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Landing somewhere between a tall wagon and an SUV, the Rogue aims at those who want the fuel-efficiency and maneuverability of a small car, combined with the space and comfort (and versatility) of a utility vehicle.
The Rogue gets something of a mid-cycle design refresh for 2011, but you'd have to look hard to see the differences. That's fine, as the Rogue's sleek, rakish design still looks fresh. Its proportions appear wider and longer than it actually is from the outside, and few would guess that the Rogue is actually based on the compact Sentra sedan. Up close, cues from the larger Murano give it a hint of upscale. New wheels, added chrome accents, and new front and rear spoilers go a long way toward enforcing that.
While the Rogue has received a few details to spruce things up inside and out, its core attributes remain. The Rogue's 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine provides decently strong acceleration with the CVT—just under nine seconds, according to some tests—and it comes with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. While the CVT allows better fuel economy, its rubber-band-like feel could leave some drivers uneasy. And while the CVT responds quickly to prods of the throttle, hard acceleration is punctuated by a coarse drone from the engine. The Rogue maneuvers well, with a quick, almost nimble feel, but at higher speeds it becomes abundantly clear this vehicle is tuned more for ride than handling.
Inside, the five-passenger Rogue gets a chunky interior design that borrows a bit from all of Nissan's cars and crossovers. Packaging is the priority in the 2011 Nissan Rogue; it has enough space to accommodate four adults, along with their luggage—plus it has a good ride and reasonably quiet interior. Cargo space, even with the back seats up, is ample, and the cargo floor is quite low. Ride quality is good too, which will make most sensibly minded buyers happy, though some surfaces can bring out pitchiness and road noise.
The Nissan Rogue comes with all the requisites for basic family comfort—including air conditioning, cruise control, and a nice-sounding audio system with steering-wheel controls. For 2011, the Rogue is newly offered in S and SV trims, replacing the S and SL trims last year. The SV model more closely aligns it with the trims that have been phased in for Nissan's sportier models, like the Maxima, and its options list has been reconfigured. A nav system, a power moonroof, xenon headlamps, rearview monitor, and XM satellite radio remain on the options list.
The stylish Rogue S Krom Edition returns for 2011. It gets special 18-inch wheels, a center-exit sport-tuned exhaust, a unique grille and bumper with fog lamps, and other styling tweaks.