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The Nissan Rogue: when you enter the market with a name like that, you're just asking for it. So here goes. Let's take a Rogue SL on the road and check the tech.
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Now when you get your Rogue, make sure you don't go with the stock audio system, 'cause it's frighteningly simple. It would be AM/FM, CD -- no MP3 or WMA files by the way -- and 4 -- count' em right there -- 4 speakers. They haven't done 4 speakers in a car since, well, since I got my first car. So that's not the way to go. Instead we've got a premium package here; it's called the front-wheel-drive premium package. There's a different one for all-wheel drive, but the audio remains the same: Bose-branded, 6-disc internal slot, MP3 and WMA playback -- so you can burn your own and get lots of music on there -- and they have a whole bunch of speakers, of course -- eight around the cabin, including one of those ND subwoofers that are kinda all the rage right now. So you end up with a system that sounds a whole lot better than the stock system, but what frightens me is how iffy this one sounds -- so the stock one must sound like crap! And your aux jack is right there -- not a bad position but kind of in the way. You're gonna want to buy one of those right-hand-angle, 90-degree plugs that'll kinda drop straight down, 'cause this is eventually gonna piss you off. XM satellite radio is your sat choice; three months of activation are included. Now speaking of navigation, it's not there of course; it's here -- isn't that interesting? We have a Nissan-partnered Garmin Nuvi 750 up here. Now why wouldn't you buy your own Nuvi 750 and probably get it for less? Well, because you would not get this very slick integration back here. So first of all, you've got the device actually docked in its cradle right there, but more importantly, that whole cradle removes -- most of it anyway -- and this is the reason you'd go with a Nissan piece, because you have really clean integration, basically for power. And it gets turned on and off with the vehicle, and things of that nature. So it ends up feeling integrated -- and it snaps together pretty well -- even though it's basically a PND! Now we've reviewed this as a separate product like you might buy at one of the big-box stores, and we think it's pretty good -- Bonnie Cha gave it 3 stars out of 5. Our big knock against it is kinda sluggish performance. Now of course, it is a touch-screen device, as you can see -- these things always are -- and even though it's kinda small, it works well, because the positioning is very close to the driver. It's in your line of sight more than if it's down here, which I do like, and while the screen isn't as big as I'd like it to be, the brightness is pretty strong. Now of course, this system doesn't have things like live traffic or connected ability, so you can't look at the latest prices for gasoline in your area, etc., but for 450 bucks, that's a lot less sticker shock than the 2 grand or so you'll pay for one that lives in there. Now as part of a premium package, which is really the only tech option on these cars, you get the audio system that I mentioned. You also get Bluetooth hands-free built in, and your buttons are here on the wheel. And that premium package brings you one of these: the intelligent key, so you get to pretend you're rich even though you're driving about a 21,000-dollar car. You keep your key in your pocket, and get in and just turn the little handle. The transmission's gonna be a CDT, continuously variable automatic transmission, with your gear positions marked off like a traditional automatic. One interesting difference, though: the premium package on this front-wheel-drive Rogue doesn't change the transmission; the premium package on an all-wheel drive Rogue SL gives you paddles here on the wheel. So they assume that the all-wheel-drive folks are more sporty.
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Now, thanks to the Rogue's engine being two and a half fairly generous liters, you don't need to rev it to get everything done; it's got some torque. And the CDT continuously variable transmission is smooth, but it can be slippery or rubbery as these gear boxes or "anti-gear" boxes are prone to do. But none of this spells "Rogue"; there's nothing edgy or challenging about this vehicle. The ride is in fact quite car-like, which isn't surprising since the Rogue is built on the basic underpinnings of the Sentra. But "car" doesn't mean "sports car." Instead the Rogue's ride quality seems to amplify your awareness of its height, almost as if there's a Sentra inside there saying, "Get me off of these stilts!" Things look okay inside, not great; I find all of Nissan's current-era gauges and instruments to be way too Fisher-Price for my tastes, and that continues here. OK, a Rogue SL front-wheel drive is about twenty-two six with destination. Add 1200 for all-wheel drive. Then your premium package brings you most of the tech in the dash, but the price varies: it's 2000 dollars for the front-wheel-drive car, 2300 for all-wheel drive -- because it adds a little more stuff, including those paddle shifters -- 450 a la carte for the Garmin Nuvi nav thingy, 950 for a glass moon roof.
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