We have just purchased this car as a second vehicle to be used mainly for long distance traveling and family use. I was in the market for a larger vehicle that would be good on gas, handle well and have lots of room for our family and belongings on occasional trips. This car has exceeded all my expectations. From the moment I test drove this vehicle, I knew it was perfect for us.
This vehicle handles like a sports car and has the room and utility of an SUV. It hugs the corners very well, and has little body lean, even when taking a corner at excessive speed. I was quite amazed that a vehicle in this class could handle so well. I am very happy and applaud Nissan for making a vehicle of this size and height that can handle the twisties almost as well as a new Altima. It really inspires confidence that is rare in a vehicle of this class.
The front seats are very comfortable with my only initial pet-peeve being that there was a lack of arm rests for driver and front passenger. After driving this car for a while, I realized it was just as comfortable to rest my hand on the stick shift, thereby negating my need for the arm rest.
The back seats are also very spacious and comfortable, with plenty room for taller passengers. Padding is good in back and up front, and on long drives I have not had anyone complain of being uncomfortable. Both rear seats can also fold down to improve carrying capacity, or if desired, only one in a 60/40 fashion to still allow for a back occupant, along with cargo of your choosing.
There is not as much room in the hatch as other vehicles in this class, but for our family and I am sure many others it is perfectly sufficient. There are also roof racks, so if more room is needed you could use them to increase your cargo capacity by purchasing a carrier and cross bars. The latter I believe are not included on the Rogue, and need to be purchased separately.
The driver has a good view of the road and rear from side to side, but when having to back up, you really have to look around well so that you don't smack up your new vehicle, or worse yet flatten a pedestrian. The rear window is on an odd slant, and not very large, making reversing a little tricky. Also it has wide rear pillars that obscure the view further, and the tinting on my model is rather dark, making it even harder to see at night. I don't consider this much of a problem, as taking this away from the vehicle would also take away from the unique styling. I believe this SUV is marketed to a younger audience, so that is probably why Nissan figured a lack of rear view to improve style was an acceptable trade off. I agree.
The engine is rather small for a vehicle this size being only 2.5 litres, but after driving I realized it really doesn't need to be any larger or more powerful. When pushed she jumps at the chance to accelerate, and is actually capable of pushing you back into your seat.
The engine is a rev happy power house that is perfectly matched to its CVT transmission. The CVT transmission really works well, and keeps the engine in its optimal RPM range, regardless of what speed you are doing. If you have never drove a car with one of these newer transmissions, it will take a little getting use to. After a while you will understand why it was chosen for this particular vehicle. The engine and transmission are a perfect match.
In my Ford Explorer Sport with the DOHC 4 litre 6 cylinder engine, when I push the gas she drops into a lower gear, and even then she will never rev past 3500 RPM. Acceleration is smooth and gradual, and never sounds like she is over exerting herself.
The 2008 Nissan Rogue on the other hand when pushed hard to pass revs almost to redline and sounds like a formula one race car. Pick up is quick and snappy, and there's hardly any lag from the CVT transmission, that is usually common as it has to get its RPM's up before performing the operation at hand.
She really picks up quick, and you almost can't believe all this power comes from such a small engine. She sounds as though she is working extra hard when pressed, but regardless of the way she sounds, she is quick and snappy, and always ready to be pushed. It is this willingness to perform, along with excellent handling and aggressive styling that sets this vehicle apart from the rest.
Even though I really love this vehicle and find it almost perfect for our family, I must mention one thing that really annoys me to no end. The road/tire noise in the cabin at speeds faster than 50km is excessive. In addition to the regular thumps and thuds, from the numerous imperfections in our roads we experience here in the North, due to freezing and thawing, there is a constant humming sound coming from the wheels. Even my Explorer Sport, although noisier by far with bangs and rattles from bumpy roads and loose parts, has quieter cabin noise when on smooth surfaces.
Other than the road noise, the regular bumps and cracks are absorbed better than average. I don't know if the noise when driving is due to just the tires Nissan selected, or from an actual problem yet to be diagnosed on my vehicle. I will try to change the tires and see if the noise will lessen, as I am almost positive it will help greatly.
I can't speak about reliability and cost of ownership, as I have not driven her long enough, but from what I have experienced, it seems Nissan did a great job on this vehicle, and build quality seems to be very high.
I think this vehicle is perfect for a younger couple with one or two children in need of a good reliable family vehicle, while at the same time maintaining style and performance. It has style, which is very important to younger buyers, along with handling to go with it. If it was aimed at older buyers, I would say the engine would not be a good choice due to its rev happy nature, but for younger buyers that don't mind a little engine noise, especially when accelerating, it is bang on perfect.
Handling, power, utility, economy and style - what more could you ask for?