Nissan Rogue Review

As other automakers pack their compact SUVs with so much stuff that they flirt with the $30,000 price point, Nissan has done what it did years ago with the original XTerra...boiled the recipe back down to its essentials.

The Nissan Rogue is a no-frills, no-excuses small SUV (actually, small crossover, since it's built on a car platform). 170 horsepower from a 4-cylinder engine connected to a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission...Nissan's the one automaker who's absolutely nailed how these are supposed to work). 16-inch wheels, a decent audio system, manually-adjusted cloth seats, power windows, power doorlocks and remote keyless entry.

The EPA says it gets 22 in the city, 27 on the highway, which is very, very good.

And then there's the price. Base for the Rogue S 2-wheel drive: $20,220. Which put our tester (having only splash guards, floor mats and a cargo mat for options, plus $745 delivery charge) on the sweet side of $21,500.

The Rogue gives a lot of value for a little money, and by keeping it simple, Nissan sends the subliminal message that nothing's likely to break...that this little machine will last a long time. That's a terrific market position in an economy like this.

UPDATE: Recently did a week in the uplevel Rogue SL AWD...which adds 17 inch aluminum wheels, roof rails, body-color outside power mirrors, a six-way adjustable manual driver's seat, rear privacy glass and a polished exhaust tip.

It takes the base price up to $23,010, which is fine as far as it goes. But five clicks in the option boxes (moonroof, floormats, cross bars, a premium package that upgrades the audio to a Bose system and adds Bluetooth and fog lights, and a portable Garmin Nuvi nav system with dashboard mount) ran the price of the one I drove to $27,850.

It's every bit the solid small SUV described above, but at that price, not the solid value. Also, the AWD (as opposed to the 2-wheel drive) knocks the EPA estimates down to 21 city/26 highway.