- Nicely balanced ride and handling
- High-quality execution
- Useful cargo area organizer
- Strong family resemblance to Murano
- CVT transmission may feel odd to consumers
- Mundane acceleration
- Styling limits rear visibility
- Tight rear-seat room for adults
Nissan’s Rogue is a fuel-efficient compact crossover that really is the right size at the right time.
The Nissan Rogue was all new for 2008 and the company's first compact utility vehicle for the U.S. market; it went on sale at a good time, when many U.S. shoppers were looking for a vehicle with better fuel economy, without sacrificing interior space.
Based on the compact Sentra sedan, the 2009 Nissan Rogue channels its larger sibling, the Murano, for styling cues. The amalgamation produces a five-passenger compact SUV with modern looks and a dynamic driving experience.
The 2009 Nissan Rogue has one engine and transmission combination: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 170 horsepower and a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which is used widely in Nissan products to maximize fuel efficiency. The transmission uses pulleys and a belt to simulate gear ratios—and Nissan outfits some Rogues with paddles for shifting that mimics an automatic’s gears. It works well enough, but CVTs drive differently, and some consumers may be unfamiliar with the experience.
Fuel economy is one of the reasons to choose the 2009 Nissan Rogue versus a larger SUV; its ratings of 22 mpg city, 27 mpg highway for the front-wheel-drive version are quite respectable. Although Nissan makes no claims of the Rogue being an off-roader, the optional all-wheel-drive system brings you better traction in deep snow; however, mileage ratings are 1 mpg lower with AWD.
The 2009 Nissan Rogue offers a flexible cargo area with easy-folding second-row seats and a new-for-2009 fold-down front passenger seat for extra-long items. Ride quality is quite good, which will make most sensibly minded buyers happy, but those seeking sportier handling might be a little disappointed.
Safety equipment is a strong selling point for the 2009 Nissan Rogue. Electronic stability control is standard, along with side and side-curtain airbags, plus anti-lock brakes. Even base S versions come quite well equipped with air conditioning, cruise control, and a nice-sounding audio system with steering-wheel controls. For 2009, equipment has been stepped up, especially for the upmarket SL model. A Leather Package option is now available for Rogue FWD SL models; a Bluetooth hands-free phone system and a Nissan Intelligent Key are available as part of the Rogue’s Premium Package.
2009 Nissan Rogue
The 2009 Nissan Rogue is an inexpensive vehicle that doesn’t necessarily look the part.
Nissan has a strong design language, and nobody will mistake the 2009 Rogue for anything but a Nissan. In fact, many think it looks very similar to its older relative, the Murano. Some reviewers consider its shape unimaginative. Automobile says the Rogue is the “somewhat dorky younger sibling” of the Murano, while Cars.com declares it a “hackneyed design” and deems its styling “bland.” Most reviews consulted by TheCarConnection.com think that being a “mini-Murano” works in the Rogue’s favor. Edmunds calls it a “stylish little crossover,” while Car and Driver proclaims it “good-looking.”
Inside the 2009 Nissan Rogue, there's little dissent on the attractiveness of its design.
ConsumerGuide says that the “gauges are clear, large, and well laid out,” and complements the compact crossover for “faux metal plastic trim” that’s “stylish rather than tacky.” “The interior is one of the Rogue's highpoints,” Cars.com declares. “It's almost up to the level of the Honda CR-V, and that's saying a lot,” notes Cars.com, commenting on the amber interior lighting and easily read gauges. Kelley Blue Book concurs, calling the interior “simple yet effective, with most of the necessary controls within easy reach of the driver.”
TheCarConnection.com has driven the Rogue several times now and is pleased with its style; it is among the best-looking, best-proportioned vehicles in its class, though the upright grille and odd air intake are a little fussy. The cabin is filled with classy textured plastics that elevate it above its price class; its gauges are clear and its controls logically arranged.
2009 Nissan Rogue
The 2009 Nissan Rogue’s unconventional transmission takes a little getting used to, but it has credentials strong enough for most.
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.
All Rogues come outfitted with a single engine/transmission combination. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine puts out 170 horsepower. 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.” Consumer Reports says the engine “gets a bit raspy at high revs.” 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. However, Automobile 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.” Car and Driver says the Rogue “keeps the noise to a murmur.” The transmission can feel rubbery and lack quick responses, which Edmunds notes in the Rogue: “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.”
Fuel economy is a big positive for the 2009 Nissan Rogue; it’s rated at 21/26 mpg (city/highway) with all-wheel drive; front-wheel-drive models get 22/27 mpg (city/highway).
The 2009 Nissan Rogue features electric power steering rather than the more traditional hydraulic-assisted steering. Edmunds considers it “vague,” but appreciates the Rogue’s “all-independent long-travel suspension that smoothly gobbles up road imperfections.” Automobile says it’s “commendably conventional-feeling, with just-right efforts.” Cars.com feels the “suspension provided a soft ride, which many 'sporty' SUVs abandon for a firmer one,” while Kelley Blue Book remarks, “the suspension kept body roll well under control.” However, ConsumerGuide notes that “washboard freeway surfaces can bring about annoying pitching and bobbing.”
TheCarConnection.com’s experience in the 2009 Nissan Rogue shows the engine to be willing enough, but the combination of the CVT and the paddle shifters lack the sporty nature that they imply. The Rogue's steering is noticeably sharper and more accurate than the Nissan Sentra on which it is based, but it's still not as progressive as hydraulic units. The right-sized Rogue does handle better than most small crossovers.
2009 Nissan Rogue
Comfort & Quality
The 2009 Nissan Rogue is a bit smaller than some of its competitors, but a versatile design and comfortable ride make it very appealing.
After looking at a myriad of reviews of the 2009 Nissan Rogue, TheCarConnection.com concludes that most testers give the Rogue high marks for comfort and quality.
The 2009 Nissan Rogue is based on the Nissan Sentra. Nissan stretches the Sentra more than three inches and raises its roof more than five inches, resulting in a Rogue body similar to that of the larger Nissan Murano, according to Car and Driver. The result is a crossover sized like the Saturn Vue, but “significantly smaller” than the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4, Edmunds says.
“Roomy” is a relative term, as can be seen from conflicting opinions about the interior space of the Nissan Rogue. Cars.com finds “plenty of headroom, hip room and legroom, especially in the rear seat,” but ConsumerGuide reports that legroom is “acceptable,” and headroom for six-footers is “tight.” Car and Driver feels the rear legroom is “decent” and recommends against seating three adults back there, though it praises the “high roofline.” Edmunds points out that the rear seat doesn’t recline or slide forward, and both Edmunds and Consumer Reports note the styling limits backward visibility. But MSN Autos thinks the rear doors open wide for easy access.
Edmunds likes its large center console and “enormous” glove box that’s “more useful than some convertibles' trunks,” but ConsumerGuide says the glove box is made of “flimsy plastic.” Consumer Reports calls the cargo area “modest,” and Cars.com concurs, dubbing it “unimpressive” and faulting rear seats that don't fold entirely flat, cutting into its utility.
MSN Autos deems the interior “good-looking,” quiet, and well laid out. Consumer Reports says the “fit and finish is impressive,” while Edmunds adds that it is “well-constructed with excellent materials” and praises its logically placed controls.
In TheCarConnection.com’s experience with the Rogue, the ride height and seating position are perfect for darting in and out of highway traffic, as well as avoiding motion sickness. Our feeling is that the Rogue’s cabin is a little narrow at the knees for large passengers. Five-passenger seating realistically means four-adult seating, but even in the second row, those adults will find enough leg- and headroom to ride for a few hours pleasantly. Ride comfort is excellent, with good damping and an easy, comfortable feel no matter the road surface; road and wind noise are well damped, too.
2009 Nissan Rogue
The 2009 Nissan Rogue is safe and secure, with good occupant protection and all the most-recommended safety features.
The 2009 Nissan Rogue earns very good marks with regard to crash-test protection.
NHTSA—the agency that administers the federal government’s crash tests—gives the Rogue five stars in protecting drivers from harm in front crashes, and four stars for protecting passengers in head-on crashes. The Rogue earns five stars for its side-impact protection and a four-star rating for rollover resistance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an insurance industry-funded research group, gives the Rogue its Top Safety Pick award, for “good” crash-test ratings in the front, side, and rear tests.
MSN Autos likes the brake pedal’s firmness and says the system “assure[s] steady stopping.” Consumer Reports notes that the Rogue has a long list of standard safety equipment, including stability control, active head restraints, and side curtain airbags. Edmunds adds that the curtain airbags are full-length and its anti-lock brakes include brake assist, which activates braking to a higher degree in panic stops.
2009 Nissan Rogue
The Rogue lacks some tech features like a navigation system, but it delivers impressive cargo-storage solutions.
As a new model in 2008, few changes have been made for 2009. They include new auto speed-sensing door locks, while SL models get a fold-down front passenger seat, driver seatback pocket, dual-level center console tray, mood lighting, a drive computer, outside temperature display, two luggage-side cargo hooks, and dual-visor vanity mirror illumination. The Leather Package option is now available for Rogue FWD SL models, as well as a Bluetooth hands-free phone system and Nissan Intelligent Key for the Rogue FWD Premium Package.
The 2009 Nissan Rogue comes with plenty of standard equipment in both S and SL versions. All Rogues have standard air conditioning, cruise control, power windows/locks/mirrors, and a CD player with an audio jack, Edmunds reports. The SL adds 17-inch wheels, roof rails, and a driver-side height-adjustable seat.
The major options include paddle shifters for the CVT, a trip computer, and a Bose audio system with an in-dash, six-disc CD player. Satellite radio is also an option.
Consumer Reports likes the “removable, foldable cargo organizer for the rear storage area,” which comes on the SL version. Cars.com thinks it's “one of the most skilled, simple innovations I've seen in a small SUV,” able to carry “about 10 lightly packed plastic grocery bags.”
Some expected options are not available on either model, and that irks the tech writers at CNET: “navigation isn't available.” They also feel the optional Bose audio system “produces only average audio quality.” But they approve of the audio system’s controls; the interface is “easy to use,” and they “liked the audio controls on the steering wheel.”