2014 Nissan Rogue Review: Introduction
'Tis the season for all-new compact crossovers, what with the Ford Escape, the Subaru Forester, and now the 2014 Nissan Rogue all debuting fresh visages and dramatically altered platforms within the last few years. The Rogue may be the latest small people mover to go under the knife, but it's not a complete transformation: rather, the folks at Nissan have elected to mix the old with the new. This means that while the Rogue might sport a fresh platform and much more attractive sheet metal, under the hood we find the same power plant that motivated last year's model.
This isn't an unfamiliar strategy for automakers looking to inject some excitement into a new product without breaking the bank from a development costs perspective. Does it work for the 2014 Nissan Rogue? Has the vehicle's growth in other important areas eclipsed the decision to stand fast in the engine bay? I parked a Rogue in my driveway for a week's worth of testing to try and answer those very questions.
2014 Nissan Rogue Review: Models and Prices
The 2014 Nissan Rogue starts at a very friendly MSRP of $22,490. For this price, you get the S trim, which provides LED running lights and turn signals, air conditioning, a color infotainment screen, 17-inch steelies, a rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, and an adjustable driver's seat. Step up to the Rogue SV (MSRP $24,230) and the crossover swaps its steel wheels for alloy rims, installs dual automatic climate control, enhances smart phone connectivity, adds a louder stereo system, and introduces automatic headlights, keyless entry and ignition, power adjustments for the driver's seat, and tinted windows. The range-topping Rogue SL (MSRP $28,070) rides on 18-inch rims and adds a top-down camera system, a navigation system, a Bose stereo system, voice commands, heated leather seats, and fog lights.
My test vehicle was a 2014 Nissan Rogue SV that also featured the SV Family package (third row of seating) and the SV Premium package (navigation system, top-down camera, heated mirrors, power liftgate, numerous active safety features). Throw in all wheel drive, and the window sticker on the Rogue that I drove came to $27,940.
Unusually, Nissan is also offering the previous-generation Rogue alongside the new model for $19,990. Dubbed the 'Rogue Select,' it doesn't gain any of the improvements offered by the redesign, but it does present a bargain-oriented crossover option for those looking to save a few thousand bucks.
2014 Nissan Rogue Review: Design
- The 2014 Nissan Rogue has been completely restyled.
- The Rogue is shorter overall than last year's model, but still wider and taller.
The 2014 Nissan Rogue could be best described as a baby Pathfinder, which is strong praise considering the attractive lines sported by the larger crossover. The Nissan Rogue's makeover includes the brand's new familial design language up front and at the rear, and it’s a marked improvement over the blander feel of the previous-generation Rogue. This is a crossover that no longer shrinks from comparisons to the Toyota RAV4 or Hyundai Santa Fe, and it's much more SUV-like than the streamlined Escape. Taller and wider than before, the Rogue benefits from additional road presence, especially when its optional 18-inch rims are filling up its fender wells.
The 2014 Nissan Rogue's passenger compartment is large, which makes sense given that there's more interior space to play with thanks to the all-new platform. There's not a lot to latch on to visually, however, with plastics and 'metal' trim dominating the interior. It's a family ride stuffed with materials that look like they'll wear well, but the Rogue's affordable price is reflected in the lack of creativity to be found throughout its cabin.
2014 Nissan Rogue Review: Comfort and Cargo
- The 2014 Nissan Rogue gains additional leg room for second row passengers.
- An optional third row of seating is now available on S and SV trim levels.
- Total cargo space increases from 59.7 cubic feet to 70 cubic feet.
Despite the availability of heated leather seats, the 2014 Nissan Rogue definitely isn't aimed at premium buyers. This compact crossover has been designed to satisfy families who are looking to stay in-budget and score a useful hauler, a role for which the Rogue is well-suited - with one caveat. While the first two rows of accommodations are properly proportioned (thanks in part to a wheelbase that is now 0.6 inches longer), the decision to squeeze a third set of seats inside the confines of the Rogue was a misguided one. The pair of flip-up accommodations hover just barely off of the crossover's floor pan, are a challenge to access, and couldn’t hold more than a child seat for any extended period of time. There's no reason to spend extra cash on these placeholders.
Cargo-wise, however, the 2014 Nissan Rogue is a winner, particularly since it now boasts 70 cubic feet of total storage space. A friend was able to stuff an enormous baby crib inside the back of the Rogue - with the rear seats stowed, of course - which was something that he hadn’t been able to do with his Ford Focus hatchback, which featured a smaller cargo opening. I also appreciated the Rogue's power tailgate, although the position of the 'close' button will have you ducking quickly out of the way to avoid being brained as the Nissan seals itself after unloading.
2014 Nissan Rogue Review: Features and Controls
- The 2014 Nissan Rogue does not introduce any significant new features.
The 2014 Nissan Rogue continues its dogged refusal to court high-end shoppers by way of its practical, but not exactly extensive list of available features. As usual, the navigation and infotainment system installed in my test vehicle offered the same fluid, easy-to-use experience that is common to most Nissan systems, and all of the required switchgear was in its right place on either the center stack or the steering wheel. It's a little more involved to parse the information screen that sits in front of the driver between the tachometer (a formality in a CVT vehicle) and the speedometer, but I eventually figured it out. There aren't any gimmicks to be found inside the Rogue - no intercom for scolding third row passengers, no vacuum for cleaning out the crumbs and other detritus that inevitably infest any family car - just the basic modern conveniences that will be appreciated by everyone along for the ride.
2014 Nissan Rogue Review: Safety and Ratings
- The 2014 Nissan Rogue gains a number of active safety features.
The contrast between the 2014 Nissan Rogue's suite of advanced safety equipment and the complete lack of such features in the 2013 model is striking. It's now possible to order the Rogue with a lane-departure warning system, a blind spot monitoring system, a forward collision warning system, and a parking camera feature that can detect and warn the driver about moving objects while the vehicle is traveling at slower speeds. This is in addition to standard safety gear such as dual forward airbags, seat-mounted side impact airbags up front, side curtain airbags, and electronic traction control and stability control.
2014 Nissan Rogue Crash-Test Ratings: Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS have crash tested the Nissan Rogue.
2014 Nissan Rogue Review: Engines and Fuel Economy
- The 2014 Nissan Rogue sees updates made to its CVT.
- Last year's engine carries over.
The 2014 Nissan Rogue comes exclusively with a 2.5-liter, 170 horsepower four-cylinder engine. If you thought that his unit (which also generates 175 lb-ft of torque) sounded familiar, you are right: it was also offered with the 2013 edition of the Rogue. There's nothing wrong with carrying over a drivetrain - after all, Subaru did the same thing in the compact class last year - but whereas the redesigned Forester offered an optional upgrade over the base unit, the Rogue's 2.5-liter mill is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.
At the very least, fuel mileage is up for 2014, thanks to the Rogue's revised continuously-variable automatic transmission. This standard gearbox helps the crossover achieve 26-mpg in city driving and 33-mpg on the highway for front-wheel drive models. Numbers are only slightly lower for each category when all-wheel drive is added into the mix.
2014 Nissan Rogue Review: Driving Impressions
The 2014 Nissan Rogue has definitely improved its ride compared to the year before. You can thank a host of high-tech tweaks for the Rogue's newfound confidence at speed: all-wheel drive editions like the one I drove now come with Active Trace Control, which uses the brakes to pivot the crossover through corners, while Active Ride Control is standard across the board to help keep the vehicle level and stable at all times using the throttle and the braking systems. Each of these was transparent in operation, but the overall result is smoother handing without any feeling of artificial detachment such as one would expect with these electronic features. Well, no more than the already somewhat isolated steering feel endemic to compact crossovers, in any case.
More distinguishable is the engine braking feature, which uses the mighty 2.5-liter motor's compression to help slow the Rogue down during certain situations. The reason I could tell that the CVT had gone into braking mode was because the four-cylinder gets fairly raucous at higher RPMs, which is where it also ends up with the gas pedal pegged to the floor. The CVT's 'sport' button did improve acceleration somewhat, but the false stepping through artificial gears was perfunctory: this is not a performance vehicle, nor should it be driven like one. Be prepared for a chorus of angry bees singing to you through the dashboard if you ever need to get anywhere in a hurry.
The 2014 Nissan Rogue may not be quick, but it is comfortable. I never really noticed any excessive shaking or rumbling over rough roads, of which there are many in Montreal, and the crossover was sure-footed at all times thanks to its all-wheel drive system. I used the all-wheel drive 'lock' button more than once to ensure maximum traction when parking deep in a snow bank, but in all honesty, I didn't need it, as automatic operation (which moves torque to the rear wheels as needed) was up to the task of keeping the Rogue safe on slippery pavement.
2014 Nissan Rogue Review: Final Thoughts
The 2014 Nissan Rogue isn't really held back by the decision to stick with an older engine design. The more attractive styling, larger interior, and heaps of available safety features elevate the new Rogue over the previous model despite its relatively average - dare I say 'pokey' - acceleration. The truth is, most crossover buyers are simply looking for a practical, affordable, and comfortable daily driver, and given that the Nissan's fuel efficiency isn't dragged down by its outdated drivetrain, the Rogue is an appealing prospect. If you are looking for a premium feel inside the cabin, and out on the road, then you'd do best to investigate a number of the Nissan's competitors (chiefly the Escape and the Santa Fe), but if you are more concerned with reliability and bang-for-the-buck, then it's hard to argue against the redesigned Rogue.
2014 Nissan Rogue Review: Pros and Cons
2014 Nissan Rogue review: Pros and Cons
- Attractive exterior styling
- Larger interior
- Good fuel efficiency
- Stable, car-like handling
- Available all-wheel drive
- Affordable pricing
- Improved safety options
- Relatively weak engine
- CVT is noisy at full throttle
- Third row of seating is unusable except by the very young
- Lack of high-end options
Nissan Canada supplied the vehicle for this review.
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