The name Rogue implies a quick and stealthy vehicle that deviates from the status quo and catches you off guard. Instead of that, Nissan's Rogue is a decidedly run-of-the-mill CUV. No surprises here.
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The Rogue's interior is stark, but not a refined stark like we find in Volkswagens and Audis. Interior materials felt high quality, but looked cheap. The cloth seats were fine for short trips, but proved uncomfortable for long hauls.
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Instead of using its own OEM navigation system, Nissan has chosen to use a Garmin Nuvi 750 with a hardwired cradle for power. Unlike other hardwired Garmin systems that we've seen, this setup doesn't integrate the vehicle's audio system, so you're stuck with the Nuvi's tiny, tinny speaker.
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A premium Bose audio system option replaces the stock four-speaker setup with seven-speakers and the single disc CD player with a six-disc changer with MP3 playback. That's where the digital-audio options stop, as there is no USB or iPod connectivity available.
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The steering wheel is home to the buttons that activate the voice-controlled Bluetooth hands-free system, cruise control, and redundant audio controls for volume, skip, and source.
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The instrument cluster is simple and easy to understand at a glance. The small, LCD trip computer displays miles per gallon, miles to empty, a trip timer, and a pair of trip odometers.
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The sole transmission option for the Rogue is Nissan's Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). At low speed or low load, such as city driving or highway cruising, the transmission is supersmooth and unintrusive. Under hard acceleration, the CVT can be a bit laggy in getting the revs up.
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The QR-series 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is a relative of the power plant found in the Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec-V, but in this incarnation generates 170 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. California buyers will have to make due with 3 fewer ponies and 5 fewer pound-feet of twist because of the more restrictive emissions equipment fitted.
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One hundred and seventy five pound-feet of torque does not beget a stump puller. But for tooling around town and quick freeway merges, it's more than enough to make the Rogue feel capable and alert.
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The Rogue is available with all-wheel drive, but unless you live in an area that gets much snow or rain, we'd suggest you stick with the more efficient front-wheel-drive system.
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While the CVT doesn't make for a fun drive, it does its part to make the Rogue as efficient as possible. EPA estimates 22 city and 27 highway mpg. With a lead foot, we stuck pretty close to the low end of that spectrum.
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No LCD screen on the dash means the Rogue gets no rearview camera option.
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The Rogue offers a decent amount of storage space. The Bose audio subwoofer doesn't take up any trunk space and is actually mounted on top of the spare tire, beneath the floor.
Caption by / Photo by Corinne Schulze/CNET
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