2011 Nissan Rogue Review and Prices

Last Updated: Oct 12, 2011

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2011 Nissan Rogue Buying Advice

The 2011 Nissan Rogue is the best SUV for you if you believe a compact crossover that ventures off the beaten path isn’t necessarily going off-road.  

The 2011 Nissan Rogue gets styling updates inside and out, but true to its name, holds onto a maverick streak that sets it apart from the competition. It has just one engine – a four-cylinder – and an unorthodox transmission, makes no pretense of off-road prowess, and emphasizes sporty handling over interior opulence. A restyled front end and a revamped dashboard – including this vehicle’s first navigation system and USB interface – highlight the 2011 Rogue changes.

Should you buy a 2011 Nissan Rogue or wait for the 2012 Nissan Rogue? Buy a 2011 Rogue. It has the updates that will see this crossover through to its model-year 2014 redesign so it’ll look fresher longer than will the 2012 Rogue. The 2012 Rogue isn’t likely to receive additional upgrades worth waiting for and, frankly, by the time it rolls out the redesigned 2012 Ford Escape and 2012 Honda CR-V will be hogging the compact-crossover spotlight.   

2011 Nissan Rogue Changes back to top

Styling: The 2011 Nissan Rogue gets a subtly restyled nose thanks to a new grille and fascia, a freshened side view courtesy of chrome-accented door moldings, and a livelier tail with the addition of a rear spoiler. Overall, though, the 2011 Rogue continues to follow the pain-reliever-capsule school of styling: it’s rounded everywhere. The eye of the beholder will interpret this as an amorphous copout or an ambitious copy of the larger Nissan Murano crossover. Either way, Rogue won’t be confused with sleeker or squarer competitors.

This five-passenger four-door comes by its crossover credentials honestly. It’s based on the same unibody platform that underpins the Nissan Sentra compact car but crosses into SUV territory by virtue of its wagon body, elevated ride height, and available all-wheel drive (AWD).

Rogue is among the longest vehicles in its class. It’s 5-inches longer than the 2011 Honda CR-V and 1-inch longer that the 2011 Toyota RAV4 (which offers three-rows of seats). More significant, Rogue’s wheelbase is the longest in its competitive set. Wheelbase is the distance between the front and rear axles and key to how much space a vehicle allots for the passenger compartment. Against the CR-V and RAV4 benchmarks, Rogue’s wheelbase is longer than the Honda’s by nearly 3 inches and longer than the Toyota’s by about 1. Rogue has as much front-seat space as those two, but its rear-seat leg-room is no better and head room is tighter. And though Rouge’s 57.9 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seatback folded is greater than that of any compact car, it’s among the stingiest in the crossover class.

Critics have knocked Rogue’s cabin décor as Spartan at best, funeral at worst. Nissan responds by dressing up the 2011 Rogue’s dashboard with revised instrumentation and by giving the entry-level model “mood lighting” and new seat fabric. Overall, the cabin remains unadorned, and materials quality is middling. But we’ll take its calm shapes and ergonomic logic over some rivals’ pointless extravagance.

The 2011 Nissan Rogue returns in three levels of trim, though the midline version has a new name. The 2011 Nissan Rogue S repeats as the base model and the 2011 Rogue Krōm edition is back atop the line. In between is the 2011 Rogue SV, which replaces the SL model. Styling-wise, the 2011 Rogue Krōm (pronounced “chrome”) is distinguished from the S and SV by a slightly different grille and a front fascia with fog lights, a unique rear fascia with central exhaust outlets, body-colored mirrors, and bright-finished 18-inch alloy wheels. Those wheels are a size up from the 2010 Krōm’s standard 17-inch alloys and are newly optional for the Rogue SV. The 2011 Rogue S continues with 16-inch steel wheels as standard and the 2011 Rogue SV comes with 17-inch alloys.             

Mechanical: The 2011 Nissan Rogue carries over the powertrain used by this crossover since its 2008 model-year introduction. The sole engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder rated at 170 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. It mates with a continuously variable transmission, or CVT.

Nissan was a pioneer in mainstream application of CVTs and most of its cars and crossovers use one. CVTs perform the same job as a conventional automatic transmission but rather than using a defined number of gear ratios, CVTs have a belt-and-pulley system to furnish power in an uninterrupted flow. The advantage is the capacity to precisely match engine output with the driver’s demand for acceleration. CVTs are also lighter in weight than comparable automatics. The disadvantage is an unorthodox power delivery in which the engine can seem lazy in some light-throttle, low-speed conditions and can rev well ahead of the actual pace of acceleration when the throttle is floored. Rogue exhibits both these traits. It feels generally responsive, and in fact is among the quickest four-cylinder compact crossovers. But it also suffers intrusive engine drone during rapid acceleration.

A well-sorted suspension, sharp steering, and good balance in turns bolsters Rogue’s position among the sportiest-driving crossovers in its competitive set. All 2011 Rogue models are available with front-wheel drive or AWD. Rogue has a generous 8.3 inches of ground clearance but its AWD system isn’t intended for off-roading. It basically shuffles power between the front and rear wheels to maintain traction on slippery pavement, though it does allow the driver to lock in a 50/50 front-rear torque split for added grip at low speeds. Standard traction control improves adhesion on takeoffs, and an antiskid system is included to reduce chances of sideways slides. Antilock four-wheel disc brakes for better control in emergency stops also are standard. Maximum towing capacity is 1,500 pounds.

Features: More substantive than the 2011 Nissan Rogue’s minor styling revisions are its added features and shuffled options packages. The most significant new feature is this crossover’s first navigation system. It’s exclusive to the 2011 Rogue SV model as part of a Premium Package option or as part of a more extensive new option package that takes the name of the discontinued SL trim level. The Premium Package includes the nav system, power moonroof, and automatic climate control. The new SL Package builds on that with leather upholstery, heated front seats and mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, fog lamps, and a seven-speaker Bose audio system.

The navigation system is Nissan’s budget unit, a relatively simple setup lacking features such as voice activation. It employs a relatively small 5-inch dashboard touch-screen but does include XM NavTraffic capability. Introduction of the nav system brings the 2011 Rogue abreast with top rivals, as does introduction of a USB iPod interface. Unfortunately, both features are exclusive to the SV model – navigation as an extra-cost item and the USB as part of a newly standard audio unit that includes a 4.3-inch display screen.

Second in line for number of 2011 upgrades is the Rogue S model. Its standard equipment list is basically brought up to last year’s SL-model spec with the addition of rear heater ducts, manual driver-seat height adjuster, a second 12-volt power outlet, a driver’s seatback pocket, one-touch-up for the driver’s power window, a cargo light, and an illuminated vanity mirror. It also gains the digital-audio-device auxiliary plug that’s standard on the 2011Krōm. All 2011 Rogues gain an instrument-cluster readout that displays outside temperature and fuel-economy data.

Otherwise, the 2011 Rogue returns fairly well-stocked with available comfort and convenience features, including some that compensate a bit for its relative shortage of cargo room. Depending on model, these include a front-passenger seatback that folds forward to create an 8.5-foot cargo channel inside the vehicle. Also available is a clever cargo-bay organizer that pops from the floor at the touch of a button. Beneath the cargo floor of every Rogue is a washable, removable tray, and in the cabin are huge glovebox and center-console bins (though door map pockets are merely envelop-sized). Also available are xenon headlamps, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth hands-free phone linking, and a rearview camera that displays in the inside mirror. Nissan’s Intelligent Key allows you unlock the doors and start the Rogue without removing the key from purse or pocket. The standard audio system includes a CD player and four speakers. The available upgrade is the Bose unit with XM satellite radio (subscription sold separately), six-CD in-dash changer, and seven speakers plus a subwoofer.

All Rogues come with cruise control, tilt steering wheel, air conditioning and power windows and locks. Standard passive safety features include head-protecting curtain side airbags designed to deploy both in side collisions and when sensors detect an impending rollover.

2011 Nissan Rogue Prices back to top

Prices for the 2011 Nissan Rogue increase only slightly over 2010 Rogue prices.

That means a base price of $21,610 for the 2011 Nissan Rogue S model with front-wheel drive and $22,860 for the S model with AWD. (Prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Nissan’s fee for the 2011 Rogue is $800.)

Starting price for the 2011 Rogue SV is $24,020 with front-wheel drive and $25,270 with AWD. Choosing the Premium Package on the SV, which adds the nav system, XM satellite radio and traffic, power moonroof, and automatic headlamps, and air conditioning costs $1,650. The SL package, which includes the above items plus heated front seats, leather upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, a Bose audio system, and other goodies sells for $3,850.

The 2011 Nissan Rogue Krōm is priced from $25,210 with front-wheel drive and from $26,460 with AWD.

2011 Nissan Rogue Fuel Economy back to top

The 2011 Nissan Rogue fuel-economy ratings are unchanged and so it remains among the higher-mileage compact crossovers if not quite the most fuel-efficient. Still, credit the CVT with helping keep the Rogue’s thirst in check while also providing quicker acceleration than most four-cylinder crossovers can muster.

Fuel-economy ratings for all 2011 Nissan Rogue models are 22/28 mpg city/highway with front-wheel drive and 22/26 with AWD.

2011 Nissan Rogue Release Date back to top

The 2011 Nissan Rogue went on sale in September 2010.

What's next for the 2011 Nissan Rogue back to top

Rogue sells in roughly half the volume of the leaders in this class, the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV-4. But it’s been a pleasant success story for Nissan, with a steady climb in sales since its introduction. It’s benefitted the trend in American car-buying away from larger vehicles and toward less-expensive and more fuel-efficient rides. Compact-crossover SUVs in general profited, and some Rogue sales evidently are going to buyers who might otherwise have considered Nissan’s midsize Murano crossover SUV. Indeed, Murano sales are declining.

Rogue now faces its own new competition from across the showroom in the form of the 2011 Nissan Juke. At $19,760 it’s priced about $2,000 below Rogue. Juke is a five-seat crossover that’s smaller, a whole lot wilder looking, and a bit sportier than the Rogue, with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

Styling changes to the 2011 Rogue constitute a mid-cycle freshening and are very likely its final appearance alternations until the model-year 2014 redesign. Aside from possible tweaking to squeeze out a bit more fuel economy, Nissan isn’t likely to fiddle with Rogue’s powertrain for the duration of this design generation. It probably will continue to juggle features, meaning 21st-century essentials like a navigation system and USB interface will likely spread beyond just the SV model.

2011 Nissan Rogue Competition back to top

2011 Honda CR-V: Confining Rogue’s competitive set to crossovers that offer only four-cylinder power, the obvious choice is this five-seater that only recently relinquished the title of America’s overall top-selling SUV. Dating to model-year 2007, the 2011 CR-V design shows its age: it feels slower than its 180-horsepower rating would suggest, and isolation from wind and road noise is subpar. Fine handling, a stylish cabin, and Honda’s golden reputation are its strengths. Fuel economy is 21/28 mpg with front-wheel drive, 21/27 with AWD. CR-V is priced a bit above the Rogue, starting at $22,475 with front-wheel drive and $23,725 with AWD; it tops out at $28,675 for the top EX-L with AWD. The current-generation CR-V will be fully redesigned for model-year 2012.

2011 Hyundai Tucson: An all-new second-generation model debuted for 2010 and it’s turning heads with flamboyant styling, a strong warranty, and some of the best mileage in the class at 23/31 mpg with front-wheel drive and 21/28 with AWD. Steering, ride, and handling aren’t quite to Rogue’s level, but acceleration is good and cabin materials and roominess are top-notch for the class. South Korea’s Hyundai is on a sales roll and Tucson pricing that starts at $19,540 for the base GL won’t slow things down -- though you can also pay $26,990 for a top-line Limited model.

2011 Subaru Forester: Sporty turbocharged uplevel versions approach $30,000, so stick with the models in the low-$20,000 range to enjoy a great compact crossover. Forester was redesigned for model-year 2009 and now challenges for best in class overall based on its combination of room, comfort, and driving ease -- with the added bonus of a highly capable AWD system as standard equipment. Acceleration from the naturally aspirated 170-horsepower four-cylinder is perfectly adequate, and fuel economy is 21/27 mpg with manual or automatic transmission. Forester’s next redesign won’t come before model-year 2014.