2013 Nissan Rogue Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
May 29, 2013

The 2013 Nissan Rogue may not have excitement in its corner, but its layout, features, and affordability make a lot of sense for smaller families.

The 2013 Nissan Rogue is a budget-wise crossover that nails the basics without paying too much attention to unnecessary features. It's built for small families with money at front of mind, so in the balance, its middling acceleration and lack of features makes for a fair exchange.

The affordable, versatile Rogue also happens to be one of the better-looking crossovers--because it's mostly hatchback. While the details are starting to look a little dated, the rakish sheetmetal still looks fresh enough. It can look longer and wider than it really is, and from some angles you'd never guess the Rogue is spawned from the same platform as the compact Sentra sedan (there are no significant pieces shared inside or out, but the chassis and powertrains are similar). The Rogue's interior layout is perhaps a bit plain, with odds and ends borrowed from the brand's other models. The slightly larger and more luxurious Murano crossover is surely an influence, and Nissan has likewise added a little polish to the Rogue interior with a few more chrome accents.

On closer look, and with some seat time, the Rogue does feel a bit at odds with its mission, considering its front-seat layout that feels a little more low and laid-back than that of other crossovers. And it helps to remember that this is a model that's pitched toward suburban driveways and city streets, not off-road trails. 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). Even when you have the back seats up, cargo space is adequate for a typical grocery run. The Rogue's one failing in family-friendliness isn't in its packaging, but rather in its refinement; its ride can be a bit pitchy compared to other crossovers, with more road noise as well.

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That lack of refinement does extend to the powertrain, where the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) manages to extract quickness from the 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, but with the penalty of a coarse engine drone whenever accelerating even moderately, as well as a rubber-band-like delay when asking for a quick pass. 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. In either case, the big benefit of the CVT is that it returns impressive real-world mileage. And in around-town driving, most will find the Rogue to handle and maneuver well—tuned for comfort, not performance, yet nimble enough.

Overall, the Rogue shapes up as a safe family pick (moms will appreciate the Rogue SL's Around View Monitor), although the one area of concern is a rating of only 'acceptable' in the IIHS roof strength test. In other respects, the Rogue has all that a budget-priced family vehicle typically includes—including air conditioning, cruise control, and a nice-sounding audio system with steering-wheel controls. It remains offered in two trims, S and SV. Last year's Special Edition model continues, again adding steering-wheel audio controls, a USB port, fog lamps, satellite radio, and a 4.3-inch audio display, and for 2013 it adds Bluetooth and a couple of additional sound-system speakers. This year a Premium Edition model replaces the previous Premium Package, and adds Bose audio, a subwoofer, and fog lamps. A nav system, a power moonroof, xenon headlamps, and a rearview monitor are among other options.

This is the last model year for the current Rogue; it will be completely redesigned for the 2014 model year, keeping the same model name but gaining a more flamboyant look and dramatically upgraded interior.

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2013 Nissan Rogue

Styling

The 2013 Nissan Rogue has a pleasing silhouette, though its details aren't all fresh.

While the up-close details of the Rogue are starting to look a little dated this year with the introduction of a new Altima mid-size sedan lineup this year, as well as the recent redesign of some other 'legacy' designs like the Ford Escape, its rakish design still has an appealing silhouette—and one of the more carlike ones in this field.

Up close, the Rogue shows no signs of being rugged and ready for the trail (it's not, and there's no intent to be that); it's all crossover in its lines and language, all soft curves and bright trim, all the way back to its sloping roofline. From some angles its proportions can appear wider and longer than it actually is, and you probably wouldn't know that the Rogue is based on the same platform as the compact Sentra sedan (there are no significant pieces inside or out, really).

Nissan has added a bit of polish in recent years to the Rogue's interior, with more brightwork and chrome accents. While they don't work all that well on the outside (the grille seems toothy), the few accents inside help dress up what's otherwise a pretty plain interior. Otherwise inside, you see hints of the larger, more luxurious Murano crossover but for the most part it's made of odds and ends borrowed from the brand's other models.

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2013 Nissan Rogue

Performance

Maneuverability is a strong point for the Rogue, while the CVT can hamper responsiveness.

There are no good choices for in the 2013 Nissan Rogue for those who want sprightly performance, but with a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), the Rogue manages to provide acceleration that's adequate—think about nine seconds to 60 mph. 

With this combination come two attributes that don't make it a very pleasant combination, however. The first is that under even moderate acceleration the engine drones coarsely; and secondly, there's a rubber-band-like delay when asking for quick passing power. Road noise also isn't all that well masked, so if you live around hills and coarse road surfaces your impression might not be so positive. In either case, the big benefit of the CVT is that it returns impressive real-world mileage.

Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is available, and it's a better choice for snowy climes, though it saps 1-2 mpg year round. The AWD system can send power as needed to the rear wheels, and with some finesse.

The Rogue is built on car underpinnings, and it drives that way, which makes it an agreeable companion around town. It's maneuverable, nimble, and comfortable in town—although hardly tuned for performance.

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2013 Nissan Rogue

Comfort & Quality

The 2013 Rogue has a great layout for families; we only wish it were quieter inside and that the front seats were better.

The 2013 Nissan Rogue is missing some interior refinement, and its front seats might not provide the kind of support that some shoppers want, but outside of those potential issues it's a nicely packaged, versatile, and roomy crossover.

Head and leg room aren't the issue in the Rogue, but the front seats themselves could use some improvement: they feel thin, and could benefit from thicker padding to make longer trips easier. In back, the seatbacks recline for better comfort, and they fold down to boost cargo space. That space, even with the back seats up, is ample, and the cargo floor is quite low. Even when you have the back seats up, cargo space is adequate for a typical grocery run.

At first drive, the Rogue feels a little bit at odds with its crossover mission, as its front-seat layout is a little lower and more laid-back than that of other crossovers; but with some seat time, it makes sense. And it helps to remember that this is a model that's pitched toward suburban driveways and city streets, not off-road trails.

Ride quality in the 2013 Rogue is good, but by no means luxury-car refined. Some surfaces can bring out too much road noise, as well as the pitchy motions that are typical in taller, shorter-wheelbase vehicles.
8

2013 Nissan Rogue

Safety

The Rogue has decent—but not great—safety, though its available Around View Monitor is good for busy moms.

The 2013 Nissan Rogue ranks as a reasonably safe family vehicle, although it falls short of top ratings in a field with plenty of high achievers.

In nearly all crash tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Rogue has earned a top 'good' score; although it earns just 'acceptable' in the roof-crush test—keeping it from the Top Safety Pick accolade.

It's also almost but not quite in the federal government's top echelon. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the Rogue a four-star overall rating, including a top five-star rating for side impact.

One standout safety feature in the Rogue is the Around View Monitor (included in the Special Edition Package and SL), which casts a wide-angle camera view outward, in close proximity behind; it may prove especially useful when backing up with children and pets nearby. Otherwise, with the chunky rear pillar and styled window lines, outward visibility can be a bit challenging.

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2013 Nissan Rogue

Features

Features and options are about as expected for this class, although extras are lumped into affordable packages.

The 2013 Nissan Rogue comes with a strong feature set, and you get quite a lot for the money, even at the base 'S' level.

Power windows, locks and mirrors; an AM/FM/CD player with steering-wheel controls; air conditioning; and cruise control are now all included in the Rogue S. But you still need to check an option box on the base model to get a Bluetooth hands-free interface.

The Special Edition Package brings to base S two more audio speakers, for a total of six, as well as Bluetooth.

Opt for the Rogue SV and you'll get 17-inch wheels, a rearview camera, and a USB port. The SL model (technically 'SV with SL Package') gets Nissan's Around View monitor, a souped-up set of cameras that generates a 180-degree view for safer reversing and parking.

Separately, you can save some money by instead adding the Premium Edition (formerly the Premium Package), with which you get a rearview camera; a USB port; satellite radio; steering-wheel audio controls; and fog lights, plus Bose audio with a subwoofer.

Other major options on the Rogue include a navigation system; satellite radio; a moonroof; and xenon headlights.

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2013 Nissan Rogue

Fuel Economy

The Rogue is quite fuel-efficient, but it's by no means the most frugal vehicle of its type.

A need for better gas mileage is one of the main reasons why shoppers have moved from larger, sometimes truck-based SUVs into smaller ones like the Rogue, and while the Rogue might provide enough of a gain to satisfy those kinds of family shoppers it's not quite frugal enough to be considered one of the green picks.

In its front-wheel-drive form, the Rogue rates at 23/28 mpg; add all-wheel drive, and they drop to 22/26 mpg. In either case, those numbers—especially on the highway—are lower than most other compact crossovers.

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April 8, 2016
For 2013 Nissan Rogue

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Very disappointed in this car. It has stalled out on me twice, once while on the freeway. Of course Nissan says there is nothing wrong with it. Trading it in ASAP
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