Based on the previous-generation Sentra sedan, the Nissan Rogue offers the sharper handling dynamics of a compact sedan with the versatility and cargo space of a small crossover. The high-quality finish of the dash, doors and seats gives the Rogue an upscale feel you won't find in many others in the segment.
That's not to say the Rogue is faultless. There's neither a manual or conventional automatic transmission available, and instead your only choice is a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that makes the whole powertrain drone tediously while cruising at highway speeds. And unlike its competitors, the Rogue doesn't offer an optional V6. This isn't a deal-breaker, as the Rogue's four-cylinder yields acceptable power, but it affects performance when the Rogue is fully loaded. The Rogue's rear seat neither slides nor reclines, which limits its ability to tote growing family members. Also, the same curvaceous styling that makes the Rogue look so distinctive also limits rearward visibility and maximum cargo capacity.
There are many great choices for a small crossover this year. The redesigned Ford Escape provides perhaps the most formidable alternative, with a fresher look and an equally engaging drive. The Kia Sportage is another sporty choice, while the freshly revised Honda CR-V and ever-popular Toyota RAV4 offer more cargo space. Buyers shopping in this class should spend time with several candidates, as all have specific strengths and quirks. But for a nicely appointed crossover that drives like a quick, small car, the 2013 Nissan Rogue is a solid pick.