- Nicely balanced ride and handling
- High-quality execution
- Useful cargo area organizer
- Strong family resemblance to Murano
- CVT transmission may feel odd to consumers
- Mundane acceleration
- Styling limits rear visibility
- Tight rear-seat room for adults
Nissan’s Rogue is a fuel-efficient compact crossover that really is the right size at the right time.
The Nissan Rogue was all new for 2008 and the company's first compact utility vehicle for the U.S. market; it went on sale at a good time, when many U.S. shoppers were looking for a vehicle with better fuel economy, without sacrificing interior space.
Based on the compact Sentra sedan, the 2009 Nissan Rogue channels its larger sibling, the Murano, for styling cues. The amalgamation produces a five-passenger compact SUV with modern looks and a dynamic driving experience.
The 2009 Nissan Rogue has one engine and transmission combination: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 170 horsepower and a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is used widely in Nissan products to maximize fuel efficiency. The transmission uses pulleys and a belt to simulate gear ratios—and Nissan outfits some Rogues with paddles for shifting that mimics an automatic’s gears. It works well enough, but CVTs drive differently, and some consumers may be unfamiliar with the experience.
Fuel economy is one of the reasons to choose the 2009 Nissan Rogue versus a larger SUV; its ratings of 22 mpg city, 27 mpg highway for the front-wheel-drive version are quite respectable. Although Nissan makes no claims of the Rogue being an off-roader, the optional all-wheel-drive system brings you better traction in deep snow; however, mileage ratings are 1 mpg lower with AWD.
The 2009 Nissan Rogue offers a flexible cargo area with easy-folding second-row seats and a new-for-2009 fold-down front passenger seat for extra-long items. Ride quality is quite good, which will make most sensibly minded buyers happy, but those seeking sportier handling might be a little disappointed.
Safety equipment is a strong selling point for the 2009 Nissan Rogue. Electronic stability control is standard, along with side and side-curtain airbags, plus anti-lock brakes. Even base S versions come quite well equipped with air conditioning, cruise control, and a nice-sounding audio system with steering-wheel controls. For 2009, equipment has been stepped up, especially for the upmarket SL model. A Leather Package option is now available for Rogue FWD SL models; a Bluetooth hands-free phone system and a Nissan Intelligent Key are available as part of the Rogue’s Premium Package.