A Good Alternative to Honda’s CR-V and Toyota’s RAV4
Anne Proffit, Canadian Auto Press
The 2009 Nissan Rogue SL FWD is pretty much like the 2008 model and there’s nothing to complain about with that. When first introduced last year, I took a Rogue to Las Vegas and back, and enjoyed it.
This year, the beautiful Indigo blue – with gray leather – 2009 Rogue served similar long-distance duty, traveling from Long Beach up to Sonoma and back, plus side trips to the Infineon racetrack each day. Over the road, I had little to beef about with the 2.5L inline four-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
While 170hp at 6,000 rpm and 175 ft-lb of torque at 4,400 rpm isn’t going to make anyone’s neck snap, the Rogue performs all of its duties without much ado. However, it will not hold cruise control on a very steep hill, as I discovered on Southern California’s famed Grapevine.
Suspension travel is long enough to give good comfort, taking into account the 2,690-mm (105.9-inch) wheelbase on a 4,645-mm (182.9-inch) long platform. Height of 1,684 mm (66.3 inches) with the singing roof rails in place and width of 1,800 mm (70.9 inches) complete the package. The Rogue SL with front-wheel drive weighs in at a relatively svelte 1,521 kilos (3,354 pounds); gross weight is 1,962 kilograms (4,327 pounds). The Rogue is rated to accept a 432-kg (953-lb) payload.
Just about the only thing I had to kvetch about during my week with the Rogue SL FWD was the driver’s seat. It has a convex central hump that just did not suit my little butt. Lateral support isn’t the best, either. That is a subjective matter, so please be sure to spend some quality time in the Rogue before you purchase one. I noticed the Rogue’s lack of fit to my body the first time I drove it.
This vehicle had more than 22,048 km on it when picked up and I vetted another 1,770 km. During that period, I managed to achieve better mileage than that stated by government dictates: 10.7/8.7L/100km city/highway US EPA rated (7.2L/100km highway rating by Canadian standards) and 8.7/8.4 achieved, all on regular fuel from the 60-litre tank. Gearing is good at 2,000 rpm at 100 km/h with a 6,250-rpm redline. I also note that the Rogue was rattle free but did exhibit some interior mechanical noises.
Nissan equipped the Rogue SL with Continental P225/60R tires riding on five-spoke 17-inch rims, helping the Rogue to maneuver fairly well except when asked to perform like a sports car. This rubber aids comfort but isn’t great for back-road hauling, as I discovered during my trip. The tires are a bit noisy, too.
The modern bodylines of the Rogue are rakish – you’re driving a squished version of the larger Murano. The small rear window hurts rearward vision and cargo space, which is a minimum of 818 litres (28.9 cubic feet) with the rear, 60/40-split rear seats up (and the cargo cover connected) and a maximum of 1,642 litres (58.0 cubic feet), somewhat light for its class.
It has good amenities inside that include remote start – turn the knob where a key might be and place the “key” in a perfect slot next to the shifter – one-touch driver’s window, excellent Bose audio with XM satellite radio (the free period was up on this Rogue so I used the single 12-volt for my iPod Shuffle).
Starting at $26,998 and accompanied by destination fee of $1,500, the 2009 Rogue SL FWD as driven has a lengthy list of options too long to list (the base Rogue S starts at $24,398, btw). In the US, a Leather package can be had in SL FWD trim, with leather seating all around, heated seats/mirrors at the front – nice when the temps dipped close to 4 degrees Celsius in July! – a leather shift knob and steering wheel, 6-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar, one-touch driver’s window, HomeLink transceiver and auto-dimming rear mirror with compass. To get these options and more in Canada, you need to upgrade to the SL AWD model and then spend $4,600, which also adds an 8-speaker Bose audio system to the package. Instead, SL FWD buyers can opt for the Premium package at $2,300 which adds the paddle-shift actuated CVT gearbox, a power moonroof, fog lights, an audio upgrade with a 6CD-changer, steering wheel mounted audio controls, a trip computer, a fold-flat front passenger seat, a centre console, a collapsible rear cargo organizer, a rear cargo cover and other handy items.
The previously mentioned move up to SL AWD guise can allow for the addition of a Technology Package at $700 and its accompanying proximity sensing Intelligent key system, Bluetooth hands-free phone operation on the left side of the steering wheel (cruise is on the right), and XM satellite radio.
Altogether, the options added up to $36,098, not including dealer installed accessories or the aforementioned $1,500 freight charge. Nissan touts the Rogue as “a whole new way to make driving fun.” The power and handling are acceptable, the all-wheel ABS-equipped brakes do their job and the electric power-assisted steering is a bit numb to the feel. When the driver calls for power, the CVT has to think about it before finally coming to agreement.
I wish the interior had a few more cupholders, particularly in the four doors. I find the black gauges with white numbers and red indicators are fine and easy to read – as is the LED fuel, temperature, odometer and gearing readout that includes the trip computer.
I do like the easy to open and close hatch (no remotes, just open all doors first) and the fact that the engine compartment’s pole is mounted in the hood, out of the way. And I am enamored of the fact that Nissan received a four-star rating for the driver’s safety in a frontal crash, four for the passenger and five stars for a side crash for both front and rear seat occupants. There are head curtains front and rear to aid that safety.
The Nissan Rogue SL FWD is a good alternative to the Honda CR-V and Toyota’s RAV4, albeit with its spare under the rear rather than hanging out the back as with the latter. I just wish it were more refined than it is.