The Rogue is on its way to celebrate its best-selling year since Nissan introduced it in the fall of 2007. Ironically, the Rogue is more popular than ever despite being about a year away from a redesign. We’ve seen this trend happen to other cars before, however, and the message is clear for the manufacturer: don’t mess up the next generation.
It’s not easy getting some elbow room in the compact crossover category. Virtually every mainstream manufacturer’s got one, so competition is really tough. The Nissan Rogue seems to be a hit due to its just-right size, its comfortable interior and high level of available features at a decent price.
4-cylinder efficiency, in theory
Like the Honda CR-V, only one engine and transmission combo is offered in the 2012 Nissan Rogue. The company’s 2.5L inline-4, mated to a continuously variable automatic, develops 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. It’s enough get-up-and-go for most small crossover buyers, and clears the 0-100 km/h dash in 8.9 seconds.
On the other hand, the Rogue AWD’s city/highway fuel economy ratings of 9.6 and 7.7L/100km are among the worst in its class. The Nissan isn’t a gas hog, mind you, but other compact crossovers have raised the bar in recent years. Our average over the course of the week is a reasonable 10.5L/100km.
The CVT gearbox includes a Sport button on the centre console that, when pressed, quickens its reactivity, and it works well at keeping the engine in its power band; however, it makes the engine moan and groan.
Like many all-wheel-drive systems in the category, this one spins the front wheels under normal driving conditions, and sends engine torque to the rear ones when wheel slippage is detected. You can press a button on the dash to lock the system in AWD mode for a little more confidence behind the wheel on slippery surfaces, but once you reach highway speeds, the system reverts back to its auto mode.
We’ve driven the 2013 Nissan Altima with its revised 2.5L engine and CVT gearbox; it’s more refined and fuel-efficient, and we assume (hope) they will turn up in the next Rogue.
The Rogue looks rather simple inside, with a dash that isn’t scarred by panel gaps and with a minimum of silver-painted trim. With rotary dials for the climate control system and a double-DIN stereo module with touchscreen navigation, you can’t get more straightforward than this.
When you choose the SL AWD version, you also get a 360-degree camera system, a bird’s-eye view of the perimeter around the Rogue. Using front, rear and lateral cameras mounted under the side mirrors, the system is very useful for lining up straight in a parking space; you can also choose a curbside camera view to help your parallel parking abilities.
The leather upholstery, another exclusive feature of the SL trim, gets red-coloured perforations in its surfaces as well as red contrast stitching, a nice sporty touch for a crossover that doesn’t really feel sporty. There is ample room for everyone, front and rear, although the middle portion of the rear seat cushion is too padded to be truly comfortable.
Among the other minor complaints, the front doors lack a handle at the rearward extremity of their armrests, and the steering column doesn’t telescope.
With a cargo volume of 818 litres (rear seats up) or 1,639 litres (rear seats down), there is a lot of space for your belongings. Still, the heavy hitters of the segment, such as the Honda CR-V, the Toyota RAV4 and the new Ford Escape, can carry much more than the Rogue.
While the 2012 Nissan Rogue doesn’t necessarily look or feel old, the new players in the compact crossover category are serving up more equipment and more technology, as well as more muscular and efficient powertrains.
At a base price of $23,778, the Rogue is competitively priced, edging out the automatic Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, yet more expensive than the base versions of the Dodge Journey and the Ford Escape.
However, our loaded Rogue SL AWD rings in at $34,278, and in my books, that’s paying too much for a compact crossover or SUV, no matter how much equipment you get. I think the vast majority of Rogue buyers would be happy with the $28,678 SV AWD.
The Rogue is a spacious and well-equipped crossover; however, it’s got tough competition, and when you compare it to the newest rivals of the segment, it could use a little extra refinement from its engine and transmission combo, and should be more fuel-efficient. The next-generation of the Rogue should address these issues.
Auto journalist & Consumer Ratings
Editor's Review Highlights
2012 Nissan Rogue Specifications
Similar to 2012 Nissan Rogue