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2008 Nissan Rogue

One more for the road

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

By

2008 Nissan Rogue

If you like the Murano, you'll like the Rogue.

Photo © BJ Killeen
The list of small crossovers is growing faster than a cornstalk in July. Just about every manufacturer has an offering in the segment, and now Nissan's jumping into the pile with the 2008 Rogue. This is the fifth SUV-ish vehicle for Nissan, and comes with the smallest powerplant in the lineup. It's based on Nissan's new C platform, which also serves as the underpinnings for the Sentra (all new last year). 2008 Nissan Rogue pricing has yet to be announced, but expect it to start under $20,000. Nissan's basic warranty is 3 years, 36,000 miles, with 5-year, 60,000-mile powertrain coverage. EPA: TBA.

First Glance

Larger exterior photos: Front Rear

If you like the modern looks of the Murano, you'll like the Rogue. All the journalists are calling it a mini Murano, and it's easy to see why. There's the same high kick up at the D-pillar, pronounced wheel arches, symmetrical eggcrate grille, and dual center crease lines on the hood. The Rogue has an aggressive silhouette, which is good since Nissan is aiming the cute ute at 30-something males who still want a vehicle that's fun to drive, but need more versatility since they're adding responsibilities like marriage and family.

The Rogue comes in two trim levels, S and SL, in AWD or 2WD, and with only a few packages that are available for the SL: Premium Package for either drivetrain, Moonroof Package, and Leather Package. The S comes standard with 16 x 6.5-inch steel wheels with full covers mounted with P215/70HR16 tires. The SL gets the bigger 17 x 70-inch 6-spoke alloy wheels with P225/60HR17 tires. Both offer a standard tire pressure monitoring system and a temporary spare.

Other exterior differences between the S and SL include body-colored mirrors, black privacy glass, and roof rails standard on the SL. Halogen headlamps are standard on both, with Xenon headlamps available as part of the Premium Package on the AWD SL model.

In the Driver's Seat

When you figure out what Stealth Ultra functionality is, please let us know.

Photo © BJ Killeen
Larger interior photo

Nissan refers to the interior as having Stealth Ultra functionality; when you figure out what that means, let us know. We think it looks clean and functional, but maybe a little plain. The controls are easy to reach, and the optional steering-wheel-mounted buttons are always appreciated. The paddle shifters are well placed behind the steering wheel, and the driver's seat provides good comfort. A front passenger fold down seat is handy for carrying long items, but it's part of the extra-charge Premium Package; too bad it's not standard, or at least available on the S trim level.

Nissan's Intelligent Key system is a favorite option, but, again, you must get the Premium Package if you want it. Intelligent Key lets you keep the key fob in your pocket and still unlock, lock, and start the car.

We loved the rear cargo organizer system that's easy to open with a push of a button. It can hold lots of items and keeps things from rolling around in back. That also can't be ordered stand alone, which means if you choose the S model, you're out of luck. We would have liked to see it with a split cover so you could still utilize the 8.5' carrying length plus put cargo in that under floor storage area.

On the Road

The only engine choice for the Rogue is Nissan's inline four-cylinder that makes 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft or torque. With California emissions, those numbers drop to 167 and 170 respectively. Nissan won't offer a V-6 option as that might step on the Murano's toes. Both the Toyota RAV4 and the Ford Escape offer V-6s in addition to their four cylinders. We wouldn't complain if Nissan gave it more power, as we had to floor it to climb through some of the elevated turns in the mountains. The slow spool up on the torque seems more a function of the Continuously Variable Transmission than engine performance, since the Rogue has more horsepower and torque than the 4-cylinder Toyota RAV4, CR-V, and Escape, all of which have traditional transmissions and seem a bit quicker to respond. The engine also generated some cabin noise, as did the tires on rougher asphalt.

The Rogue benefits from Nissan's talent for tuning a sporty ride. The four-wheel independent suspension features high-performance dampers and tuned rear suspension bushings with stabilizer bars at both ends to deliver a flat ride and sharp turning characteristics. We still don't get paddle shifters with a CVT, but if it makes a driver feel more involved, more power to him.

Journey's End

The Rogue benefits from Nissan's talent for tuning a sporty ride.

Photo © BJ Killeen
Other features we give credit for on the Rogue is the AWD system, which connects with the standard Vehicle Dynamic Control sensors (yaw, wheel sip, steering angle) to send torque front to rear as needed. The torque is split 50:50 at start in preparation of any type of surface. Don't forget to stick your head in the glovebox, as there's room enough for that and Calista Flockhart's entire body. We've also praised Nissan in the past for putting an auxiliary input audio jack even on the Versa, but you can only get it here with the Bose upgraded audio system that (say it with me) only comes with the Premium Package. We like the Rogue's handling and ride quite a bit, but wish the guys in the packaging department offered some stand-alone options for those who can't afford the high end SL packages.

The two other packages are the Moonroof Package which is just a power moonroof, and a Leather Package that upgrades the seats to leather as well as the steering wheel cover and shift knob, and adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, one-touch up/down driver's window, and a few other items.

Overall, we like the looks and the handling, but just wish for a more socialistic approach to providing the richest features to the poorest.

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