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Nissan’s Rogue crossover, which first debuted way back in 2006, is finally being replaced with the redesigned-for-2014 model you see here. The Rogue might seem like small potatoes compared to segment-mates like the Honda CR-V. Ford Escape. and Toyota RAV4. which rack up monster sales numbers. But make no mistake, despite being about as visually stimulating as a potato—and we mean that in the nicest way possible—the current Rogue is no small starchy tuber to those within the halls of Nissan’s HQ. The compact crossover racks up a significant portion of the brand’s sales, and it is the second-most popular model in Nissan’s U.S. lineup. This latest iteration has big shoes to fill.
Based on size alone, the all-new Rogue more than fills its predecessor’s footwear. The new one is 1.1 inches wider, and 1.2 inches taller, and it rides on a wheelbase stretched by 0.6 inch, although, curiously, it’s 0.5 inch shorter in overall length. The altered dimensions put a little more space between the Rogue and the smaller, funkier Juke. and place the Rogue a bit closer in size to the Murano. Nissan claims that there’s more room inside than before, with an additional 2.6 inches of legroom for back-seat passengers, plus enough extra left over that there’s room for an optional third row seat. So equipped, the Rogue offers seven-passenger seating, but we’ll reserve judgment on the habitableness of the way back until we experience it for ourselves. Or force our kids to. Beneath the re-dimensioned body sits an all-new Common Module Family platform co-developed with Renault, Nissan’s corporate partner. Even though the architecture’s fresh, the chassis makes use of a suspension setup—front struts and a multilink rear—familiar to anyone who’s crawled under the last Rogue.
In the all-important hunt for better fuel economy, Nissan tweaked the A-pillar and door mirror shapes and employed a bevy of underbody panels and spoilers to lower the Rogue’s drag coefficient. This, combined with Nissan’s latest Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission with reduced friction (mated to what appears to be a carryover 170-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine), results in a bump in fuel economy from the current front-drive model’s 23 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway to an estimated 26/33 mpg. All-wheel drive remains optional, but efficiency data for models so equipped is forthcoming; the outgoing all-wheel-drive Rogue sacrificed 1 mpg in both the city and on the highway compared to the front-driver. For extra eco-conscious buyers, an even more-efficient Rogue is on the horizon; Nissan plans to introduce a hybrid iteration for the 2015 model year.
The 2014 Rogue comes in three trim levels, and is substantively better equipped. Base S models upgrade from 16-inch wheels to 17-inchers, and also gain LED running lights, body-color door mirrors, a color five-inch dashboard display, and sliding and reclining adjustability for the second-row seat. A trio of new driving aids, Active Trace Control, Active Engine Braking, and Active Ride Control, also are part of the standard equipment mix. Active Trace Control works with the Rogue’s stability control to meter engine torque and work the brakes to increase stability in corners, while Active Engine Braking forces the CVT to return more negative engine torque to help slow the Rogue. Active Ride Control has us a little intrigued: It promises to help “smooth out the drive” through a combination of automatic braking and throttle management immediately following a bump in the road to reduce head toss.
The base price jumps up a substantial $2195 over last year’s front-wheel-drive S to $23,350; all-wheel-drive adds $1395 (to all trim levels). An optional $1190 S Family package adds the flat-folding third-row seat, tinted windows, and run-flat tires. Mid-level SV-spec Rogues start at $25,090—a $1495 increase—and get standard 17-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, tinted windows, keyless entry with pushbutton start, a six-way power driver’s seat, auto headlamps, and satellite radio. The same Family package available on the S is optional here, but for $940 since you already have the darkened glass. Just as its name suggests, the $1320 SV Moonroof package adds a power panoramic moonroof, and the SV Premium package brings navigation, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, a power hatch, and Nissan’s clever Around View 360-degree parking camera system for $1420.
Finally, the top-of-the-line, $28,930 Rogue SL nets buyers 18-inch aluminum wheels; leather for the seats, shifter, and steering wheel; a nine-speaker Bose audio system; navigation and a seven-inch touch-screen dashboard display; a power hatch; Around View monitor; fog lights; and heated front seats and side mirrors. Going full zoot requires the $1990 SL Premium package, which brings the power panoramic moonroof, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, forward collision warning, and auto-leveling full-LED headlights.
Looking only at base prices, the 2014 Rogue barely limbos beneath the $23,590 automatic-equipped Mazda CX-5, $23,595 Ford Escape, $23,775 Honda CR-V, $23,820 automatic-equipped Subaru Forester, and the $24,160 Toyota RAV4. So far this year, Nissan has moved about 25 percent more Rogues than it did through the same period in 2012. Full 2012 sales rang in at 113,000 units; with extra roominess, improved fuel economy, and a longer list of standard and available features, the 2014 model stands to build on that momentum when it goes on sale in November.