2008 Nissan Rogue
Nissan has decided to expand its crossover lineup for 2008 by offering a smaller, more economical alternative to its mid-size Murano, and as a result brings us the refreshingly affordable Nissan Rogue
. Marketed as a ‘fun to drive’ crossover, the Rogue shares its underpinnings with Nissan’s compact Sentra and promises small SUV usability for those who prefer its higher driving position and extra cargo space. With an optional all-wheel drive system and way above average fuel economy thanks to its constantly adjusting CVT transmission, the Rogue is a quality addition to the segment, and its aggressive pricing and solid build quality match the best the competition has to offer.
What's to Like
The interior of the Rogue is pretty high-grade given its market segment and price range. Desirable and useful options come standard, and fuel economy is particularly forgiving, even for a four-cylinder SUV.
What's Not to Like
Luggage space is limited, a theme that’s carried on in the rear seat, which has minimal legroom. The CVT transmission results in a lag-ridden throttle, taking slightly too much time to slide into a lower ratio after your right foot’s request.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
Being as the Rogue shares its platform with the Sentra
, it drives very much like a small sedan. The ride is soft and forgiving over even some of the most broken surfaces, and crashing through a pothole won’t send the steering wheel snapping back and fourth like some front-wheel drive crossovers tend to do. The electronic steering is soft and somewhat indistinct, which fits the everyday utilitarian character of the Rogue just fine. Road and wind noise aren’t an issue and remain nonintrusive even at speeds over 75 mph. While the Rogue isn’t underpowered by any means, you will have to time your passes well, as the CVT transmission takes a moment to deliver the goods when the pedal hits the stop, but think of the gas savings as you lumber along.
Engine and Drivetrain
The Nissan Rogue is powered by a 2.5-liter engine that produces 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. A continuously variable transmission is used to drive power through either the front axle or all four wheels. While the CVT transmission has no gears, strangely enough the steering wheel is equipped with paddle shifters that use fixed shift ratios to help keep the engine within a preferred rev range.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
Nissan’s Intuitive All-wheel Drive system can be added to the Rogue SL for $1,200. The system analyzes the car’s behavior and adjusts torque to each axle accordingly, using all four wheels for optimum grip off the line as well as during cornering, though only driving power through the front wheels while cruising for greater efficiency and comfort. We’d strongly recommend the premium package, which adds features such as an eight-speaker stereo with in-dash six-disc CD changer and steering wheel-mounted audio controls, fog lights, drive computer and fold-down passenger seats.
Key Technology Evaluation
While no integrated navigation system is offered on the Rogue, an equally effective (and significantly cheaper) Garmin nüvi 750 portable GPS system can be ordered for $540. Bluetooth connectivity is included with the AWD premium package, a welcome addition for long-distance daily commuters and Intelligent Key keyless entry and start is also included in the package.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
Due to its use of a 2.5-liter engine and CVT transmission, the Rogue delivers wallet-friendly economy numbers: 22 mpg city and 27 mpg highway for front-wheel drive models, and 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway for all-wheel drive models. Both LEV-II and lower emission SULEV engines are offered, with California cars receiving SULEV variants.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
The Rogue’s interior – while basic – is well appointed and comfortable, with high quality plastics covering the dash and in-cabin trim. Due to the slope of the windshield, the A-pillars are somewhat chunky and can obscure the driver’s view through corners, but generally aren’t a problem in daily city driving. All of the controls and buttons have a well-made feel and weight to them and follow an intuitive layout.
Design-wise, the Rogue isn’t revolutionary but remains eye-catching with its fishnet-style front grill and sloped roofline. Rogue SL models can be differentiated over the basic S model by their 17-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels, body-color power mirrors, roof rails, tinted windows and stainless steel exhaust-tip.
Market Segment and Pricing
Life in the compact crossover segment today is about as ruthless as it gets, but with an MSRP of $19,430 for the Rogue S and $20,970 for the Rogue SL, Nissan is coming locked and loaded, prepared to battle it out with the established competitors. The Rogue S remains within a few hundred dollars of the Suziki Grand Vitara
, Ford Escape
and Subaru Forester
, while the SL competes with Honda’s CR-V
, Hyundai’s Santa Fe
and Toyota’s Rav4
What We Think
Nissan has clearly learned from sitting by the wayside and watching other manufacturers compete in the compact crossover segment over the years. The result is an entry-level crossover that hits all the marks with its impressive list of standard features, quality interior design and above average fuel economy. With large SUV sales on the downturn, Nissan’s future-proof and inexpensive Rogue has entered the market right on cue. We think the Rogue is a sleeper mini-SUV and is one of our top picks for best SUVs of 2008.