2014 Nissan RoguePosted on November 1st, 2013
New compact crossover adds seating for 7 and cargo flexibility
By Nina Russin
The phrase, ‘go rogue,’ means to cease to follow instructions and act in an unexpected way. At first glance, the Nissan Rogue doesn’t seem very roguish. After all, compact crossovers are one of the fastest growing segments of the automotive market.
Where the Rogue departs from the pack is in its combination of value and function. Nissan launched the first-generation car as a joint venture with Renault. This relationship continues with the all-new 2014 model, built on the common module family architecture.
What this means to the consumer is better value. Pricing for the 2014 models starts at $22,490 excluding the $860 destination charge. Nissan will also continue producing a stripped down version of the 2013 car, priced under $20,000.
Production moves from Japan to Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee assembly plant: part of a strategy to produce 85 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States in North America. In addition to being able to react more quickly to changes in the target market, the move enables Nissan to utilize more US suppliers.
Bigger and bolder, with better gas mileage
The big news for the 2014 model is flexibility. Designers added optional three-row seating to the two upscale trim levels. Third-row seats fold flat into the floor to extend the cargo area. Second-row seats fold flat in a 40/20/40 pattern and also slide forward to improve access to the back. The front passenger seat also folds flat, so items up to eight feet long fit inside the car.
A two-piece cargo area organizer enables owners to separate wet and/or dirty items from dry ones, and keeps large cargo from sliding around in back.
Despite being larger on the inside, the new car yields 18 percent better gas mileage than the outgoing model, thanks to improvements in engine and transmission efficiency.
Three trim levels
Buyers can choose between S, SV and SL grades with front or all-wheel drive. Nissan expects the SV to be the volume leader, priced from $24,230. Power comes from a 170-horsepower four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission.
The SV upgrades steel wheels to 17-inch alloy rims. Other standard convenience features include a rearview monitor, NissanConnect infotainment with a five-inch color center stack display, Bluetooth interface, push button start, satellite radio, dual-zone air conditioning and roof rails.
Test drive in Tennessee
I had the opportunity to test drive the 2014 SV all-wheel drive model at a recent media event in Nashville, Tennessee. Our route included surface streets inside town, two-lane rural roads and a short stretch of highway.
The new car is an inch shorter than the outgoing model, but has a longer wheelbase and wider track. It is also slightly taller, offering more headroom and a bigger cargo bay. Moving the wheels to the corners of the vehicle enhances high-speed stability.
Engineers improved engine efficiency by adding variable valve timing on the exhaust side. Frictional loss on the continuously variable transmission is improved 40 percent. Engineers expanded the unit’s ratio coverage and added gave the transmission performance closer in feel to a traditional step unit.
Using aluminum for the hood and a composite material for the rear door kept the chassis light. Curb weight ranges from 3400-3600 pounds depending on the configuration.
On the road, the Rogue’s four-cylinder engine has plenty of power on the low end for good acceleration off the line. Although I’ve not been a fan of continuously variable transmissions, Nissan has done a good job on the unit in the Rogue. Power delivery is smooth and linear, with none of the rubber band feel some competitive units suffer from.
An electric power steering system offers ample assist on the low end for maneuvering through thick traffic, with a pleasantly heavy feel on the highway. On-center response is on the soft side, but cornering performance is excellent.
A new feature called active trace control automatically applies the brakes to prevent understeer or pushing in the corners: most noticeable on wet road surfaces.
The four-wheel independent suspension consists of a strut setup up front and multi-links in the rear. Active ride control uses engine torque and braking to reduce vehicle vibration many of us experience on highways.
Visibility to the front and sides of the car is good. However the car’s thick D pillars produce some rather large blind spots in the rear corners. The standard rearview camera projects a wide-angle view to the back of the vehicle when the driver shifts into reverse.
Cars equipped with the around-view monitor can see the entire perimeter of the car in a separate image. It’s a feature I highly recommend to parents whose children might leave toys in the driveway.
The Rogue’s quiet interior makes it easy for passengers to converse on the highway. Keyless entry and push-button start on the test car saves the driver from fumbling for the key fob.
I found both the gauge cluster and center stack screen easy to read in bright sunlight. A thin-film-transistor display in the gauge cluster gives drivers access to instant and average fuel economy, maintenance minders, tire pressures and more.
NissanConnect is a new feature that enables owners to use the car’s center stack screen as the head unit for their smart phones. A downloadable app provides access to Facebook, Pandora, iHeartRadio, text messaging and more.
Redundant audio and information display controls on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction.
The Rogue has the same zero gravity seats as the new Altima. Modeled after NASA technology, the seats eliminate pressure points on long drives. Seat heaters are designed to react to the body’s most sensitive areas, the hips and thighs, first.
The increased interior space is most noticeable in the second row that has a surprising amount of legroom. The floor tunnel is short, so I was able to sit comfortably in the second-row center position. Vents behind the center console circulate air through the back of the cabin.
A deep center console bin is large enough to stash a tablet computer inside. The glovebox is good sized, but does not lock. All four doors have large bottle holders: a must for those of us who live in climates with hot summers.
The Nissan Rogue comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, traction control and tire pressure monitoring. Hill start assist and hill descent control are standard on all-wheel drive models.
The Smyrna plant began producing 2014 models on October 15. Expect the new Rogues to roll into area dealerships in the near future.
Like: A value-packed compact crossover with good fuel economy, available seven-passenger seating and new connectivity features.
Dislike: Thick D pillars create large blind spots in the back corners.
Model: Rogue SV AWD
Base price: $25,580
As tested: N/A
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 25/32 mpg city/highway2014, Best Value 2014, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, Nissan, performance, pricing, standard safety
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