Monday, November 17, 2008

Nissan Rogue is as good as the Murano


Having read my header, you may be thinking that I’m going to either launch into a rant about environmental responsibility and buying smaller or, perhaps I’m going to allege that the Nissan Rogue offers better value than its big brother. Well, the second part of that isn’t far off. Actually, the new Rogue does offer good value, and part of that can be attributed to the success of the Murano. The Rogue, like many in the burgeoning small crossover segment, borrows much of what is good and marketable in the Murano, and repackages it in a smaller, more economical version.


Interestingly enough, the first time I drove the Rogue, I had the exact same oh jeez moment that I did with the Murano. As an uber-smart and perceptive automotive enthusiast, it only took me a few miles behind the wheel to realize that either the transmission in my tester was just about to let go, or it had a CVT unit. This is where the Murano and Rogue roads diverge. Whereas the Murano offers enough horsepower to nearly mask the CVTs identity, the Rogues 2.5-liter DOHC four banger can’t replicate this feat. Don’t get me wrong, it is better than most CVTs I’ve driven, just not great.


I had the opportunity to drive the Rogue around country roads a lot. As it turned out, my wife had our first baby during my week with the Rogue. So, there were many, many trips between our house and the hospital. For lesser vehicles, this kind of familiarity can breed much contempt. Not so, with the Rogue. It proved to be an agile corner carver. ( For and SUV, of course ).


Taking a look at the Rogue for the first time, you could be fooled into thinking it was a mini-Murano. Exterior lines have been changed only slightly from its big brother. Although, there is an added cuteness that comes with its smaller stature that you won’t find in the Murano. Inside, the cabin is user friendly, but in no way luxurious. Due to its price point, much “luxury” is sacrificed to keep cost down. A perfect example of this is the fact that there is noticeable drone from the CVT that wasn’t evident in the Infiniti EX35, which is the Infiniti version of the Rogue. Clearly, the addition of more sound-deadening material would help to this end.


There is a lot to like about the Rogue. It is a good small crossover offering significant value, in an attractive package. If Nissan was able to add a slightly more elegant interior, with more sound-deadening materials, and a few more horsepower, it would be a 10.