Urban crossover mixes style and aggression
Effectively replacing the aging X-Trail in Nissan’s lineup, the 2008 Rogue is aimed squarely at those who use their SUVs as a station wagon on stilts.
This “urban crossover” is based on the company’s Sentra platform, sharing most of its mechanical bits as well. And while other automakers are shoving third-row seats into their entry-level models, Nissan has correctly judged that having a flexible and spacious cargo area is more important than being able to squeeze seven people into space meant for five.
The Rogue, which competes in the rapidly expanding and highly competitive small crossover-SUV marketplace, comes in four flavours, in S and SL trim levels and in front- or all-wheel-drive models. Prices range from a reasonable $24,998 for the base-model, front-wheel-drive Rogue S to $29,598 for the top-line Rogue SL with all-wheel-drive.
Power comes exclusively from the corporate 170-horsepower, 2.4-litre “four” hooked up to Nissan’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) in either drive configuration. The engine is very quiet and, combined with a light curb weight, helps the Rogue set class leading fuel-economy numbers: An impressive 9.1 L/100 city and 7.2 L/100 km highway in front-drive form while the all-wheel-driver gets 9.5 in the city and 7.7 in highway use.
On the highway, this handsome hauler runs quietly and responsively with little engine or wind noise. The available heated seats in the SL we sampled were much appreciated, as was the very easily set up Bluetooth hands-free phone system that keeps your eyes and concentration on the road where they should be.
Traction and stability control are standard, as are anti-lock braking with electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist and six airbags. Steering wheel-mounted shift paddles, fog lights and a power glass moonroof are optional on all Rogues, while Nissan’s Intelligent Key, the above-mentioned hands-free phone and XM Satellite Radio can be packaged together on the SL trim version.
In this winter’s never-ending snowfalls, it quickly became apparent that the all-wheel-drive system in our up-level Rogue SL was very capable of handling the snow-clogged city streets without detracting from the vehicle’s pleasantly competent highway manners. The traction and stability control systems were working seamlessly and efficiently, keeping the Rogue straight and in line on the road.
The driver’s seating area has a cockpit-like feel to it with all gauges easily readable and all secondary controls within easy reach, which eliminated much of the usual fumbling around to find where everything is. The reddish-orange gauge lighting makes them easy to read as well as easy on the eyes when driving at night.
Nissan also took the time to look closely at the needs of today’s young drivers and their active lifestyles. From lots of convenient storage spaces to the available Bose audio, satellite radio and MP3 system, not only has Nissan managed to make the interior attractive and functional but has given the Rogue an appealing external appearance with its aggressive stance and commanding presence in its class.
2008 Nissan Rogue S