Rogue! She was a high-spirited noble, heir to a vast fortune, yet imprisoned by the bonds of propriety. He was a swashbuckling swashbuckler with an inability to button his shirt properly and a sea-chest filled with a suspiciously large array of hair-care products. Their fiery love would rage across the world, boil the seas, set society alight, and overcook the thanksgiving turkey. Rogue! Coming soon to a theatre near you. A film by Michael Bay. Like The Notebook, except with more pyrotechnics.
Well, no actually. Despite the rakish name, this four-cylinder compact crossover is no Fabio. It’s less I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, and more Oh Yes I Can Really Tell This Is Margarine. It is soft and sensible, and based on its scores in a couple of recent comparison tests, that’s something to be admired. Come, Fabio: button that shirt back up, put on a sweater-vest, and help me do the taxes. And for God’s sake, man, get a haircut.
This week’s tester arrived in the charcoal grey of a pair of sensible slacks. ‘Tis a muted colour, though one brightened up by the chrome accents of the grille and roof rails, and this top-line SL comes with 18-inch wheels for a little extra curb appeal.
The old Rogue was essentially a mini-Murano, but while Nissan’s new halo crossover has gone a bit nuts in the styling department, the current Rogue looks a little more related to the Pathfinder. It’s a rom-com for the whole family, scoring a firm PG rating in style. The only real criticism I have of the exterior is Nissan’s LED headlight accents, which make the front end of the Rogue look a bit like a house that never bothers taking its Christmas lights down.
On the inside, the Rogue provides an extremely high level of comfort, and possibly one of the more likeable dashboard layouts in the market. The seats are so good you could unbolt them and stick ’em in your living room, and the overall ergonomics seem much more thought-out than elsewhere. The addition of a gargantuan panoramic sunroof really opens up the interior in terms of brightness, and there’s padding anywhere your elbow touches. It is soft, beguiling, sensuous, seductive, and – oh damn I’ve gone all Danielle Steele again.
With a more critical eye, all this bright shiny black trim is going to be a pain in the caboose to keep clean and unscratched. The central touchscreen is also not huge, although it should be noted that Nissan makes a lot of their tech features available relatively low down the trim range.
Cargo capacity is really quite good, this despite the overstuffed rear seats not having the clever folding properties of a Honda CR-V. Rear seats slide back and forth, there’s a handy pass-through, and a multi-layer shelf in the back makes the most of the rear space. This latter is great, with different configurations for all kinds of cargo (groceries, bulky hockey bag, stroller and diaper bag, duelling pistols, etc.), and there’s a 12V power outlet back there as well.