Nissan Rogue Performance
Most test drivers are pleased with the 2008 Nissan Rogue's overall performance, and it falls near the top of its class in this category despite the fact that some dislike its gearless transmission or find its four-cylinder engine lacking. "Highway cruising is where the Rogue and its transmission work best," says Car and Driver. "Secure on-center steering feel, a firm but compliant ride, and a quiet cabin combine to effortlessly count down highway miles."
Cars.com pays the Rogue a high compliment, calling it "probably the best all-around performer in the four-cylinder class."
Acceleration and Power
The Rogue comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. Almost every review says it's surprisingly powerful. Cars.com says, "The engine certainly has enough power to live up to the sporty image the company is aiming for, and under hard acceleration it comes to life with a healthy roar that's not the norm in a four-cylinder-powered cute-ute." Motor Trend notes the engine outdoes competitor Honda CR-V because it "spurred our 3350-pound front-drive SL from 0 to 60 in 8.2 seconds and through the quarter mile in 16.4 at 85.5 mph. For comparison, a four-wheel-drive CR-V, which weighs an extra 200 pounds, takes 9.9 ticks to 60 and 17.5 at 78.5 for the quarter."
The engine's only detractors note that it lacks power in specific situations. Consumer Guide finds it "slow to build power needed for highway passing or hill climbs." Similarly, the comments that the Rogue "isn't a barn burner. It's not that the 2.5 sputters down the merger ramp. It's just that the 4 is being asked to put more than 3,400 pounds in motion and that takes some effort." Others, including About.com, make note that no V6 engine is offered: "Both the Toyota RAV4 and the Ford Escape offer V-6s in addition to their four cylinders. We wouldn't complain if Nissan gave it more power, as we had to floor it to climb through some of the elevated turns in the mountains."
On the plus side, BusinessWeek notes that the Rogue has good fuel economy. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the front-wheel-drive Rogue is expected to net 22 miles per gallon in the city and 27 on the highway. The all-wheel-drive version should get 21/26 city/highway.
The engine is paired with an Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The transmission is gearless, meaning it doesn't actually shift, but creates the sensation of shifting for the driver. While this type of transmission usually gets negative reviews, the CVT in the Rogue gets some praise. Automobile Magazine says, "Nissan embraces this technology more so than any other automaker, and the example in the Rogue is one of the best we've driven -- you could almost forget it's not a conventional gearbox." BusinessWeek describes the transmission as "silky smooth" and Car and Driver says the "wide spread of gear ratios and the smooth power delivery do seem to be a better idea than the four- or five-speed conventional automatics of the competition."
Some reviewers dislike the CVT, however. "Crabby," is how Consumer Guide describes the CVT, saying it's "noisy and unwillingly to furnish timely downshifts." The Car Connection explains, "The problems with the Rogue CVT are common to all of these transmissions. They seem to create more engine noise since, by design, they aim for the most efficient power point in the rev range; and they feel unresponsive and dull as they slide through an infinite set of ratios."
The transmission comes with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual shifting. Motor Trend appreciates this feature, noting "the paddles work efficiently, firing off rapid ratio changes not that dissimilar in quickness or smoothness from the shifts with a dual-clutch manual gearbox like VW's DSG." Popular Mechanics adds, "Flick the paddle shifters, and the vehicle shifts are quick and smooth."
Handling and Braking
Reviews are somewhat mixed on the Rogue's handling. Most find the suspension provides a stable and carlike ride. The Car Connection says the Rogue "handles better than most small crossovers we've driven," and adds that the SUV has "an easy, comfortable feel no matter the road surface." However, other reviewers criticize the Rogue for a too-stiff ride. Consumer Guide says "large bumps and grooved surfaces are not well absorbed," and Automobile Magazine reports "sharp kicks over bumps."
The Rogue's variable speed-sensitive electric steering is generally liked. Consumer Guide describes it as tight and responsive, while The Car Connection finds it adequate: "The Rogue's steering is noticeably sharper and more accurate than in the Sentra, for example, but it's still not as progressive as hydraulic units." BusinessWeek finds steering "intuitive and reactive to driving conditions."
The Rogue features four-wheel vented disc anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist. Consumer Guide says, "Brakes provide good stopping power but pedal feels spongy at first." MSN offers a more positive view, noting that the "brake pedal yields a progressive response, slowing the Rogue just as the driver expects."
The Rogue comes standard in front-wheel drive, but Intuitive All-Wheel Drive (AWD) is available. The Car Connection calls the AWD "a savvy system that splits power equally front to rear as it's accelerating from a stop." Likewise, About.com says it's a feature "we give credit for." The system uses sensors to judge when it should add or decrease power to the rear wheels. Buyers should note that the Rogue is by no means an off-road vehicle. "If you need rugged, off-road capability, get an Xterra," advises the .