2008 Rogue New Car Test Drive
The Nissan Rogue is a compact SUV in the crossover style, much like the Honda CR-V. Despite the recent trend toward seven-passenger seating, the Rogue seats five. And while other compact SUVs offer V6 power, the Rogue is strictly a four-cylinder, again like the CR-V.
Based on an economy car platform, the Rogue is meant as a daily commuter, not an off-road adventure vehicle. The towing capacity is only 1500 pounds and the available all-wheel drive system is intended more for snow and rain than rocks and mud. The four-cylinder engine works well with the continuously variable transmission to provide decent pickup and frugal fuel economy.
Behind the wheel, the Rogue offers carlike ride and handling. We think it's one of the better handling small SUVs, but it's not sporty or particularly fun to drive. The ride allows for a lot of road feel and can become hard on pockmarked roads. Road imperfections and engine sounds also intrude on the cabin, leaving passengers thinking that the Rogue could benefit from more sound insulation.
Otherwise, the cabin is pleasant, with some materials that would look good in higher priced vehicles. The controls are easy to use and understand, but the Rogue lacks some of the creature comforts and tech gadgets that are starting to filter down to lower priced vehicles. There is no navigation system, for instance.
An SUV should provide cargo utility, and the Rogue is up to the task. The rear seats fold flat and there is even an available folding front passenger seat to permit longer items to be loaded. In back, Nissan also offers a handy cargo organizer that can keep groceries from sliding around and provide storage for muddy clothes.
With starting prices starting below $20,000, the Rogue is a worthy competitor for the higher-priced Honda CR-V. Its carlike road manners, cargo utility and prudent fuel economy make it appealing to young families or active singles. Those who want to go off-road or tow a trailer will be better served by more rugged vehicles.
The Nissan Rogue is offered in two trim levels, S and SL, each with front- or all-wheel drive. All Rogues have a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower. It is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission with an infinite number of gear ratios. When the SL Premium Package is ordered, the transmission has shift paddles to select among six predetermined gear ratios. The all-wheel-drive system is meant for on-road use, and it does not include low-range gearing.
The Rogue S models come standard with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, four-way manually adjustable front seats, cruise control, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD stereo with four speakers and auxiliary input jack, 60/40 split-folding rear bench seat and 215/70R16 all-season tires on steel wheels. S models have no options.
The Rogue SL models with six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, roof rails and 225/60R17 on aluminum wheels.
Optional for SL are a sunroof and a Leather Package with leather upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, six-way power driver's seat with power lumbar support, one-touch up/down driver's window, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Homelink universal garage door opener and a compass. A Premium Package for front-drive SL models includes Bose premium audio with seven speakers and six-disc CD changer, XM satellite radio, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, speed-sensitive volume control, paddle shifters, trip computer, outside temperature display, foldable rear cargo organizer, rear tonneau cover, fold-flat front passenger seat, fog lights, illuminated front visor mirrors, center console dual-level tray and mood lighting. The Premium Package for AWD models has that equipment plus Bluetooth hands-free cell phone link, xenon headlights, and Nissan's Intelligent key keyless ignition.
Safety features include dual front airbags, torso-protecting front side airbags, head-protecting curtain side airbags with rollover sensors, front seat active head restraints, LATCH-style child seat anchors, tire-pressure monitor, ABS with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution, traction control and antiskid control.