Loh: "I was confused by the Honda's five-speed. If it doesn't let you manually select fourth, why have a five-speed?" St. Antoine: "You can punch up third with the button on the side of the shifter, but you can't get to fourth." What's up with that? And why is Nissan the planet's sole car company to figure out CVTs? Although our Rogue doesn't include the cool shifter paddles, you can still pop it into "low" for extra pep and all the rest of the time reap the CVT World-of-Tomorrow wonders-without the groaning and rubber-banding they typically inflict. At 8.0 seconds to 60, the Rogue's a rabbity 2.9 seconds quicker than the Saturn. If not for a middling stopping distance, it would run the table on the performance numbers.
Sometimes it takes just one or two specs to characterize a vehicle, and in the VUE Green Line's case, its width and weight are all the genetic code you need to know about it. The VUE is wide inside, its seats are wide, everything about it is wide. The bus-driver angle of the instrument pod suggests occupants who shout "Of course!" when the scratchy fast-food speaker-voice suggests supersizing lunch.
And here's a thought that ought to make you ponder: The Green Line's 3800-pound curb weight is 444 pounds-almost a quarter of a ton-greater than the trim-figured RAV4. A breakout perspective: According to sources on the Internet, offensive tackle Aaron Gibson is the heaviest player the NFL's ever known, once weighing 440 pounds. Imagine constantly hauling Mr. Gibson around in the back seat. Besides being creepy, it gives the VUE a tugboat feel. It's slow to accelerate, almost 11 seconds to 60 mph.
The silver lining is that the VUE glides over road seams and potholes with a sort of gravitational imperturbability. In corners, it doesn't fidget around. It can't. This prodigious weight is all the more reason to admire a combined EPA mileage of 27.7 mpg delivered from its belt-motor/generator-type hybrid system. And to smile, too, at tax time when you pencil in its $650 federal tax credit.