Nis­san Rogue

Austin American-Statesman - - STATESMANCARS -

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.

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