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Driving the 2013 USA Pro Challenge, #1: Mixed Bag debut in a 2013 Nissan Rogue

Driving the USA Pro Challenge in a 2013 Nissan Rogue

The third edition of the USA Pro Challenge begins Monday, Aug. 19 and it will take a field of 128 pro cyclists from 16 teams around Colorado for a week. I’m making the trip in a 2013 Nissan Rogue.

The compact crossover debuted in 2008 and the 2013 edition is the last year of the car’s first generation. The manufacturer announced recently a second generation will debut with the 2014 edition.

I drove from the Denver International Airport to Snowmass in about 5 hours, including a lunch stop and two five-minute stops for phone calls.

Driving the USA Pro Challenge in a 2013 Nissan Rogue
Driving the USA Pro Challenge in a 2013 Nissan Rogue. Images © James Raia

As a compact crossover, first impressions on the first of eight days in the Rogue were mixed. The Rogue is more carlike than an SUV and it drives like a family sedan. It has a short turning radius, a decent available all-wheel-drive (AWD) system and its price starts at less than $24,000.

The Rogue is also among only a few cars in its segment with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which in theory bolsters both fuel economy and power output.

That’s where the mixed part of the review comes into play. Driving the Rocky Mountains had  difficult moments, including about 45 minutes in my initial multi-hour trek in steady rain.

The Rogue performed OK in the inclement weather, but it didn’t handle the race-slick road with any great authority — even equipped with its optional all-wheel drive system.

As a four cylinder SUV, the Rogue has 2.5-liter, 170-horsepower engine. And that’s just not enough to command the road. The Rogue didn’t flounder uphill but it wasn’t stellar, either. And it’s certainly not as peppy as others in its class like the Subaru Forester or Kia Sportage.

For the first segment of the trip, I covered 215 miles and averaged 25.0 mpg in mostly highway traffic. The drive Monday from Snowmass to Aspen is only 10 miles, but the race entourage will stay in Snowmass, elevation at more than 9,000 feet, one more night. More inclement weather is predicted, so I’ll have another day at high altitude to test the Rogue.

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