First Drive: 2014 Nissan Rogue
Since its introduction in the 2008 model year, the Nissan Rogue has become a key player in the highly competitive compact SUV market. Rogue offered much vehicle for the money but was beginning to show its age.
Turns out, Nissan was intelligently working on the all-new 2014 Rogue in the background; we were recently invited to take it for a spin.
The 2014 Rogue elevates the value proposition of the current Rogue higher with bolder styling, increased interior comfort and versatility, and updated technology to enhance the total driving experience.
More Comfort and Versatility
When we first got behind the wheel of the 2014 Rogue, we felt a great sense of familiarity. The new Rogue reminds us of the Altima with its focus on comfort and smart ergonomics.
It all begins with the magical “zero-gravity” seats first featured in the Altima, designed to reduce fatigue and optimally position the spine. Nissan researched heated seats and learned that first warming the thighs and hips helps occupants feel warmer more quickly and efficiently than attempting to heat the entire seat at once.
Materials look and feel high quality, with consistently smooth grains and supple padding where it counts, in door armrests and center console lid.
Design-wise, the interior is a blend of modern shapes and lines. The dashboard sweeps up and around the front occupants, communicating spaciousness, with an available panoramic glass roof adding to this sensation.
Piano-black trim accentuates the radio and HVAC controls, flowing downward to meet with and surround the shifter. HVAC buttons and knobs are well-labeled with large fonts and symbols.
Our feedback, however, is that radio and navigation buttons should be updated in order to achieve a consistent, across the board use of readily identifiable universal visual icons, at the same time increasing the size of existing icons, making them more effective. Icons already exist in the marketplace for all of these commands or functions, so they should be put to good use, helping to keep eyes on the road while decreasing reaction time.
One of our favorite interior bits is Rogue’s air vents. Protruding from the dash and wrapped in a metallic finish, they are typically treated as a design-immune, unimportant functional component in the interior, but here they add a new level of dimensionality and character,
Smart storage spaces abound, with good-sized door pockets with bottle holders, a rubberized tray ahead of the shifter for a smartphone [12V & USB connections directly above], 2-tier storage armrest, large glovebox, and more.
The cargo area is a critical, yet often overlooked aspect of a vehicle. The 2014 Rogue features a clever Divide-N-Hide cargo system, similar to that seen in Versa Note, but with increased versatility. Nissan explains that there are 18 potential arrangements between the cargo and passenger areas on models with two rows of seating, while those who opt for a third row can make wise use of Nissan’s EZ Flex seating system. With rear seats folded, Nissan proudly enables the availability of 70 cubic feet of space.
Tech Beyond the Touch-Screen
Yes, 2014 Rogue is extremely comfortable and versatile, but impressing us even more was its use of technology, making the 2014 Rogue better in every conceivable way.
Rogue vehicles all come with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a next-gen continuously variable transmission (CVT) which is about 40% more efficient than the previous-gen CVT, resulting in improved fuel economy.
Fuel economy is up; front-wheel drive CVT-equipped models are rated 26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined.
Rogue AWD models are rated 25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined.
These numbers can be attributed to not only improved frictional efficiency, but aerodynamics, as well. The coefficient of drag was reduced by optimizing the A-pillar section and outside mirror shapes, also helping to reduce wind noise and providing a quieter interior. The turbulence behind the body was reduced through the optimization of integrated rear roof spoiler, rear side spoiler and tail lights.
Underbody aerodynamics are enhanced by an innovative muffler spoiler, rear bumper closing panel, fuel tank deflector, rear suspension cover, engine under cover and front tire deflectors.
While aerodynamics is impressive, the Nissan brand is also about performance, which rings loudly, clearly, and true in the 2014 Rogue. Slicing through Tennessee’s undulating hills and country roads, our Rogue held stable, instilling utmost confidence throughout our varying drive routes.
Standard driving systems called Active Trace Control, Active Engine Braking and Active Ride Control help the Rogue as it takes on curves, downward slopes and bumpy roads.
Active Trace Control utilizes Rogue’s Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) system to help improve cornering feel by automatically applying the brakes or smoothing engine torque characteristics during acceleration.
Active Engine Braking uses the CVT to slow the Rogue as the driver brakes, resulting in less brake effort by the driver, and Active Ride Control helps smooth out the drive by automatically applying the brakes and adjusting engine torque after the vehicle hits a bump, reducing the typical “head bobble” pitch.
Safer Driving Tech
We’ve heard Nissan’s slogan “Innovation That Excites”, and most exciting to us are the applications of the latest technology to make the driving experience safer.
Behind the available 7″ touch-screen is the latest iteration of NissanConnect, a powerful system with a bright future in the coming months. NissanConnect uses hands-free voice commands, your smartphone, and the vehicle’s display to help drivers get the information, destination, music and more with as few distractions as possible.
We were impressed with the voice recognition system developed by Nuance Communications, a company that has been in the business of voice recognition far longer than Google or Apple.
Apps like Google Online Search, text-messaging assistant, Facebook, Pandora and iHeartRadio are currently available on NissanConnect, with more to follow shortly.
Bluetooth and a back-up camera are standard. Optional is our favorite Around-View Monitor (AVM) with Moving Object Detection (MOD) system. AVM uses four cameras mounted on the front, side and rear of the vehicle to provide a “bird’s eye” virtual 360° view of objects around the Rogue.
The system also provides additional selectable split-screen close-ups of front, rear and curb views, making parallel parking a fun breeze, instead of scary torture.
Other technologies include Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Nissan’s Easy Fill Tire Alert system.
Offered in three trim levels, S, SV and SL in either front or all-wheel drive, the Rogue starts at $23,350 and tops out at just over $32K for a fully optioned SL model.
With bold styling and available features such as LED headlights, panoramic roof, and power liftgate, the 2014 Rogue could easily be mistaken for an Infiniti, considering the extent of luxury equipment offered.
Even after being redesigned and upgraded in every way possible, Rogue remains a great value.
Nissan is building their new Rogue in Smyrna, Tennessee, perhaps clinching the deal for those of us who value “Made in the USA.”