Thursday, December 11, 2008

What I drove: 2009 Nissan Rogue

It was probably the shortest test drive I've ever taken -- including ones when actually shopping for a new car -- but I actually like the Nissan Rogue. Despite it's blatant product placement on "Heroes" and the fact that all Nissan vehicles are barely on my car radar, I think the Rogue is a pretty nice little crossover.

I was given the test drive assignment Monday with a deadline of Wednesday. Two days is a really short turnaround, especially for someone who has been used to having a couple of weeks to call the dealership, set up the appointment, spend a few hours driving the vehicle, then take a week or so to pull my notes and specifications together and write the story. It's not one of my better stories. It's mostly information about the car's power and amenities, with less about the actual drive. But it gets the job done. And on such short notice (throw in a snowstorm to make driving treacherous) I think I did ok.

From my story:
The Rogue offers a refined ride and practical amenities, but it has a little bit of a wild side under the hood. The 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission. While a conventional automatic transmission typically has four or five fixed gear ratios, a CVT has an infinite number of ratios, according to Nissan literature. Put the Rogue in drive and go. You never feel the vehicle shift gears.

A CVT also optimizes your gas mileage, Robinson says. The front-wheel-drive Rogue gets 22 miles per gallon city and 27 mpg highway. The all-wheel-drive version does nearly as well with 21 mpg city/26 mpg highway. But it’s not just about saving gas. With 170 horsepower and 175 foot-pounds of torque, the Rogue really zips.

On the road, the Rogue glides along like a fish in water. It handles nicely on all road conditions from packed snow to dry pavement to bumps and dips. The front-wheel-drive version I drove laughed at the snowy, slushy roads, so I imagine the all-wheel-drive version could take on some of the roughest conditions Colorado could throw at it.

The ride is smooth and quiet. But you can add all the noise you want with the optional Bose audio system with AM/FM/in-dash six-disc CD changer, eight speakers and XM Satellite Radio, with a free three-month subscription.

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