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2014 Best Cheap SUVs

Nissan Rogue

All-new for model-year 2014, this second-generation Rogue is far better looking than the 2008 original and it’s the only compact crossover in its competitive set available with seven-passenger seating. Nissan gives the redesigned Rogue a better-defined nose, a chiseled new body, and a more secure stance. But it’s a repeat mechanically, maintaining a 170-horsepower four-cylinder as the sole engine and a continuously variable automatic as the only transmission. The combination provides adequate get-up-and-go. And while it allows some annoying engine drone during acceleration, the continuously variable transmission contributes to a sterling 28-mpg combined rating. Also notable is Rogue’s uncommonly absorbent ride, accurate steering, all all-around satisfying road manners. The Cheap star here is the midline SV model, starting at $26,440 with AWD. From there you can follow several option paths and remain under our $30,000 limit. The third-row seat that increases capacity from five to seven is really for occasional use by elementary-school kids. If you recognize the value of that capability, adding the little bench requires the $940 SV Family Package option. From here, you can go for the $1,420 SV Premium Package. It adds a navigation system (albeit one with a fairly compact 7-inch screen), a power liftgate, rear- and over-the-shoulder blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning. It also projects on the nav screen a nifty 360-degree bird’s eye video view of your Rogue; it’s a confidence builder in tight-quarters maneuvering. That gets you to $28,800. Keep the third-row seat but substitute the $1,320 SV Moonroof Package for the Premium Package and you’ll have a $27,700 SV with a ceiling mostly of tinted glass and a slide-open forward panel. Forget the Family Package and go with the Premium and Moonroof options and you’re still Cheap, at $29,180.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]