The Krom's responsive and relatively confident turn-in proved very enjoyable, as did the high front passenger seating position, which provided impeccable forward visibility. The SUV is a cinch to maneuver in the tightest alleyways or frantic shopping centers, thanks to some compact measurements. Its rough, teeth-jittering ride, though, got us wishing for a softer sprung suspension -- or at least some cushier rubber and squishier seats. And forget about a clear rearward view or capacious cargo room. The thick C-pillars, little rear end, and miniscule back glass hinder both of those.

The standard 170-horsepower (167 horses in California) 2.5-liter four-cylinder remains in the Rogue S Krom. Same goes for the Xtronic CVT. Given its respectable fuel mileage (22 city/27 highway) and power outputs, plus its smooth, peppy demeanor, it is hard to fault this city-loving powertrain.

But building speed for a seamless merge into highway traffic is a sweat-inducing, triple-check-of-the-blind-spot endeavor. We found ourselves leaning heavily into the slim pedal, with the tachometer needle hitting redline, vainly hoping for more juice to arrive at the shiny front-wheels. (All-wheel drive is available.) With the gas mashed, the engine/gearbox doles out a deafening drone that pierces the sparse, roomy interior. Within the confines of urban blocks or slow-going suburban paths, such is hardly the case.

As it is based on the lowest S trim, the Krom gets the bare essentials. A four-speaker FM/AM/CD stereo, cruise control, air conditioning, power locks and windows, and an under-floor rear storage bin stand out on the features list. Surprisingly, vanity mirrors are missing from the sunshade visors. A standard S trim that we later drove didn't have the visor mirrors either, so be sure your date fixes his/her hair before jumping inside.

Luckily, the Rogue's likeable -- and naturally different -- personality filters through the Krom's questionably hipper skin and claimed "attitude." It remains the fun, spacious, and competent entry-level crossover we've enjoyed since late 2007. (A refreshed 2011 Rogue arrives later this month.) Sure, if you really want to "go rogue," pick up a Krom. But if making a bold statement isn't your MO, the cheaper, more attractive, and no less competent standard editions are the better way to go.

2010 Nissan Rogue S Krom
Base price $24,860
Vehicle layout Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door, SUV
Engine Engines 2.5L/170-hp /175-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve 4-cyl I-4
Transmission cont. variable auto
Curb weight 3300 lb (mfr)
Wheelbase 105.9 in
Length x width x height 182.9 x 70.9 x 65.3 in
0-60 mph 8.0 sec (MT est)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 22 / 27 mpg
CO2 emissions 0.81 lb/mile
On sale in U.S. Currently