2008 Nissan Rogue Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Very carlike driving experience, supple ride, well-crafted interior, comfy front seats, excellent brakes, sweet-sounding optional Bose stereo.
- Less cargo capacity and versatility than some other compact crossovers, standard CVT is a poor match for the engine, impaired outward visibility.
The all-new 2008 Nissan Rogue is a stylish little crossover that provides plenty of comfort and convenience for those who don't need a maximum amount of utility.
It's not quite to the extent of Moon Unit Zappa or Apple Martin, but the 2008 Nissan Rogue should give its parents hell for its name. While its similarly styled big brother Murano is named after the glass-making island in beautiful Venice, the little Rogue is at best named after a rather dull X-Men character. At worst, this stylish cute-ute crossover shares its moniker with an uncontrolled animal that lives apart from the herd, or a plant that is inferior and unwanted. Do Nissan's marketing folks not have a dictionary in the office?
While the marketers blundered, the engineers flourished for this all-new small SUV. It may look like a Murano after a trip through a hot spin cycle, but under the skin, the Rogue is closely related to the compact Sentra sedan. Surprisingly, the Rogue manages to be better-looking, better-riding and more useful than its underwhelming progenitor. It shares the Sentra's vague electric steering, but offers an all-independent long-travel suspension that smoothly gobbles up road imperfections. It is stable at higher speeds and provides a good combination of highway and city road manners. If you're looking for a compact crossover that drives most like a car, this is it.
Powering the Rogue is a torquey 170-horsepower four-cylinder engine that provides smooth acceleration on par with other vehicles in the class. Unfortunately, it is tied to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) -- a design Nissan has utilized with great success in the V6-powered Altima, but needs rethinking here. Feeling like it's partially constructed of rubber bands, the CVT can get maddening on the freeway, constantly raising and dropping revs like a yo-yo whenever the driver moves on or off the gas. It seems that this just isn't the right technology for a small engine.
Nissan says it has the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V in its sights, but the Rogue is significantly smaller than those models. Therefore, families or those in need of superior people-hauling and cargo versatility may find the Rogue lacking. Its rear seat doesn't recline, slide forward or offer a center armrest, and rear visibility is hampered by a rising beltline and small rear window.
Instead, the 2008 Nissan Rogue is a very good choice for suburbanites who enjoy an elevated driving position and occasionally need the utility and available all-wheel drive of a compact crossover. The Rogue may not be the largest, most family-friendly or powerful compact crossover, and in addition to the aforementioned rivals, you'll probably want to cross-shop models like the Ford Escape, Mazda CX-7 and Saturn Vue. That said, this Nissan sets itself apart from the herd with comfortable, carlike road manners and eye-catching styling. In that way, maybe it's a tad roguelike after all.
2008 Nissan Rogue models
The 2008 Nissan Rogue is a five-passenger compact crossover SUV available in four trim levels: S, S AWD, SL and SL AWD. The AWD refers to all-wheel drive. The S and S AWD are identical save for their drivetrains, with standard equipment that includes 16-inch steel wheels, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, air-conditioning, full power accessories, keyless entry and a four-speaker stereo with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. There are no factory options for the S trim levels.
The SL and SL AWD are virtually identical, but the latter offers additional optional equipment. Standard features beyond those on the S include 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, tinted windows and a height-adjustable driver seat. In typical Nissan fashion, options are lumped together into large packages. The SL Premium Package includes foglights, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, a cargo cover, a fold-down front passenger seat, a trip computer and a seven-speaker Bose stereo with in-dash six-CD changer, MP3 capability and satellite radio.
The SL AWD Premium package includes those features, but adds xenon headlights, keyless ignition and entry, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and Bluetooth. The Leather Package is only available on the SL AWD and includes leather upholstery, heated front seats and mirrors, power driver seat, one touch up/down driver window and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and HomeLink. Both SL trim levels can be equipped with a sunroof.
Performance & mpg
All 2008 Nissan Rogues are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 170 hp and 175 pound-feet of torque. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard, while buyers have a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. In performance testing, a Rogue SL AWD accelerated to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds, which is on par with other four-cylinder-powered compact crossovers. Fuel economy is 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway for the all-wheel-drive models (22/27 for FWD Rogues), which is again on par with similarly powered competitors.
Each Nissan Rogue comes well stocked with safety equipment including antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability and traction control, front seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints.
A "carlike" driving experience is often touted among crossovers, but the 2008 Nissan Rogue delivers on this description. Its long travel suspension soaks up bumps and road imperfections easily, and the Rogue is stable at speed. Short stopping distances are another Rogue plus. The electric power steering can be a little vague at times, but it is generally direct and well-tuned.
On the other hand, we're rarely fans of CVTs, and the Rogue's does nothing to change our minds. It's better than some other examples, but the elastic-band throttle response and engine note gets tiresome -- particularly at highway speeds. It also manages to make the Rogue feel slower than it actually is. An available manual shift mode with paddle shifters rectifies this situation somewhat by allowing the driver to select among six simulated "gear" ratios.
The Rogue's cabin may not be as visually interesting as its exterior, but it is well-constructed with excellent materials. All controls fall readily to hand and are easy to decipher. The Rogue doesn't have many storage areas, but what it lacks in number, it makes up for in size. The center console bin is large, while the enormous glovebox is more useful than some convertibles' trunks. There is also a nifty under-floor organizer.
In a four-vehicle comparison test involving the Rogue, Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Mitsubishi Outlander, we found the Nissan to have the most comfortable front seats and darn comfortable rear ones as well. Unfortunately, that rear seat only folds flat, and doesn't recline or slide fore and aft like those other crossovers. The Rogue also comes up short in terms of cargo volume, with 28.9 cubic feet with the rear seat up and just 57.9 with it folded.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
NHTSA Overall Rating
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverallNot Rated
- Side Barrier RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront SeatNot RatedBack SeatNot Rated
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of RolloverNot Rated
- Side Impact TestGood
- Roof Strength TestNot Tested
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
More About This Model
Sometimes a vehicle's name causes us head-scratching confusion. Take the Dodge Sprinter, an airport shuttle van in disguise that does not exactly evoke Olympian Carl Lewis.
Or more to the point, the 2008 Nissan Rogue SL AWD, a small crossover SUV based on the platform of the Sentra sedan. It's a pleasant little sport-utility, with stylish 17-inch wheels and a capable AWD system. But "Rogue"? A rogue is an underhanded, mischievous person — a scamp. Someone you make damn sure to keep an eye on. Apparently, Nissan is trying to get our attention.
And it has to. The 2008 Nissan Rogue is another entry in the segment of small, car-based crossover SUVs, a part of the market where new vehicles are arriving every day. It's meant to appeal to those who have left behind the me-first cars of their youth and have graduated to greater responsibility, but aren't yet ready to resign themselves to a family-friendly crossover or minivan.
A Little Off the Top
Nissan offers the Rogue in just two trim levels, S and SL. Both are available with either front- or all-wheel drive. All are equipped with a 2.5-liter 16-valve DOHC inline-4 making 170 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque, sent through Nissan's continuously variable transmission (CVT). Based on a platform introduced by the newly enlarged 2007 Nissan Sentra, the Rogue rides on a long 105.9-inch wheelbase. There's room for five passengers, with 126.4 cubic feet of passenger volume.
The Rogue has been styled to deliver the same look as the Nissan Murano, a vehicle that inspires a lot of loyalty among Nissan enthusiasts. The differences in the Rogue's two trim levels are minor, with the SL appealing to those of the sporty persuasion, who want a moonroof for star-gazing and a roof rack for carrying a kayak or mountain bike.
Once you're behind the wheel, you're first struck by the sheer amount of plastic within the interior. The dash appears cheap at first, but the soft-touch plastic has a pleasant malleability to it, and the silver-painted plastic surrounds look sharp.
Audiophiles that we are, we appreciated the Rogue's optional Bose stereo, a key item in utes of this class. It has seven speakers and a six-disc CD changer, and even offers audio controls on the steering wheel and speed-sensitive volume control. From Incubus to Thelonious Monk, the sound is strong and full of life.
This Rogue SL's optional leather-upholstered front seats are comfortable, but the six-way manual adjustment has its limitations, as our seat companion (apparently pampered by electronic seat controls in the past) inadvertently released the seatback and it flipped forward and whacked her in the noggin with the headrest. Fortunately, the Rogue's enormous glovebox (a full half-cubic-foot in capacity by Nissan's measurement) was able to accommodate a bag of ice, a box of Advil, a pillow, two gauze bandages and a crash helmet.
The second-row 60/40 split-fold seat helps maximize the Rogue's cargo-carrying capacity, and the fold-down front seat (only in SL trim) also gives this SUV the ability to carry something 8.5 feet long. But rear-seat passengers aren't treated with the same thoughtfulness, as the seat neither reclines nor slides fore and aft.
The Final Frontier
Space, in fact, is something that the designers of the Rogue have obviously thought about. The Rogue maximizes space efficiency with its huge glovebox and a center console compartmentalized to hold everything from CDs to a cell phone, a memo pad and different-size cups. In back, the touch of a button triggers a pop-up cargo organizer that combines a plastic floor and cargo nets that together keep grocery bags or tools from moving around too much. There's also an optional removable tray beneath the rear cargo floor to carry wet clothes or dirty sports equipment.
The Rogue's cargo area has a very large footprint, but the capacity is actually only 56.9 cubic feet — some 14 cubic feet smaller than its competition. The under-floor organizer and gear compartment steal away a couple crucial inches of capacity and also increase liftover height, plus the spare tire is also carried under the floor.
In any case, a Chevy Suburban the Rogue ain't. It's not designed to haul more than a driver, a passenger and two full-size adults (or maybe two adults and a kid) in the back. The SL model's maximum tow rating of 1,500 pounds is good for maybe a Jet Ski or a couple dirt bikes.
It's the Economy, Stupid
In order to differentiate it from the Murano with its 3.5-liter V6, Nissan has limited the Rogue to a four-cylinder engine. Fortunately this is Nissan's perky 2.5-liter four, which delivers 170 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and (more important) 175 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. Balance shafts help this engine deliver surprisingly smooth performance.
Although the combination of a four-cylinder engine and this 3,544-pound, all-wheel-drive crossover doesn't deliver acceleration that's exactly staggering, this Rogue gets to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds on the way to the quarter-mile mark in 16.9 seconds at 83 mph. The Rogue also ingratiates itself with respectable EPA-rated fuel economy, 21 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
The Rogue's CVT helps maximize its fuel economy, and the combination of the CVT and the torquey inline-4 delivers calm, carlike refinement in urban traffic. Once you put your foot down to ask for more, however, the CVT has to do a lot of ratio swapping to get the power you require, and the result is sluggish throttle response followed by lots of engine noise. In these circumstances, the Rogue SL's optional steering wheel-mounted shift paddles are a necessity.
Stop or My Rogue Will Shoot
Although the Explorer rollover terror has been largely forgotten, Nissan still wants you to know that a sport-utility can be a safe ride on the highway. Stability control comes as standard equipment, and there's curtain-type head-protection airbags with a rollover sensor.
The Rogue also delivers four-wheel disc brakes, brakeforce distribution and even brake assist. While the Rogue doesn't stop with a tremendous amount of grace, diving deep on its long-travel suspension and offering a hint of wheel hop, it comes to a halt from 60 mph in a surprising 123 feet, impressive for its class.
The Rogue's bodywork incorporates a very high beltline, and its character line sweeps up so high in the rear that it impedes vision to the rear corners. The Rogue's rear window is also absolutely tiny. So despite its compact size, the Rogue is actually difficult to park. Of course, we can't really think of anyone who drives in reverse for long periods of time, other than the protagonist of A Bronx Tale.
Handling is another story. The Rogue's relatively long 105.9-inch wheelbase makes it feel relatively sure-footed. As an SUV (though an all-weather soft-roader rather than an off-road vehicle), the Rogue has lots of suspension travel, and this makes the tall Nissan a little clumsy in quick directional transitions. Yet the ride is notably comfortable, and there's none of the bounding-down-the-road feel that makes other small sport-utes seem cheap and unpleasant. The 225/60HR17 Dunlop Grand Trek tires help the Rogue deliver 0.79g on the skid pad.
As carlike as the Rogue is, all that suspension travel also keeps the steering from feeling very precise, and you find yourself constantly making adjustments with the wheel, particularly when on that narrow road to try out your new mountain bike. Even so, this electric power-assist rack-and-pinion is one of the best we've sampled, and it feels natural and intuitive.
Once it's off-road, the Rogue's long wheelbase doesn't do it any favors on rough terrain, but 8.3 inches of ground clearance combined with a 21.8-degree approach angle and 19.9-degree breakover angle allow this Nissan to maneuver around the rocks for a camping trip.
The Name of the Rogue
Nissan set out to deliver a little brother to the Murano, and it has delivered exactly that. The 2008 Nissan Rogue is best as an everyday utility vehicle, a car that just happens to be big enough to carry all your stuff and yet small enough to keep your monthly gasoline bill in check.
Yet there's nothing that truly sets the Rogue apart from its competition. Well, maybe the combination of a CVT and a four-cylinder engine is meant to give the Rogue a unique ability to deliver both power and fuel economy, but we still continue to find a CVT a distracting device when it has only the power of a four-cylinder engine with which to work.
We just don't think it's a rogue, a rebel, an upstart. At this point, the Rogue is really more of a ferret, or a badger. Sure, it's kind of a novelty, but it takes more than that to get buyers to look past the standard-bearers in this class, the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
Vehicle Testing Assistant Mike Magrath says:
Oil and water. Shaq and Kobe. Mustang and Camaro drivers. Things that don't get along but are forced to do so, often with mixed results. Add to this list the Nissan Rogue's 2.5-liter four-cylinder and its CVT, a combination so mismatched it deserves its own sitcom.
Optional on our test car, however, were the sport-shift paddles that proved invaluable. Do you have a hill on your daily commute? Have you ever felt the need to pass slower-moving traffic? Does velocity on your local highway vary with traffic/corners/speed limits? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions prepare to become acquainted with the shift paddles. Use them early and often. When you're in a hurry, they're the only way to get the engine and CVT on the same page.
The Rogue does so many things well — interior functionality and materials; ride quality; totally bitchin' sound system — that the transmission's inconsistencies really compromise the overall impression it makes.
Nissan comes to the compact sport-ute scene a dozen years after the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, and instead of being the fashionably late, dressed-to-kill life of the party, the Rogue sneaks in the back door and simply blends into the crowd.
2008 Nissan Rogue
Overall Grade: A
|Optional Equipment:||Part of the Premium Package|
|Price if optional:||N/A|
|CD Player:||Six-disc changer|
|Bluetooth for phone:||Yes, part of the Premium Package|
How does it sound: A
This optional Bose stereo sounds very good and is easily the best among compact SUVs. Bass is deep and somewhat rich, although we'd like a little more punch given that a subwoofer is part of the package.
Highs add nice detail and only distort slightly at higher volumes. The positioning of the three front speakers is just about perfect, as the front soundstage has both depth and presence. There's no midrange adjustment, something we expect in a premium sound system. It doesn't seem to matter much, as vocals and other midrange tones sound great; clear, detailed vocal reproduction is what this system does best. From the gruff Kurt Cobain to the lilting Julieta Venegas, the vocals have a texture that makes it fun to listen to all types of music. Acoustic guitar also sounds very nice.
How does it work: A
Simple and straightforward, the Nissan head unit has no surprises. Everything is where it should be; we especially like the CD-changer function that moves to a certain disc by simply pressing the corresponding button on the dash. All CD changers should work this way.
Redundant controls mounted on the steering wheel are also well placed for the most part. In a perfect world, the often-used volume control would move up to where the voice command button now resides. As it is, adjusting the volume feels like an unnatural move while driving.
Special features: The upgraded Bose audio system is an option, but it comes in a larger package. It's hard to know just the price of the stereo, as it comes with features like XM Satellite Radio, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, speed-sensitive volume control, transmission shift paddles, trip computer, outside temperature display, Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System, xenon headlights and Intelligent Key.
Conclusion: On paper, Nissan's Rogue doesn't offer any special features above and beyond what we'd expect from a compact SUV loaded with options. While its sound system doesn't really offer more features than the competition, it does have excellent sound quality. Judged on sound alone, the Rogue's Bose stereo is the best in its class. — Brian Moody, Road Test Editor
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Used 2008 Nissan Rogue Overview
The Used 2008 Nissan Rogue is offered in the following submodels: Rogue SUV. Available styles include S 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl CVT), S 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), SL 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl CVT), SL 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), S SULEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), SL SULEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), S SULEV 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl CVT), and SL SULEV 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl CVT). Pre-owned Nissan Rogue models are available with a 2.5 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 170 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2008 Nissan Rogue comes with front wheel drive, and all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: continuously variable-speed automatic. The Used 2008 Nissan Rogue comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2008 Nissan Rogue?
Price comparisons for Used 2008 Nissan Rogue trim styles:
- The Used 2008 Nissan Rogue SL is priced between $5,500 and$8,995 with odometer readings between 84644 and140653 miles.
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Should I lease or buy a 2008 Nissan Rogue?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.