In the ever-blurring spectrum of small SUVs and tiny crossovers, there now seems to be a car for every possible whim. Don't believe it? Okay, say you're young, kids are a long (long) way off, you rather fancy yourself a square peg in a round-hole world, and, most crucial, you're the sporty type who might spontaneously head to the mountains one weekend and to a rock concert in the desert the next. Which car? sound like the Rogue type to us. No, not you personally, but the Nissan Rogue. We might not be analyzing 29 parameters of compatibility here, but we're seasoned people/car matchmakers, so trust us. All right, as Ronald Reagan wisely said, "Trust but verify" -- so here's some substantiation, too.

For starters, the Rogue is a heck of a value, important to young folks saddled with student loans and expensive jeans to pay for. Rogue prices range from $19,995 for the front-drive version in base S trim to $22,735 for an SL-equipped AWD. Both are a steal, with the AWD, in particular, representing a lot of capability for the money. Value argument? Check.

Next, it's sporty. With a 0-to-60-mph sprint in 8.0 seconds flat and handling that can howl-up 0.78 g at the cornering limit, it's the brisk little 'ute that can. In fact, the Rogue's performance numbers border on physics-defying -- or at least expectations-challenging -- given that it's working with no more than a middling 170 hp from its 2.5L, four-cylinder engine against a fairly typical curb weight in this category -- 3359 lb. So why is it a second to a second-and-a-half quicker to 60 mph than virtually all of its competition? We can only point to its transmission, a CVT.

If you're not familiar with Continuously Variable Transmissions, the big idea is that they're stepless -- instead of the familiar first gear, second gear, third gear stuff, any ratio you care to name is available (within limits). The upshot is near ideal matching of the engine's characteristics to your acceleration, cruising, or hill-climbing, needs. It's a better powertrain matchmaker, so to speak.