Review: 2013 Nissan Rogue SL – Frugal Crossover with Luxurious Flare

2013 nissan rogue grill sl

The 2013 Nissan Rogue is fighting in a very competitive small to mid-size crossover segment.  It has to do battle against the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, and Honda CR-V to name just a few.  This Rogue is also at the end of its lifecycle, and a fully redesigned model coming soon.  Does it have what it takes to remain competitive?  Read on to find out.

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2013 Nissan Rogue SL AWD $27,950 $30,965 170 / 175
EPA Rating MPG As Tested MPG
Rating: LEASE IT!  22 / 27 Combined 24  24.0

First Impressions

The 2013 Nissan Rogue has a sleek exterior appearance and the top of the line SL package adds cool looking rims.  The Black Amethyst paint on this car makes the women take a second look.  However, the interior of the Rogue does not feel as big as some of its competitors.

2013 nissan rogue sl interior dash


The Rogue has been around since 2008 and the exterior styling has not changed much.  The front grill and the headlight lenses have been slightly tuned for better aerodynamics.  The sleek design has aged well.  This Nissan still stands out in the crowd and its rebellious character still shines through.  The oddly named SV with SL package Rogue is the top dog.  It lets it be known with stylish 18-inch rims and chrome accents throughout.

The interior is a slightly different story.  It is showing the age with many hard plastics and a very small infotainment screen in the center stack.  The center console does not have any storage cubby holes, so if you are using the cup holder to hold a cup, then it’s not so easy to find a good place for your phone or other random stuff.  Driver’s seating position is good, but my 6’2” frame had barely enough head room.  The gauges are clear and easy to see.  The rear seating area is accommodating and handled my five and two year olds just fine.  The child seat and booster were simple to install.

2013 nissan rogue sl engine motor


Underneath, the Rogue has not changed much since its inception. When it went on sale six years ago, it was one of the first to offer very good efficiency thanks to a 2.5-liter inline four engine mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).  This large four-cylinder makes 170 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque, but you do have to rev it above 4,400 rpm to get full power.  Nissan makes some of the best CVT transmissions in the business, but the one in this Rogue did not feel that great.  Perhaps, it was the lack of power at high altitude (one mile above sea level around Denver, CO)?  After all, at close to 3,500 lbs of curb weight, this is a relatively heavy crossover.

Although, the Rogue did not feel as willing to accelerate, it returned a very respectable average of 24 MPG after a week of mixed city and highway driving.  This is nearly 10% better than I managed in the 2013 Toyota RAV4.  Colorado received awful amount of rain and ensuing severe flooding, but the Rogue handled the heavy rain storms very well.  The visibility remained good and the AWD system helped on slick and water logged roadways.


The 2013 Nissan Rogue feels good in the corners and on rough pavement, but the bar on handling and comfort keeps moving ever higher.  World class handling is defined by the redesigned Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape, and Toyota RAV4.  And Honda CR-V is refining the suspension comfort level close to the luxury level.  This is not to say that the Rogue is not competent.  It’s tuned to be more of an all-around performer, versus being the best in any one characteristic.  It has a high 8.3 inches of ground clearance, but the lean through corners is well controlled.  The steering feel is not the best, but it provides enough feedback to give the driver confidence.

2013 nissan rogue sl review video


Starting Retail Price City/Hwy MPG HP / Lb-Ft Interior cu-ft
2013 Nissan Rogue SL $27,950 22/27 170/175 97.5
2013 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ $33,595 20/29 182/172 99.7
2013 Ford Escape SEL $30,815 22/30 173/184 98.1
2013 Honda CR-V Ex-L $29,625 22/30 185/163 101.5
2013 Hyundai Tucson Auto $27,950 20/27 170/163 101.9
2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited $30,990 NA 184/171 104.4
2013 KIA Sportage SX $29,250 20/25 260/269 100.0
2013 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring $29,390 25/31 155/150 102.3
2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport LE $25,720 24/29 148/145 97.5
2013 Subaru Crosstrek Limited $25,290 25/33 148/145 97.5
2013 Toyota RAV4 Limited $29,270 22/29 176/172 100.7

This is a very tough segment to compete in, and the 2013 Rogue is at the end of its lifecycle.  However, it’s not ready to push over and leave.  The Rogue SL has some high-tech features like the surround view that helps with backing up and parking.  And its AWD system is very capable, as TFL recently found out (see video below).

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2013 Nissan Rogue SL a Lease It!

This test crossover stickered at $30,965.  This as tested price is not the highest in the segment, but the dated interior does not provide as much value.  This is why I cannot give it the Buy It! rating.  Nonetheless, this crossover is easy on the fuel and will satisfy most needs of a small family or people with active lifestyle.

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Andre Smirnov

Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, writer, reporter, and software engineer. He has been a contributor at TFL since 2011. When not working or spending time with the family – you can find him tinkering in the garage or simply ‘going for a drive’.