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Introduced four years ago, the Nissan Rogue has yet to make a true imprint in the crowded compact crossover sport utility class.

That’s no big knock on the Rogue – there are a bunch of small SUVs still waiting to fine a niche. This is a classification that has two superstars that are surrounded by a lot of average players.

The stars – Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 – have been on top for years and that dominance is not about to change in the near future. Other notable players include the Chevy Equinox, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Edge, and GMC Terrain,

The 2012 Rogue is no slacker. Yet like many of its competitors, there’s not enough overall to get real excited about purchasing this five-passenger SUV.

The sticker price for the Rogue’s two trim models is reasonable ($21,800 to $24,280) and the gas mileage is enviable (23-28 mpg), allowing this Nissan to match up well with many compact SUVs.

The Rogue also features a quality interior that provides good leg and head room for front-seat occupants, but the second row can be a bit cramped with three adults. The materials are not the cheap plastic one typically finds in this class. Another plus is the control panel is designed sensibly and easily accessible to the driver. The Rogue interior also features a number of handy storage areas, a sizable center console, and one huge glove box.

What is not so cool regarding the interior is a lack of reclining capability in the second row, a comfort-conscious feature that many SUVs now possess. The Rogue does provide good cargo space and when the second row is folded, it gets quite roomy with 59.7 cubic feet of space.

2012 Nissan Rogue

  • Performance: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 170 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 23-28 mpg
  • Price: $21,800 to $24,280
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance 3 years/36,000

Although the Rogue has a sleek exterior appeal, the annoying thing is its low-lining roof has created poor sight lines and it’s very difficult to see out the back.

Another knock on the Rogue is performance, which is not unusual for small SUVs. Based on the Nissan Sentra, the Rogue has no alternative, you either like its 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, that delivers 170 horsepower, or you don’t. There is no V6 option and the Rogue’s engine is designed for every-day driving and labors on any hill with a steep pitch.

Thanks in part to its lack of performance, the Rogue offers no driving thrills. But it’s a crossover that delivers a car-like feel and the handling can best be described as capable. The Rogue is a bit noisy, especially trying to climb a sizable hill.

If price is a big issue, the Rogue might be the choice when shopping for a compact SUV. But if sticker price isn’t the deciding factor, the higher priced CR-V and RAV-4 are the better selections.

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