With the CUV market becoming more crowded every day, automakers are trying to come up with new and exciting models to tempt customers. Some manufacturers are preparing entire model design overhauls, Ford Escape, while others are busy creating entirely new models to compete, Porsche Macan. Rather than rush to try and outshine other automakers in the showroom, Nissan has decided to take a path of refinement and perfection with its latest Rogue.

A visual refresh was provided to the Rogue last year enhancing its well proportioned lines with an updated face, and the design still holds its own in the market today. With steeply raked front glass and a swooping roof-line, the Rogue is given a sporty feel without looking overly aggressive. With the optional SL trim 18-inch wheels on our tester and the unique Frosted Steel paint, the Rogue emanates presence in parking lots filled with boring family haulers.

The interior of the Rogue is a welcoming place. The two-tone color palate is a far cry from the bland and uninviting gray and black caves often found in competitors, while the leather seats were soft to the touch and felt great to sit in. When the weather turns cold the seat heaters are sure to keep things cozy in the cabin, while the automatic climate control keeps interior temps in check. Entertainment duties were handled by a Bose system with seven speakers and a subwoofer, while the 5-inch touchscreen navigation system kept us from getting lost. The moonroof, while nice to have, is rather small when compared to the expansive slabs of glass many competitors are using these days.

Once you get comfortable, and grab the leather wrapped steering wheel and get ready for a pleasant surprise. While many CVTs offer inferior driving dynamics when compared to their traditional torque converter cousins, Nissan makes the best CVT in the business, and their dedication to the technology has paid off. The 2.5-liter four cylinder, with its 170 hp, may sound under-powered for a vehicle this size, but the CVT does a wonderful job of keeping the engine in the torque band making the Rogue move effortlessly with every press of the pedal.

When not blasting through traffic, the CVT /4-cylinder combo managed to bring us close to 30 mpg on long highway cruises. An impressive feat for this type of vehicle. With the cavernous 28.9 cubic feet of cargo space, this is a perfect partner for road trips. If you need even more space, fold the second row seats, and the Rogue has nearly 60 cubic feet of space. The suspension setup of the Rogue does lean more towards comfort than sportiness, but during mildly aggressive driving there is mild, but well controlled body roll. Getting too frisky, however, will produce understeer and some uncomfortable amounts body lean.

While the base Rogue S comes in with an MSRP of $21,840, our Rogue SV starts at $24,280. When you add the SL package ($3,900), along with the $135.00 splash guards and $190.00 mat kit our tester came in with an MSRP of $29,005 after the $810.00 destination charge. While this may seem a bit steep, the SL package adds many of the previously mentioned niceties like the leather seats, Bose audio system and navigation system. The SL package also adds those handsome 18-inch wheels, HID headlamps and a fog light package. While our tester’s 29 grand price seems a bit high the amount of kit you get with is well above and beyond competitors in this price bracket. For comparison a similarly equipped Honda CR-V will push $30,000 without the navigation system or standard backup camera of the Rogue.

With impressive driving dynamics, incredible comfort, an unmatched level of equipment and an extremely competitive price, the 2012 Rogue is a value leader in the hot CUV market. While it may be lagging behind its competitors in certain features, such as the sunroof, it is still a well thought out vehicle and worthy of a look for anyone in the market to buy a small do-all vehicle.

Photos: © Copyright 2012 Ossamah Shabbir

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