class. And that’s for the all wheel drive model, which is pretty impressive. I thought the powertrain itself also to be pretty impressive. The four-cylinder engine moves the Rogue along right smartly, and some of the CVT’s shifts could barely be detected. The sound coming from the engine/exhaust also seems to (happily) have a bit of attitude to it. Not enough to annoy your neighbors, but enough to put a grin on your face.

The new Rogue is a bit larger than the Rogue Select; larger enough to offer third-row seating for the first time. My test car didn’t have it, but I can report that the 60/40 second row, easy to get into, is on sliders, which can have a couple of advantages: shorter rear seat passengers can move the seat forward to be closer to front seat passengers; and the rear cargo area can be made larger by sliding the second row forward. A third advantage of course would be to create more legroom for third row passengers.

My Rogue S had a starting price of $24,140. A few dealer-installed options, plus freight, brought the bottom line to $25,380. A front wheel drive model starts at $22,790. Naturally you can move up from the base S model. The SV ($24,490) adds 17 inch aluminum alloy wheels, push button start, dual zone automatic a/c, and a six-way power driver’s seat. In addition, the top-of-the-line SL ($28,280) ups the rims to 18-inchers, and adds nav, leather, and something Nissan calls the Around View® monitor—which they describe as a kind of bird’s-eye-view of the car to aid in parallel parking. Add all wheel to any Rogue for $1,350.

Looks-wise I’ll take the Rogue over the Rogue Select any day. I’d also take it over many other compact SUVs, but don’t take that as an enthusiastic endorsement of its styling. While unobjectionable, it’s also not exactly innovative. I think most car designers went to the same school and are afraid to deviate from what sells. Marketingwise that’s a smart move. But if you want to stand out…you know?

If you find yourself at Nissan’s website, building your own Rogue, when you get to the color selections, somebody please point out the difference to me between Midnight Jade and Super Black. If the Midnight Jade is supposed to be a green, I need to have my computer looked at.

But I’m also too cheap for that.

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Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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