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September 24, 2008 > Auto Review: 2008 Rogue by Nissan

Auto Review: 2008 Rogue by Nissan

Nissan unveiled its first small crossover SUV called the Rogue for the 2008 model year. It is designed to satisfy the functional needs of its owners and at the same time provide a driving experience that is full of pleasure and fun. My wife and I think that Rogue meets its design criteria.

The two Rogue models (S and SL) share the same primary drive train. The 2.5-liter, double overhead cam, 4-cylinder engine puts out plenty of horsepower (170 HP) and torque (175 foot pounds) to blast around in the 3,299 pound 2-wheel drive version. Then they also share the new Nissan CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) that we will discuss later. You can choose between all wheel-drive or two-wheel drive to suit your personal requirements and driving plans. For highway travel, the electronics in the all-wheel drive version only sends power to the front wheels to help save fuel.

Both models get the same complement of safety features. The Rogue's Vehicle Dynamic Control and Traction Control systems incorporate the ABS characteristics of its 4-wheel disc brakes. For the airbags, you get dual stage front impact, front side impact, and then front and rear seat roof-mounted curtain airbags. Front seat Active Head Restraints to help reduce head and neck injuries from a rear impact are standard. A tire pressure monitoring system is standard.

Our test Rogue was a front-wheel drive SL model. Its base price was $20,670 with a $745 destination charge on top of that. Its only option was the "premium package" that added $1,900 to the sticker. This package added a number of nice small items. The major pieces of the package were the upgraded 7-speaker Boise premium audio system, 6-disc CD changer, XM radio, trip computer, and paddle shifters. A moon roof is the only other available option. The S model is about $1,500 less expensive, and the all wheel drive system adds about $1,300 to the price.

So what is a CVT? A continuously variable transmission does not have a few specific gear ratios like a regular automatic or manual transmission. It effectively has thousands of gear ratios. This means that (with the help of a high speed computer) the transmission can actually make the choice and pick the exact set of gear ratios that is best for the vehicle at that specific time.

CVT's computer measures include throttle movement, vehicle speed and acceleration, engine speed, road gradient, and turning condition. Choice of gear ratios good for right now may not be the correct choice within the next few seconds of vehicle travel (such as when the hill gets steeper). The CVT will recognize those changes and pick new gear ratios to account for those changes. If the driver wants to play, he/she can override the computer by using the paddle shifters.

So how does the CVT and the Rogue in general work? Very well. It has good acceleration and is very peppy to drive. It rode smoothly but still had a sporty feel. The driving position was very good and the pedal placement was great. Instruments were well laid out and very easy to read and interpret. The interior provides a huge amount of storage space in several areas. Rogue has great outward visibility and backing up is not a "mystery trip."

The front wheel-drive Rogue produced 22 MPG city and 27 MPG in the highway tests. The all-wheel drive version was 1 MPG lower on both tests.

A Rogue would be a good, cost effective choice if this is the type of transportation you need.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists

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