At just 4.655m long and 1.8m wide, the 2012 Nissan Rogue SL AWD is a small vehicle by SUV standards and should be easy to commandeer for years with nary a scrape.
Of course, you would never be the one to scratch your car when in tight spots. If you were, though, you’d surely enjoy the Around View Monitor safety feature that comes standard with this top Rogue model. Around View uses four miniature cameras, all of which display images at once, composited. When you’re parking or reversing, your monitor shows what the car would look like from above. You can view where every inch is going in real time, as well as click through assorted modes and call greater attention to danger areas — walls, curbs, hedges, people, etc.
Around View takes some getting used to because — forgive us if this sounds obvious — as a driver, you’re not really atop the car, you’re actually in it. (And, no, I couldn’t see myself through the moonroof, also standard only with the Rogue SL AWD.) Seeing simultaneously from four different directions demands abstract thinking but once you acclimate — quite quickly, I might add — it’s addictive and useful. Even for you, though you (think you) don’t need it.
The Rogue SL AWD comes weighed down, and that’s not a reference to the all-wheel drive (although the base model does start at around $11,000 less). Heated leather seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel bump up the exclusivity implied by the privacy glass enveloping the back half of the car. Together, the 6-way power driver’s seat and tilt-steering column are adjustable enough for anyone to drive in comfort.
Anti-theft and immobilizer key systems, power locks, power mirrors and power windows all add to the sense of, well, power you enjoy from being somewhat elevated. (Again, not that the Rogue is really big for an SUV. It’s just 1.684m tall.) A rear spoiler, 18″ alloy wheels on p225/55 R18 tires and fog lights add a stylish touch of sporty swagger to an already good package.
At the risk of sounding obvious again, the Rogue has a roguish look that suggests a bit of fun. And while it’s no 2-seated solution to an impending midlife crisis, considering that it’s a crossover, the Rogue doesn’t disappoint the more curious driver. The all-wheel drive system is intuitive and dependable, but traction control can be switched off for some spirited navigation. The Xtronic continuously variable transmission comes with a new sport mode that tightens your ride considerably. Meanwhile, an 8-speaker BOSE audio system thrums the satellite radio raucously.
The 2.5L DOHC 4-cylinder puts out 170 HP @ 6000rpm and 175 lb-ft of torque @ 4400. In regular city driving there’s ample oomph at lower revs and decent instant acceleration from standing start.
Canadian fuel consumption rates put the Rogue at 9.6 L/100km in the city and 7.7 on the highway. American rates, usually more reliable, claim a less optimistic 10.7 and 9. Overall, I had a good time driving the Rogue and was impressed with the list of standards, but can’t deny I was absolutely fascinated by the Around View Monitor system.
2012 Nissan Rogue SL AWD
MSRP Base: $34,413
As Driven: $36,063
Image by Nissan Canada.