I just had the opportunity to drive a compact SUV I actually liked: the 2011 Nissan Rogue. While the price of the test car came in around $27K, I don't think you have to top out there. I liked the AWD that came on the test car, but I could probably do without pretty much every other option. So, if all you want is AWD, you're looking at $22K. Which I think is just right for a compact SUV you'll drive in Chicago.
Other things I liked about the Rogue:
- Easy to parallel park in an urban environment
- Peppy 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that delivers 170 horsepower
- Attractive exterior with sleek lines
- Easy step-in height
- Great turning radius
- Comfortable driving position
- Smooth continuously variable transmission
- Estimated MPGs for the AWD model in the 22/26 range with actual combined MPGs in the 22 to 23 mpg range
The Chicago-worthy rating on the Rogue: I'd slot it between an 8
and a 9. I have a hard time giving any SUV a perfect 10, but the Rogue
comes close. Compact, reasonably priced and easy to drive, this is a car
you'll love to drive and won't fret over every ding and dent. Plus the
AWD is a huge bonus for the 4 months of snow, slush, sleet mix we get
here in the Chi.