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2008 Nissan Rogue SL Review

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Model:2008 Nissan Rogue SL
Engine: 2.5-liter inline 4
Horsepower/Torque: 170 hp @ 6000 rpm/175 lb.-ft. @ 4400 rpm
Transmission: CVT
Wheelbase: 105.9 in.
Length/Width/Height: 182.8 x 70.9 x 65.3 in.
Tires: 225/60R17
Cargo volume: 28.3 cu. ft. (58 cu. ft. with seats down)
Fuel economy: 22 mpg city/27 mpg highway
Fuel capacity: 15.9 gal.
Sticker: $20,450 (base, AWD, plus $745 destination charge)

The Bottom Line: Nissan’s new rogue crossover sport utility is loaded with great features and decent performance. As a competitor with the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, it can hold its own in performance, comfort and feature content. The fact that it looks like a mini-Murano doesn’t hurt, either.

Nissan is in the midst of a product barrage that includes a new Murano, among other things. But before the new Murano hit the road, Nissan snuck in with the Rogue, a crossover that will remind car shoppers of the Murano.

Like its big brother, the Rogue has performance-oriented styling and stealth ultra-functionality. “Stealth” is the big word with this vehicle, especially in its details. And while all-wheel drive is offered, the Rogue is intended as a contemporary urban-looking vehicle that is not intended for serious off-roading.

As Nissan’s first entry into the hot small crossover segment, the Rogue has some interesting competition. Toyota’s RAV4 and Honda’s CR-V have both been on the market for several years, as have the Suzuki Grand Vitara and Subaru Forester. The segment has sales in excess of one million units a year, which makes it attractive to all manufacturers.

As are all good crossovers, the Rogue is based on a small sedan platform, in this case the Sentra. Under the Rogue’s hood is a 2.5-liter inline four that delivers a healthy 170 hp and 175 lb.-ft. of torque. Both are more than adequate for very good performance on highways and back roads. We drove the Rogue in the city and in the country, and were totally pleased with the performance.

Normally, one would expect a four-cylinder engine to be buzzy on hard acceleration. Either the Rogue’s sound-deadening is excellent or the QR25DE engine is well-balanced, because we felt the engine was quiet. Sure, get real serious on acceleration and it will complain, but in normal acceleration, it’s fine.

The engine is connected to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that is programmed to give the feel of shift points, but is essentially “shiftless.” It’s a good gearbox for this engine. Rogue is Nissan’s sixth model in the United States with a CVT.

The CVT also offers a manual mode with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters that add to the “fun to drive” idea.

Among the various “stealth” features is very good handling on winding roads. The body stiffness and high performance contribute to minimal body movement, which gives the driver and passengers a secure feeling. Rogue’s all-wheel drive system can vary torque distribution from 100 percent front-wheel drive to 50-50, depending on what the Vehicle Dynamic Control system sensors tell it to do. The result is that Rogue is secure and stable in all road conditions.

Seating is comfortable. My co-driver and I enjoyed front seat comfort, while my wife, who was relegated to the back seat during the test drive, said leg room was very good. She never felt cramped or claustrophobic. A full complement of air bags, including a roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental airbag protects front and rear passengers.

Another “stealth” feature is the pop-up cargo organizer in the rear. Lift up the cargo compartment floor and detachable partitions also pop up, creating three compartments for grocery bags, etc. The bin is also washable.

The center console is also “ultra-functional.” It has a pen holder, card holder, rear cup holder, two front cup holders, a mobile box that can hold tissues or CDs, a 12V outlet, coin holder, wallet or garage door opener holder and a cell phone holder.

The large glove box also has a partition that has room for the owner’s manual and a folding umbrella, as well as a CD holder on the bottom.

Rogue isn’t going to dominate the market, primarily because Nissan’s overall impact is not as strong as the major competition. It will, however, give the RAV4 and CR-V a run for their money ina hot segment.

2007 The Auto Page Syndicate