2012 Nissan Rogue
This is an easy one. Having driven the Murano and Rogue each for the last five or so years, we’ve come to a comfortable place with these rides. While the Murano’s luxury is easy to get used to, the Rogue crossover offers a more utilitarian version but with enough creature comfort for any buyer. The Rogue offers size and style and surprisingly stingy mileage. We tend to drive our test cars a few hundred miles a week, and we got used to the Rogue right away. Ergonomically, every necessary dial and switch is reachable and logical. And Yes, someone over 6’2” easily fits into this ride.
It isn’t the zippiest and the takeoff is vaguely sluggish, but at highway speed, there is a fair response to the throttle.
There are several trims (in car talk, “trim” means “version”) available including the SV Value with a rear view monitor, Bluetooth and hands-free phone, the always fun, keyless entry and ignition (a growing trend these days), Sirius XM Satellite and a spot for the iPod. The interface for iPod and the Rogue is what we like to see—your playlist comes right up and the Rogue takes over, as it should. The Special Edition package adds foglights, and rear privacy glass, as well.
2012 VW Beetle
I was sitting in my apartment when a text from a neighbor arrived over the phone waves: “Love your new ride!” she swooned in a text-y kind of way. This is the kind of response the ‘new’ new Beetle creates. It’s longer and roomier for this year, and the longer profile gives the car a vaguely more “masculine” stance, easing away from the chick appeal of the originally redesigned Beetle.
There is a lot of room, especially headroom, in this one, and the feel is comfortable and secure at the same time. At cruising speed, the engine is responsive but not overwhelming, but then, it’s a Beetle, not a Beemer.
The audio system (which is why you buy a car, right?) is smart, logical and stylish, and works well with all your devices, though why most new car audio systems don’t automatically charge plugged-in devices is still The Great Mystery to me.
There is enough room in the Beetle to store your tools, though probably not enough to store your skis. But you know that. It’s a relatively economical ride that offers a lot of style and just enough “there” there to equal out the style/usefulness equation.
We’re giving it a solid “B,” as in Beetle.
The Cube follows the same lounge/club /soul cruiser/mail delivery truck formula of the Kia Soul, and the Scion—an ugly beautiful mix of design and dub. It’s a first new car for the upward-ish twenty something, who still hasn’t ditched that greasy soul patch under his chin or understand that the baseball cap backwards thing doesn’t really work when youre over ten years old. Or maybe his admin asst gal pal who thinks the whole thing is chill, and appreciates the excellent mileage you get with this ride.
The first thing you notice inside are the interior is the cool club lighting illuminating the floor and cup holders, along with the regulation dome lighting. There is a consistent “swirl” motif along the roof and various panels. Crank up the serious audio system and all you need are lights pointing the way to the restrooms and the exits. And how about this? The back seats tilt back like a couch. You’re already in the VIP lounge. You can ignore that dashboard topper of shag carpet, though. Methinks its just some designers inside joke. (‘They let me do it, I can’t believe it!”)
The SL edition offers a more powerful audio system, along with Bluetooth with full iPod interactivity.
Here’s the other thing: the back gate opens like a fridge, and it’s a bit of a hassle in parking lots. Again, another victory for form over function. But the Cube is still an economical and intelligent car, with room for your friends and enough cool factor to draw the eye of that blonde crossing the street…..right now.
It starts at 18k, and in today’s upside-down world, it earns a Value merit badge.