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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
“probably the best all-around performer in the four-cylinder class”
“the CVT feels like it's partially constructed of rubber bands”
CVT is “one of the best we've driven”
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.”
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.