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The 2012 Nissan Rogue provides a little more ground clearance and a lot more cargo versatility than the typical sedan, but it's pitched toward suburban driveways and city streets, not off-road trails. Like most modern crossovers, the Rogue is a good pick for small families, as well as commuters who need a some extra cargo capability in an only vehicle--without sacrificing too much fuel efficiency or maneuverability.The Rogue's sleek, rakish design still looks fresh; among crossover designs, it's has a somewhat lower stance, and its proportions can appear wider and longer than it actually is from the outside. Although it's based on the Sentra sedan, you wouldn't know it as the two vehicles share absolutely no sheetmetal (and no significant pieces inside or out, really). Inside, the five-passenger Rogue gets a chunky interior design that borrows a bit from all of Nissan's cars and crossovers. , you get some cues from the larger Murano, for a hint of upscale, with chrome accents, and new front and rear spoilers, and new wheels added last year enhancing the look.
If you want a choice of powertrains, a higher-performance option, or want one of the more exciting crossovers to drive, the Rogue isn't the right pick. But the Rogue's 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine moves it quickly enough—just under nine seconds to 60 mph. The continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) keeps the engine in its efficient range, but rubber-band-like responsiveness could leave some drivers uneasy, and hard acceleration is punctuated by a coarse drone from the engine. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is available, and a better choice for snowy climes, though it saps 1-2 mpg year round. Around town and on the commute you'll find the Rogue to maneuver and handle well, with a responsive, nimble feel; but push it to higher speeds and it's clear that the tuning priority was comfort, not performance.
Along with great ride comfort and a reasonably quiet interior, the Rogue has a very well-packaged interior, with a driving position that's not too high, not too low, combined back seats spacious enough for two adults (or three kids). Cargo space, even with the back seats up, is ample, and the cargo floor is quite low. Our only criticism is that some surfaces can bring out pitchiness and road noise.
The Rogue has performed quite well in crash tests, although it achieves just 'acceptable' in the IIHS roof strength test. Otherwise, the Nissan Rogue comes with all the requisite features for both safety and basic family comfort—including air conditioning, cruise control, and a nice-sounding audio system with steering-wheel controls. It remains offered in two trims, S and SV, but for 2012 there's a new Special Edition that adds steering-wheel audio controls, a USB port, fog lamps, satellite radio, and a 4.3-inch audio display. A nav system, a power moonroof, xenon headlamps, and a rearview monitor are among other options. In addition, the Rogue is the first non-luxury vehicle in the U.S., according to Nissan, to get an Around View Monitor (SL model), which helps with rearward visibility.
- Maneuvers and handles well in town
- Spacious, flexible interior
- Useful cargo area organizer
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- Flat, uncomfortable seats
- Unexciting to drive
- CVT drone
- Obscured rearward visibility