The Nissan Rogue is based on an economy car platform and those roots show through in more ways than one. While it is among the better handling compact SUVs, it's not sporty. It drives more like a car than an SUV, but it has more body lean in turns than most cars. The electric-assist steering requires only a light effort, but it feels natural and direct with good road feel. In fact, the Rogue transmits more road feel to the driver through the steering wheel than most compact SUVs.
The ride is generally comfortable, but it can become busy on bumpy pavement and sharp ruts can give passengers a jolt. Perhaps the Rogue's biggest drawback is interior noise. The noises from rough pavement, bumps and potholes, and the engine are somewhat as we'd expect in an economy car. The Rogue seems like it could use more body insulation, though we realize that would add weight.
Like the CR-V, the Rogue offers only a four-cylinder engine; it makes 170 horsepower and is one of the better four-cylinder powerplants available today. It has the low-end punch to provide good pickup from a stop. Midrange power is adequate, but the Rogue needs to get going a bit for passing maneuvers.
The continuously variable transmission works well with the engine, quickly switching to an appropriate ratio for the driving conditions. The only way to tell that it's not a standard automatic is to floor the accelerator and keep it there. The transmission reacts by picking the ratio to put the engine in its optimum rev range and keeping it there.
The Rogue goes fairly easy on gas. With front-wheel drive, it is EPA-rated at 22/27 mpg City/Highway; AWD models are slightly lower at 21/26 mpg.
While the powertrain works well, it's best suited for around-town duty. The available six-cylinder RAV4 from Toyota is considerably faster. The Rogue is not built for towing, with a maximum capacity of only 1,500 pounds (with the dealer-installed towing package).