January 31, 2014 4:30 PM | By Justin Couture, MSN Autos editor

2014 Nissan Rogue second drive



2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD (© Photo: Justin Couture)
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  • 2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD (© Photo: Justin Couture)
  • 2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD (© Photo: Justin Couture)
  • 2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD (© Photo: Justin Couture)
  • 2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD (© Photo: Justin Couture)
  • 2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD (© Photo: Justin Couture)
  • 2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD (© Photo: Justin Couture)
  • 2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD (© Photo: Justin Couture)
  • 2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD (© Photo: Justin Couture)
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2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD

Better driving through technology

2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD (© Photo: Justin Couture)

Mont-Tremblant, Que. – Brakes. Conceptually, they’re pretty simple. Step on the big pedal, and the car slows down – four calipers clamping down on discs or shoes pressed against drums that the wheels and tires are bolted to. But in the new Nissan Rogue, the brakes do more than just stop. Like many automakers, Nissan uses brakes to help the Rogue steer better and handle emergency situations with greater predictability through the magic that is stability control. But unlike anyone else, it’s figured out how to use brakes to make the car ride better.
 
In concert with a bevy of sensors that detect up-and-down motions, the Rogue selectively applies its brakes, and subtly tweaks its powertrain to counteract bumps. The result is a ride that’s level and smooth, without resorting to an expensive adaptive suspension setup. This is exactly the sort of clever behind-the-scenes engineering that Nissan believes will set the Rogue apart in the lucrative compact crossover market.

Bigger Rogue has big sales shoes to fill

2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD (© Photo: Justin Couture)

To say that the outgoing Rogue was a success would be a gross understatement. It is by far and away Nissan’s most popular model in Canada, and even though the egg-shaped crossover didn’t age as gracefully as some of its rivals, sales were up by nearly 20 per cent last year. As such, Nissan has a sizable task on its hands: best the old Rogue on all fronts, while showing up the competition on quality, fuel efficiency and refinement.

Such a challenge calls for a fresh start, and so the Rogue marks the first showing of the brand’s new platform which was co-developed with French automaker and corporate partner Renault. While the Rogue remains roughly the same length, it casts a substantially bigger shadow than either its predecessor or its main rivals from Ford, Honda, or Toyota. It stands taller, and is notably wider, but aluminum panels and greater use of high-tensile steels mean weight is up by a mere 49 kg. It’s also a much nicer looking vehicle, with curved creases that across its fenders and into its doors. With LED-studded headlamps, and a broader chromed “V” dominating its grille, it looks considerably more expensive than its meagre $23,498 base price tag suggests. And speaking of lights, to these eyes, the tails are reminiscent of the second-generation Lexus RX. Coincidence?

Seating for seven (in a pinch)

2014 Nissan Rogue SL AWD (© Photo: Justin Couture)

The Rogue’s new bones may afford greater torsional rigidity for a smoother drive, but it also gives the marketing folks something to boast about: third-row seating. Offered exclusively on the mid-grade SV trim, it offers “emergency” seating for two. You won’t find the same trick flip-and-slide seats as the Pathfinder, and the seats are nowhere near as supportive as the NASA-inspired memory foam thrones up front, but I managed to squeeze my 5’10” frame in the third row without too much difficulty. If you regularly plan on using that third row, you should probably consider the Pathfinder instead. One downside: Nissan cannibalized the well for the spare tire to accommodate the bench, so seven-seat Rogues ride on stiff-sidewalled run-flats.

While “+2” seating is certainly worthy shouting from the rooftops – the only other rival to boast this feature is the Mitsubishi Outlander – five-seat Rogues also have clever tricks to lure in busy families. All other models get a revamped version of Nissan’s Divide-N-Hide cargo management system, which uses modular pieces to split the cargo hold vertically and horizontally in 18 different ways. With the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats flat, up to 1,982 L of cargo space is available.

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