The Nissan Rogue crossover has never lived in that world. There is nothing to qualify it as the rapscallion of its class, and it has been easily dismissed against more modern and sophisticated competition.
The next generation of the Rogue, shown on 10 September in Frankfurt, aims to right this – and perhaps earn the scrappy ute a little respect. It will be pitched towards customers looking for something larger than a Juke but smaller than a Murano or Pathfinder.
Borrowing heavily from the styling cues of Nissan's Hi-Cross concept vehicle that debuted at the 2012 Geneva motor show, the '14 Rogue is more sharply defined than the softly styled model it replaces. In the vein of the latest Pathfinder SUV, the second-generation Rogue – which will be assembled at Nissan's plant in Smyrna, Tennessee (its global equivalent, the X-Trail, is built in various countries) – wears its chunky, glinting corporate face well.
A longer and wider body allows the Rogue, for the first time, to accommodate a third seating row, which helps position it against seven-seat crossovers like the Hyundai Santa Fe. Its interior is also significantly upgraded, deriving its soft-aesthetic cues from the Hi-Cross. A raft of standard upmarket features such as Bluetooth connectivity, USB ports and a rear-view monitor should also help the Rogue compete with segment stalwarts like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
Optional collision mitigation technologies like Nissan's Around-View Monitor as well as lane departure and blind-spot warning systems are also quite unique to the vehicle class.
Unchanged for the new model is the outgoing's Rogue's powertrain, a 170hp 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine coupled with a continuously variable automatic transmission. The standard Rogue will once again feature front-wheel drive; optional across the range, at $1,350 in the US, is all-wheel drive, which will also bundle in hill-descent control. If manufacturer estimates prove correct, the second-generation Rogue should edge the outgoing model’s fuel economy figures by 15%.
Still far from roguish in character, Nissan’s red-headed stepchild nevertheless seems more assured of its place in this crowded segment, which is fast becoming one of the largest profit centres for automakers of any size.