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Nissan Rogue
Sticker price: $20,220 - $23,010
AOL 'market price': $19,585 - $21,791
Mileage: 27 mpg Hwy, 22 mpg City
IIHS Top Safety Pick: Yes

With its shallow, sloping back window, the Rogue almost doesn't look like an SUV at all. It's part of a new family of crossovers that are basically tall hatchback cars. (If you remember the 1980s AMC Eagle, the profile will look familiar)

At this point, one has to ask: Why am I buying an SUV, anyway? While it's not bad, the rear storage space is less than competitors offer. Rearward visibility, a weak point in most SUVs, is really challenged in this one.

On the positive side, the Rogue is as cute as a kitten in a sock drawer. (Obviously that's a big part of the point here.) The back seats feel a little tight for daily use, but the front seats offer ample room and comfort. The high grand clearance, especially combined with all-wheel-drive, still offers advantages in deep snow when compared with a typical small car.

The steering is really good, but the driving enjoyment is dulled down by the continuously variable transmission. It makes for efficient power use but, keeping the engine at a constant drone without any up-shifts or down-shifts, there's not much feeling of power.

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Last updated February 02 2009: 9:20 AM ET
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