I was pleasantly surprised by the 2014 Nissan Rogue SV. It arrived just in time for a nice long weekend in Glenwood Springs so it saw plenty of city, highway and interstate use and it excelled throughout.

The previous generation model never did much for me. It had these odd bubbly proportions that just did not sit well with me and the weird front end treatment sealed the no. The interior wasn’t any better, it looked rental-car grade to put it nicely and it simply was not comfortable.

To be honest, when the 2014 rolled up, I expected more of the same. But after spending a week in the new Rogue, I can confidently say that Nissan has made a full 180 and delivered a real player in the small SUV/crossover market.

For starters, the 2014 Nissan Rogue looks pretty damn good for a small SUV. I wouldn’t say I’m in love with the front end yet, it still looks a bit minvan-ish, but it’s a lot better. Overall, the rogue is perfectly simple with good proportions. The interior was another surprise altogether with nice, soft-to-the-touch materials making up nearly every major surface. Sure, there are some hard plastics pieces here and there, but they are well hidden. This, for me, was almost unbelievable, Nissan was either severely underserving on previous models or they really stepped up their game for 2014. It’s a warm, comfortable setting. Climate controls are intuitive with large buttons and knobs and infotainment functions utilize both regular buttons and the touchscreen, which is also easy to work. Nissan seats are top of the game for this price point thanks to foam that’s nice and cushy, yet firm enough for good support on long drives. I tackled a nice half day road trip without a moment of numbness or pain.

My test car did include the optional third-row. I looked at it, briefly, then folded the seats down for storage. Kids can clamber back there and survive just fine I’m sure, but I wasn’t about to contort myself to get back there only to find out the obvious, it’s cramped. I supposed it’s nice to have that option, but if you often carry more than five people, then you probably want to be looking at the Pathfinder. I’d stick with the storage space.

The 2014 Nissan Rogue’s motivation comes from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder. It’s a Nissan so it’s teamed with a a continuously variable transmission and coming from anyone other than Nissan I would have cringed, but they’re top of the game. The CVT is quite tolerable and thanks to some decent sound deadening in the car the whining doesn’t make you hate it. Of course, if and when you plant the throttle pedal it’s going to be noisy and the acceleration will be slower than expected, but for normal driving, the CVT behaves nicely. Power is serviceable, you can safely merge and leave a light without wanting to punch something, but on some long ascents up I-70 I felt myself wanting to rock back and forth to give the car a bit more umph.

The chassis is tuned for a comfortable ride, it rides similarly to my wife’s Rav4. It is not a tight handler but it parks well, handles city streets nicely and rolls in a nice straight line on the highway. Steering is light in effort and on the slower side in response, perfect for the 99%. Brakes confidently slow things down. On the road, the cabin is well isolated from road and wind noise a nice touch at this price point.

Overall, I am very impressed with the new Nissan Rogue. Nice looks, a great interior, respectable fuel economy from a drivetrain that you won’t hate. The 2014 Nissan Rogue is definitely worth a long look and test drive if you’re shopping the segment.