For 2014, Nissan has completely redesigned its popular Rogue, bringing to market the second generation of the family-friendly compact crossover that was originally introduced for 2008.And speaking of family-friendly, with the redesign, Nissan has given the Rogue an optional third row of seating, allowing it to carry seven passengers. The previous model had room for only five.Three front-drive trim levels are available: the base S ($22,790, plus $860 freight); midlevel SV ($24,490); and top-of-the-line SL ($28,280).All three levels are also available with all-wheel drive; the S for $24,140; SV for $25,840; and SL for $29,630.With the redesign, the Rogue now is assembled in Tennessee; the previous generation had been produced in Japan. But strangely, Nissan also still offers the previous-generation Rogue – still made in Japan – for the U.S. market.It’s now called the Rogue Select, and it comes only in the base S trim level. For 2014, Rogue Select prices are $20,150 for the front-drive version, and $21,500 for all-wheel drive. It’s also going to be available for 2015, but prices haven’t been announced yet.The new Rogue generation has been completely redesigned, with lots of new technology, added amenities and overall structural and functional improvements.Rogue fits into the Nissan crossover lineup below the midsize five-passenger Murano, which gets its own redesign for 2015, and the full-size, seven-passenger Pathfinder, which was all new just two years ago.The Pathfinder also is made in Tennessee. And this fall, Nissan is moving production of the Murano from Japan to its plant in Canton, Miss.Under the hood of all Rogues is a 2.5-liter engine four-cylinder engine, rated at 170 horsepower and 175 foot-pounds of torque. As with most other Nissan U.S. offerings, it’s connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).EPA ratings for front-drive Rogues are 26 mpg city/33 highway/28 combined; with all-wheel drive, 25 city/32 highway/28 combined. These ratings are an improvement over the previous generation, as the Rogue Select, the carryover model, has ratings of 23 city/28 highway/25 combined with front drive, and 22/27/24 with all-wheel drive.That reflects some of the changes Nissan made to the new generation to improve fuel economy, including lighter-weight materials and a more-aerodynamic exterior.Our tester was the Rogue SV front-drive version (total sticker $28,125, including freight and options). Ours came with the third-row option, which was part of the SV Family Package ($940), which also added run-flat tires so the spare tire could be eliminated to save space.We tested the Rogue on a variety of city and country roads, and had plenty of power, even when passing on two-lane roads and taking some uphill grades.The CVT shifts smoothly with a minimum of engine run-up that’s often noticeable with such transmissions. It seems more like a conventional transmission with defined shift points. Inside, the Rogue is very quiet, even at highway speeds, which is something of an improvement over the previous generation. The Rogue has electric power steering was tight and responsive, which was welcome on the twisty country roads I use to test vehicles. With its four-wheel antilock disc brakes, the Rogue’s braking was safe and confident.Nissan offers the third row only on the S and SV models; it’s not available on the top model, the SL, because that would put it into competition, pricewise, with the midsize Pathfinder, which comes standard with three rows. The Family Package costs $1,190 on the base S model.The driver’s seat was very comfortable, even for a daylong drive. I also took a turn sitting in the second row, and had plenty of legroom. We put a couple of teens into the third row, and had no major complaints, but I wouldn’t expect adults – or big teens -- to want to ride back there on a regular basis.If the third row is included, the vehicle comes with the new EZ Flex seating system. It allows every seat except the driver's to be folded down easily to increase cargo space. There is up to 70 cubic feet of cargo space with both of the rear seats folded. The front passenger seat can be folded to the rear, allowing long items such as two-by-fours or ladders to be carried when the 40/20/40-split second seat and 50/50-split third row bench seat are folded down.There is 37.9 inches of legroom in the second row, which can be moved fore or aft with a nine inch range of movement. Rear doors have a wider opening for easier entry and exit, and the tailgate lifts up in one piece.One problem we encountered, though, is that with the front seat back far enough to accommodate a full-size driver, there is decreased legroom in the middle, and virtually none in the third row.With two-row models, you can get Nissan’s Divide 'n Hide cargo system, which has 18 different cargo/seating configurations. They include a compartment to hide items out of sight, and a lower deck to handle taller items.New exterior features include halogen headlights, LED daytime running lights, body-color mirrors with integrated turn signals, and a rear spoiler. Optional are self-leveling LED headlights, fog lights, privacy glass, roof rails, heated outside mirrors, and a power liftgate.An optional power-operated panoramic moon roof has a front panel that slides and tilts, but the rear panel is fixed. When the front panel is opened, it slides under the second panel.New technology available on the Rogue includes NissanConnect with Navigation and apps, Nissan’s nifty Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection; Blind Spot Warning; Lane Departure Warning; and Forward Collision Warning.Rogue's new front bucket seats use a "zero gravity" design, which was introduced in the redesigned 2013 Altima. They provide continuous support from the pelvis to the chest, and are designed to help reduce fatigue during long drives.Available Quick Comfort heated front seats immediately begin warming the body parts that are most sensitive to heat, such as the thighs and hips, Nissan said. There is a six-way adjustable driver's seat (power and lumbar support optional), while the passenger seat is four-way adjustable. Storage cubbies and nooks are provided throughout the cabin. There are six front storage areas, five within reach of the driver, two front cupholders and two front bottle holders.Other standard features include electroluminescent gauges; a front center console; power door locks with automatic locking; power windows with one-touch up/down for the driver; a five-inch color display for the driver-information system; air conditioning with micro filter and adjustable second-row vents; AM/FM/CD audio system, with four speakers, USB port, Bluetooth audio streaming, and auxiliary input jack; LED map lights; rearview monitor; and Bluetooth phone connection with Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant.All models have four-wheel independent suspension, electronic stability control with traction control, and Hill Start Assist. The optional all-wheel drive includes Hill Descent Control.Available are dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seats, and a premium Bose audio system with nine speakers.The S models have 17-inch steel wheels and 225/65R17 all-season tires; SV versions get 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels; and SL models have 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with 225/60R18 all-season tires.Other features on our SV model included dual-zone automatic climate control, privacy glass, the Nissan Intelligent Key with pushbutton start, six-way power driver's seat, power driver's seat lumbar support, satellite radio, NissanConnect Apps, two more speakers for the audio system, roof rails and automatic headlights.With the SL, you’ll also get leather seats, a Bose audio system with nine speakers, the NissanConnect system with in-dash navigation and seven-inch color touch-screen display, the power liftgate, the nifty Around View Monitor, fog lights, the Quick Comfort heated front seats and outside mirrors; and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.Standard safety features include front seat-mounted side air bags; roof-mounted side-curtain air bags with rollover sensors front and rear; and the LATCH system for child-safety seats. Child-safe rear door locks are included, along with an anti-theft alarm and tire-pressure monitoring with Nissan’s Easy Fill Tire Alert system.Exterior color choices are Midnight Jade, Saharan Sun, Brilliant Silver, Gun Metallic, Super Black, Cayenne Red, Moonlight White and Graphite Blue. Interior colors are Charcoal and Almond.Besides the Family Package, our tester also came with the SV Premium Package ($1,420), which brought the NissanConnect system with navigation, the Around View Monitor, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Moving Object Detection and the power liftgate.We also had roof rails with cross bars ($290) and floor mats ($125) for the first and second rows.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @gchambers3.