2014 Nissan Rogue Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
August 8, 2014

The 2014 Nissan Rogue gets mainstreamed in all the right ways, though engine noise and the teensy third-row seat are minor letdowns.

The Nissan Rogue is a carlike crossover with two identities. There's the Rogue Select, a carried-over crossover from last year that's still around as Nissan hunts for sales volume. Then there's the much improved 2014 Rogue, a more spacious and more pleasant car to drive that rides on a completely new architecture.

You'll want to skip by the outdated version for a few reasons. The new Rogue is more handsome, more flexible, more comfortable, and handles better--and it delivers class-leading gas mileage, though its crash-test scores haven't improved over the former model.

Nissan Rogue styling

The Rogue embraces a new styling theme, one that dresses up its familiar proportions with more interesting surfaces. Remember the last Rogue's crazy grille treatments? They're gone, replaced by a more contemporary look that doesn't venture off the crossover-SUV homestead. The grille's more tidy, the headlamps are more interesting, and the side sculpting gives it a more meaty stance. Inside, the new Rogue has a more handsomely finished interior, better organized, and finished with higher-quality materials.

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Nissan Rogue performance and gas mileage

The Rogue returns with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder and continuously variable transmission found in the first-generation crossover. Power output's still fixed at 170 horsepower, and acceleration is mediocre at best. It's not the CVT's fault entirely, but the transmission does put the Rogue in a noisy stretch of its powerband pretty often. A few pounds of extra firewall damping would be well-received.

Where the Rogue excels is in gas mileage and in road manners. The EPA-rated 33 mpg highway looks great on paper, but the 28 mpg combined of either the front-drive or all-wheel-drive Rogue is even better in real life.

The Rogue's all-independent suspension and electric power steering gets some assistance in controlling the Rogue's ride. A new function, Active Ride Control, directs the CVT and engine responses to smooth the Rogue's body motions after it crosses a bump, Nissan says. Active Trace Control can also apply a brake or adjust torque to an inside wheel to aid cornering. The new Rogue steers with more heft, damps its ride better, and has a more substantial and composed feel than the Rogue Select in every way we can think of. Seventeen-inch wheels with all-season tires are standard; 18-inchers are an option on the top Rogue.

Nissan Rogue comfort and seating

With just marginal growth in wheelbase (up just 0.6 inches), the Rogue hasn't gained considerable interior room, which keeps it positioned at the smaller end of the compact-crossover class. It's 1.2 inches taller, though, and doors open more widely.

As with the Altima, Nissan delivers better seating comfort with especially dense seat foam, and finds a bit more room for back-seat passengers, thanks to a sliding and reclining second-row seat. The front seats also borrow a page from the Leaf playbook, with heating controls that warm up in more sensitive contact areas. A power driver seat is available, but like the Ford Escape, there's no power offered for the front passenger seat--though it does fold down for more carrying capacity.

Maybe the most unusual decision is to offer a third-row seat in the Rogue, though there's not a big increase in passenger space. Since the second row can be adjusted on a 9-inch-long track, the third-row seat has usable leg room--but only if you're in the awkward stage between booster seat and driving yourself. And even then, it's a temporary, short-distance solution at best.

Nissan Rogue safety and features

All Rogues come with standard curtain airbags and stability control, as well as a rearview camera and tire pressure monitors. Nissan's Easy Fill tire alert is also included. And while the federal government hasn't yet crash-tested the new Rogue, it's earned Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) status from the insurance-funded IIHS. Safety options include a surround-view camera, blind-spot monitors, a lane-departure warning system, and a forward-collision alert system.

The base Rogue S is priced from $22,490, not including destination charges, and comes with power windows, locks, and mirrors; an AM/FM/CD player with a USB port; Bluetooth with audio streaming; and a rearview camera. The all-wheel-drive version of this model is priced from $23,840.

The $24,230 Rogue SV ($25,580 with AWD) adds 17-inch wheels; a power driver seat; satellite radio; automatic climate control; pushbutton start; and NissanConnect, which enables use of smartphone apps like Pandora.

For $28,070 ($29,420 with AWD), the Rogue SL gets Bose audio; navigation; a power tailgate; surround-view cameras; 18-inch wheels; heated front seats; and leather upholstery.

Options include third-row seating; run-flat tires; a panoramic sunroof; those advanced-safety features; and LED headlights.

8

2014 Nissan Rogue

Styling

The Rogue's been mainstreamed, in the right ways, with a more crisp outline and a much more refined cabin.

The Rogue embraces a new styling theme, one that dresses up its familiar proportions with more interesting surfaces and frankly, a more mass-market appeal.

Nissan's done a positively Honda-like job in the past few years, evolving styling in gradual steps to remove the odder flourishes of the past. Remember the last Rogue's crazy grille treatments? They're broomed. There's a more straightforward grille bracketed by angled chrome bars and braced by LED running lamps. The side and fender sculpting's borrowed some lessons from the wild Juke--and clearly has seen the latest Santa Fe and CX-5, from the look of the chamfered taillamps. All the details push the Rogue's corners in more evocative directions than the plainer first-generation crossover.

Inside, Nissan has delivered a more handsomely finished interior, one with higher-quality materials. It's not damning it with faint praise, to call it elegantly ordinary. It's laid out for quick perception, with round knobs for climate control and audio framing a center stack with an LCD monitor, and a cowl over the gauges balanced out by a slight dip over a pair of slim vents. It's not wildly conceived with all-touch interfaces or asymmetrical lines or a shower of single-function buttons--and we're kind of in love with it for that reason.

7

2014 Nissan Rogue

Performance

There's no avoiding the moany four-cylinder and CVT combo; the Rogue's handling is firmer, better than before.

Unexciting, loud acceleration from its carryover four-cylinder is the least appealing facet of the 2014 Nissan Rogue. Handling? It's gotten much more confident.

The Rogue returns with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder and continuously variable transmission (CVT) found in the first-generation crossover. Power output's still fixed at 170 horsepower, though Nissan says 175 pound-feet of torque put the Rogue at the top of the compact-crossover niche.

Dip deeply into the gas, and the Rogue's CVT modulates the gaps between its pulleys to simulate an automatic with an infinite set of gears. It's quicker and smoother to do that, but the Rogue doesn't have fixed ratio points--"gears"--or shift paddles to reach them, like our current CVT favorite from the Subaru Forester. The result is mediocre, 8-second acceleration to 60 mph, and a noisy pause at the productive end of the Rogue's powerband. It's actually more refined in some ways than the prior Rogue, but compared to turbocharged four-cylinders and automatics in the Santa Fe, Escape, and others, it's less satisfying.

Where the Rogue makes up serious ground is in gas mileage and handling. The EPA rates both front-drive and all-wheel-drive Rogues at 28 mpg combined, with the front-drive model earning a 33-mpg highway rating.

Just as impressive is the Rogue's transformed road feel, more secure and substantial than it had been. Electric power steering isn't the curse here that it is in some compact cars: it doesn't wander and hunt on grooved concrete, and takes to changes with smooth responses. The suspension's independent all around, and ride quality is very controlled--bordering on firm.

It's augmented electronically with new stability-control logic. In one application, it damps the accelerator to smooth out the ride over bumps (instead of surging over them). In another, it clamps the inside front brake in corners to draw the Rogue through them more nimbly. The effects can't really be sensed without comparing the same Rogue, disabled, though.

Seventeen-inch wheels with all-season tires are standard; 18-inchers are an option on the top Rogue SL.

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2014 Nissan Rogue

Comfort & Quality

Some of the best front seats occupy the Rogue's cabin; the second row's good, too, but the optional third row is barely kid-friendly.

With just marginal growth in wheelbase (up just 0.6 inches), the 2014 Nissan Rogue hasn't gained a lot of interior room versus the former model, which is now sold as the Rogue Select. That means it's still positioned at the smaller end of the compact-crossover class, but the perception of space and refinement has grown considerably. The Rogue's grown up--it's 1.2 inches taller and the doors open more widely--and it feels more grown-up, too.

As it did with the Altima, Nissan has outfitted the Rogue with very comfortable front seats and a good driving position, with just a touch of the Italianate steering-wheel tilt. Super-dense foam and great sculpting make the Rogue's chairs a place we could sit for a 12-hour road trip, no sweat. The manually adjustable seats add power for the driver on the Rogue SV and SL, but no passenger power seat is available. Instead, the front passenger seat folds down to extend interior cargo storage--you can toss an eight-foot ladder in through the tailgate and it should fit, provided you're driving solo.

The front seats also borrow a page from the Leaf playbook, with optional heating controls that warm up first in more sensitive contact areas.

Adults get ample accommodations in the second row, which slides on a 9-inch track to expand its leg room, reclines for long-distance comfort, and moves up and away behind the front seats for maximum cargo stowage. It's the third row they'll want to avoid: it's barely adequate for small children, and thankfully is an option unavailable on the top Rogue SL.

Both the second and third rows split and fold for flexible cargo space. It's 70 cubic feet in all behind the front seats with other rows folded down; 32 cubic feet behind the second row; and a skimpy 9.4 cubic feet behind the third row.

The third-row seat's such an occasional piece, we'd skip it in favor of the Divide-N-Hide cargo setup that's standard on five-seat models. With reconfigurable panels, you can create stowage boxes and bins in the back to suit whatever task you have, from carrying home ice packs and beverages, to hiding muddy boots until you can hose them off after a hike.

That active-lifestyle dreaming smacks into a more practical, soothing reality inside the Rogue. The cabin's trimmed out in more substantial, better-looking materials than the still-available Rogue Select, the former model carried over for a few more years. The contrast between new and old is stark: one's more plasticky and vaguely futuristic, one's tightly composed from low-gloss plastics and metallic trim.

The low point? Excessive engine noise that's amplified by the way its CVT holds revs in the more vocal part of its powerband.

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2014 Nissan Rogue

Safety

No crash scores are in, but a rearview camera and Bluetooth are standard.

The safety  news is mixed for the redesigned 2014 Rogue, which managed the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) designation, meaning that it earned top 'good' scores in all of five required categories; it's also been given a 'basic' rating for its front crash protection (with the optional Forward Collision Warning system).

The Rogue Select only manages an 'acceptable' score in the rollover-protection-related roof strength category, and an even more worrisome 'marginal' performance in the new small overlap frontal test, which simulates a frontal, off-center collision in which the vehicle hits a tree or utility pole—a particularly deadly and injurious type of crash.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), though, gives the new Rogue a four-star overall rating, with a low three-star rating for front-impact protection. offset somewhat by a five-star rating in side impacts.

All 2014 Rogues come with standard curtain airbags and stability control, as well as tire pressure monitors. Nissan's Easy Fill tire alert is also included. Visibility is fairly good, though the Rogue's uptick at its rear pillars blocks some rearward vision, though much less than the pillars in the carried-over Rogue Select.

Options include blind-spot monitors, a lane-departure warning system, and a forward-collision alert system.

One feature we'd buy, no question, is the surround-view camera that's available on the Rogue SV and standard on the SL. It stitches together a composite 360-degree view of obstacles from a quartet of cameras--and it makes parking everywhere and anywhere so much simpler. It's packaged with other useful options in the SV like smartphone connectivity, so it's worth the upsell.


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2014 Nissan Rogue

Features

The Rogue is well-equipped and simply packaged; its surround-view cameras are a must-have.

With the new Rogue, Nissan applies lessons it's learned on other models lines, particularly the Altima. That is, mainstream the look and standardize some inexpensive tech features, and outflank the South Korean crossovers on value.

The base Rogue S starts from a very reasonable $22,490, not including destination charges, and comes with all the features most drivers need to plug and play it into their garages. It gets power windows, locks, and mirrors; an AM/FM/CD player with a USB port; Bluetooth with audio streaming; and a rearview camera. Add all-wheel drive, and the price rises to $23,840 before destination.

On five-seat models, the Rogue comes with the Divide-N-Hide cargo storage system. The third-row seat is offered only on the Rogue S and Rogue SV.

The $24,230 Rogue SV ($25,580 with AWD) gains 17-inch wheels; satellite radio; a power driver seat; automatic climate control; pushbutton start; and NissanConnect, which enables use of smartphone apps like Pandora. This connectivity kit is one of the easier systems you'll find in the class, with more limited functionality but plainer operation than the befuddled Ford setup, for example.

For $28,070 ($29,420 with AWD), the Rogue SL gets Bose audio; navigation; a power tailgate; surround-view cameras, one of our must-have features now that's it's spread outside the Nissan/Infiniti empire; 18-inch wheels; heated front seats; and leather upholstery.

Options on the 2014 Rogue include third-row seating on base and SV models; run-flat tires; a panoramic sunroof; those advanced-safety features; and LED headlights.

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2014 Nissan Rogue

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage is better than ever--the Rogue leads in EPA highway numbers.

The Nissan Rogue's gas mileage goes up significantly this year, nudging it from the ranks of the mediocre to the top tier of compact to mid-size crossover SUVs.

Last year, the front-wheel-drive Rogue was rated at 23/28 mpg; with all-wheel drive, its numbers fell to 22/26 mpg. That vehicle's still available as the Rogue Select, FYI, in case you're interested in a very low lease payment above fuel economy and crash-test scores.

This year, an optimized CVT and more efficient tires give the Rogue excellent ratings, on either the city or the highway cycles. The EPA certifies the front-drive Rogue at 26 miles per gallon city, 33 miles per gallon highway, or 28 mpg combined. With all-wheel drive, the combined number stays the same.

There's no plan for diesel power for the Rogue, as far as we know, and Nissan's hybrid four-cylinder in the new Pathfinder doesn't seem likely, given the Rogue's already impressive fuel economy.

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June 14, 2015
2014 Nissan Rogue FWD 4-Door SL

What a car!!!

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I was very skeptal about going from a 6 cyl to a 4 cyl. however, the smooth transition of the CVT transmission doesn't give you the feeling the engine is going to blow up until the transmission shifts when... + More »
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February 25, 2015
For 2014 Nissan Rogue

Wonderful vehicle.

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The only problem I have encountered is the floor hearing system. There is virtually no heat coming from the floor vents. I find that during really cold days my knees freeze and I need to put a blanket over... + More »
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