2010 Nissan Rogue Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
November 20, 2009

The 2010 Nissan Rogue doesn’t wow in any respect, but provided you don’t expect driving excitement its solid set of features, safety, and decent performance won’t let you down.

Combining firsthand experience with the Nissan Rogue with highlights of what other top review sources have remarked, TheCarConnection.com has assembled this review on the 2010 Rogue, so as to help you make the most informed purchase.

The Rogue is Nissan’s first compact crossover vehicle—essentially the cross between a tall station wagon and an SUV. Shortly after its introduction the four-cylinder Rogue became more relevant to price- and fuel economy-conscious shoppers who were looking to save money without giving up cabin space.

A rakish design, with gently arced roofline and a more aggressive tuck downward in back give the Rogue more of a ‘lifted’ station wagon appearance than is the case for most crossovers. With proportions that make it appear wider and longer than it actually is from the outside, few would guess that the Rogue is actually based on the compact Sentra sedan. Cues from the larger Murano give it a hint of upscale, but with smaller wheels and more benign-looking fender flares, it’s clearly not as premium-looking. The same goes inside, where the five-passenger Rogue gets a chunky interior design that borrows a bit from all of Nissan’s cars and crossovers.

You don’t have any powertrain choices with theh 2010 Nissan Rogue, except for the choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. All versions come with a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The combination isn’t much fun, but it can move the Rogue quickly if you press it. As the Rogue is a bit heavier than most of Nissan’s other four-cylinder vehicles, the transmission isn’t particularly responsive, with the engine becoming boomy under acceleration. Handling is more on the soft side—those expecting a sportier experience will be disappointed—but maneuverability is good for parking or tight city streets. Some Rogue models get paddles that provide you with simulated gears to help improve control on especially hilly or curvy roads. And with ratings of 22 mpg city, 27 highway for the front-wheel-drive version, it’s quite fuel-efficient. Mileage ratings are 1 mpg lower with AWD, and the system is configured for traction in deep snow or mud, not off-road ability.

Review continues below

The 2010 Rogue has enough space to accommodate four adults along with their luggage. The backseat, which folds forward flat, can fit three adults across, but they’ll have problems if they’re broad-shouldered or large; the seatback adjusts for rake, though all of the seats feel thinly padded and not long-distance comfortable. The front passenger seat will also fold flat to fit especially long pieces of cargo. Ride quality is quite good, which will make most sensibly minded buyers happy, though road noise can be an issue on some surfaces.

The safety story is quite good regarding the Rogue. The federal government gave it four stars for frontal impact and five stars for side impact protection, while it's a top performer in insurance industry tests, with the IIHS results including 'good' scores in all categories and the Top Safety Pick designation. Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, and side and side-curtain airbags are all on the standard-features list.

The 2010 Rogue comes with most of the requisite features for comfortable family motoring—like air conditioning, cruise control, and a nice-sounding audio system with steering-wheel controls. The SL model adds a few more features but offers the most desirable options, including a Leather Package and a Premium Package that includes a Bluetooth hands-free phone system and the Intelligent Key entry/ignition system.

8

2010 Nissan Rogue

Styling

The 2010 Nissan Rogue isn't gorgeous, but it's quite attractive for a vehicle in which function comes first.

A rakish design, with gently arced roofline and a more aggressive tuck downward in back give the Rogue more of a ‘lifted’ station wagon appearance than is the case for most crossovers.

With proportions that make it appear wider and longer than it actually is from the outside, few would guess that the Rogue is actually based on the compact Sentra sedan. Cues from the larger Murano give it a hint of upscale, but with smaller wheels and more benign-looking fender flares, the Rogue is clearly the more affordable of the two. Automobile Magazine says the Rogue is the “somewhat dorky younger sibling” of the Murano. Most reviews consulted by TheCarConnection.com think that being a “mini-Murano” works in the Rogue’s favor. Edmunds calls it a “stylish little crossover,” while Car and Driver proclaims it “good-looking.” Cars.com doesn't warm up to the design, though, declaring it a “hackneyed design” and deems its styling “bland.”

Inside, the five-passenger Rogue gets a chunky interior design that borrows a bit from all of Nissan’s cars and crossovers. There's little dissent on the attractiveness of its design. “The interior is one of the Rogue's highpoints,” Cars.com declares. “It's almost up to the level of the Honda CR-V, and that's saying a lot,” notes Cars.com, commenting on the amber interior lighting and easily read gauges. ConsumerGuide says that the “gauges are clear, large, and well laid out,” and thinks that the “faux metal plastic trim” is “stylish rather than tacky.” Kelley Blue Book concurs, calling the interior “simple yet effective, with most of the necessary controls within easy reach of the driver.”

7

2010 Nissan Rogue

Performance

The credentials are here for the 2010 Nissan Rogue, but there's not much to get excited about; also beware that the CVT is the only transmission choice and isn't to everyone's liking.

New technology will please some and annoy others. In the case of the 2009 Nissan Rogue, the efficient CVT is the point of contention for many.

A 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is paired with a CVT automatic in all Rogue models. Edmunds tests the Rogue with the optional all-wheel-drive system and “accelerated to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds, which is on par with other four-cylinder-powered compact crossovers.” Car and Driver timed the Rogue to 60 in just 8.8 seconds.

Cars.com feels that the Rogue’s four-cylinder “outdoes both the [Honda] CR-V and four-cylinder [Toyota] RAV4 in terms of horsepower, and you'll feel it when you stomp on the accelerator.” The Toyota does have a V-6 option, though.

The Rogue gets power to the wheels through a continuously variable transmission, a unique setup that uses a belt and pulleys to create a transmission with no fixed gears and an infinite amount of gear ratios. These CVTs get better fuel economy than a conventional automatic but are designed to run the engine at its most efficient RPM—which often can be its noise peak, too. In the Rogue, comments about the CVT range from very positive to displeased. Automobile Magazine calls the Rogue’s CVT “one of the best we've driven,” and Cars.com points out that shift paddles allow drivers to choose one of six CVT positions that simulate a six-speed automatic. They find this feature “extremely beneficial.” Edmunds notes that the transmission can feel rubbery and unresponsive: “Feeling like it's partially constructed of rubber bands, the CVT can get maddening on the freeway, constantly raising and dropping revs like a yo-yo whenever the driver moves on or off the gas.” Car and Driver seems to be happy with the CVTs response overall, saying that "highway passing is a smooth experience," but MotorWeek says that "the Rogue responds quickly to throttle, but is quite buzzy when worked hard."

With ratings of 22 mpg city, 27 highway for the front-wheel-drive version, it’s quite fuel-efficient. Mileage ratings are 1 mpg lower with AWD, and the system is configured for traction in deep snow or mud, not off-road ability.

The 2010 Nissan Rogue has electric power steering rather than the more traditional hydraulic-assisted steering. Automobile Magazine says it’s “commendably conventional-feeling, with just-right efforts.” Edmunds considers it “vague.”

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2010 Nissan Rogue

Comfort & Quality

There's little to complain about here; the 2010 Nissan Rogue is a functional and comfortable, but not luxurious, way to transport the family.

The 2010 Rogue has enough space to accommodate four adults along with their luggage, along with a good ride and reasonably quiet interior.

Edmunds assesses that the Rogue is “significantly smaller” than the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4. Even though the Rogue is based on the smaller Nissan Sentra, it has a body similar to that of the larger Nissan Murano, according to Car and Driver.

The backseat, which folds forward flat, can fit three adults across, but they’ll have problems if they’re broad-shouldered or large; the seatback adjusts for rake, though all of the seats feel thinly padded and not long-distance comfortable. The front passenger seat will also fold flat to fit especially long pieces of cargo. Cars.com finds “plenty of headroom, hip room and legroom, especially in the rear seat,” but ConsumerGuide reports that legroom is “acceptable,” and headroom for six-footers is “tight.” Car and Driver feels the rear legroom is “decent” and recommends against seating three adults back there, though it praises the “high roofline.”

Cars.com notes that the rear seats don't fold entirely flat, cutting into its utility. Edmunds points out that the rear seat doesn’t recline or slide forward either, as in some other vehicles in this class, but MSN Autos does note that the rear doors open wide for easy access.

Edmunds likes the large center console in the 2010 Rogue, along with the “enormous” glove box that’s “more useful than some convertibles' trunks.” Consumer Reports calls the cargo area “modest,” and Cars.com concurs, dubbing it “unimpressive.”

MSN Autos deems the interior “good-looking,” quiet, and well laid out. Consumer Reports says the “fit and finish is impressive,” while Edmunds adds that it is “well-constructed with excellent materials” and praises its logically placed controls. However ConsumerGuide says the glove box is made of “flimsy plastic.”

Consumer Reports says the engine “gets a bit raspy at high revs.” Car and Driver mentions the "inevitable engine drone" that occurs under acceleration with almost any CVT, but says the Rogue “keeps the noise to a murmur.”

Ride quality is quite good, which will make most sensibly minded buyers happy, though road noise can be an issue on some surfaces. Cars.com reports that the “suspension provided a soft ride, which many 'sporty' SUVs abandon for a firmer one.” However, ConsumerGuide notes that “washboard freeway surfaces can bring about annoying pitching and bobbing.”

8

2010 Nissan Rogue

Safety

The 2010 Nissan Rogue has good—though not perfect—crash test ratings and all the expected features; but visibility is one nit to pick.

The safety story is quite good regarding the Rogue. The federal government gave it four stars for frontal impact and five stars for side impact protection, while it's a top performer in insurance industry tests, with the IIHS results including 'good' scores in all categories and the Top Safety Pick designation.

Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, and side and side-curtain airbags are all on the standard-features list. Edmunds adds that the curtain airbags are full-length and its anti-lock brakes include brake assist, which activates braking to a higher degree in panic stops. MSN Autos likes the brake pedal’s firmness and says the system “assure[s] steady stopping.”

Edmunds observes that the Rogue's styling impairs rearward visibility. There's no rear camera system available.

7

2010 Nissan Rogue

Features

Top tech features are lacking from the options list in the 2010 Nissan Rogue, but plenty of standard equipment is included.

The 2010 Rogue comes with most of the requisite features for comfortable family motoring—like air conditioning, cruise control, and a nice-sounding audio system with steering-wheel controls. The SL model adds a few more features but offers the most desirable options, including a Leather Package and a Premium Package that includes a Bluetooth hands-free phone system and the Intelligent Key entry/ignition system.

Consumer Reports likes the “removable, foldable cargo organizer for the rear storage area,” which comes on the SL version. Cars.com thinks it's “one of the most skilled, simple innovations I've seen in a small SUV,” able to carry “about 10 lightly packed plastic grocery bags.”

Some vehicles in this class do offer more options than the 2010 Nissan Rogue, however. One of them in particular irks the tech writers at CNET: “navigation isn't available.” CNET likes the interface of the Bose audio upgrade, along with the steering wheel controls, but they think that it “produces only average audio quality.”

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