For a reason lost on me, my generation of middle-age guys seems to need bulky SUVs and pickups. Give me a Nissan Rogue with a bike carrier on the back, and I’m happy.
The Rogue’s appealing characteristics: The cabin is comfortable and pleasant; the styling is attractive, honest and unpretentious; prices are reasonable; and the car’s mechanical parts are all singing in the same key.
Other compact SUVs can make the same claim, but the Rogue has spirit and grit required for city life. The Rogue is more than the sum of its parts, and it is appreciated best by driving it daily.
The 170-horsepower, 2.4-liter four and continuously variable transmission are less spunky than some others, but this SUV still feels light and responds quickly. Fuel mileage — mid-20s or so on the highway, high teens in tough urban commuting — is just OK compared with the thrifty CR-V, Equinox and RAV4.
With dimensions perfect for city use, the Rogue has enough bulk (and good crash test ratings) to be comparatively safe in a mix-up with other vehicles, yet it slips easily into parking spaces, even in parking garages with narrow lanes.
The interior includes everything a driver needs and not much more. Instruments and controls are not over-styled and over-designed — ease of use seemed to be the designer’s goal — making the Rogue minimal yet functional.
Cabin components are well put-together with quality, but not luxury, materials. Rear passengers might find legroom kind of stingy, and the Rogue’s sloping rear end limits rear visibility and cargo capacity. That’s why it needs a bike rack — your bike probably won’t fit inside.
Nissan has added a new high-end trim level (about $2,000), called Rogue Krom, which uses a different front end that doesn’t look any better than the original.
The Rogue’s various front-drive and all-wheel drive models range from $21,000 to about $26,000. Ample rebates and dealer incentives should be available.