2008 Nissan Rogue

There are vehicles that are easy to drive and there are vehicles that are fun to drive, but so many times we see these two concepts fail to come together in one particular model.

And then there is the Nissan Rogue.

Rogue is the newest nameplate from Nissan and is a basic, no-nonsense little crossover utility vehicle sized between the Versa hatch and the Murano CUV.

“With Rogue, we’ve targeted drivers in their early 30s, whose responsibilities and functional needs have changed but who don’t want to leave behind the person they’ve always been – someone who enjoys driving, who values style and design, and who wants to retain his or her individuality,” said Bill Bosley, vice president and general manager, Nissan Division. “The Rogue name was chosen to reflect its independence-oriented positioning, though we certainly believe that all buyers, regardless of age or life stage, will positively respond to Rogue’s fun-to-drive, all-climate performance and aggressive styling.”

We recently unloaded quite a bit of backroads on our Rogue tester as we explored the Munson wine trails, located between the Metroplex and the Red River.

As with most vehicles in the Nissan fleet today, Rogue features a small, peppy engine backed by the Xtronic CVT continuously variable transmission. The great thing about these new CVT gearboxes is that they constantly have you and the vehicle operating in an ideal gear ratio for the demand, delivering the perfect balance of performance and fuel economy.

All Rogues are powered by the 2.5-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine producing 170hp and 175 lb. ft. of torque and can be ordered in front- or all-wheel-drive. Ours was the former.

Despite being the new “entry” crossover in the Nissan lineup, the Rogue delivers quite a bit of content including electric power rack and pinion steering, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, front and rear stabilizer bars and independent front and rear suspensions, all riding on 16-inch wheels and tires.

The Rogue also includes a full complement of airbags (including side impact and head curtain) and front seat active head restraints – all standard. Also provided on every Rogue model is vehicle dynamic control, traction control and tire pressure monitoring system.

The Nissan Rogue will seat up to five (four adults in comfort) and rides like a champ on the road thanks to its car-like underpinnings. Even the washboard-like dirt roads were no problem for the little Nissan.

With the air conditioning running full blast we found the powertrain to be quite sufficient even when passing or entering a freeway.

I think the only two things we missed during our adventures in the Rogue were satellite radio (the Dallas-based stations began to fade in and out) and navigation system. Fortunately, we never got too lost, and the reason that I never stopped to ask directions had more to do with the fact that there was no one to ask than the fact that, well, we just don’t stop and ask for directions.

Our $19,250 2008 Nissan Rogue tester came to a final sticker price of $20,175 thanks to floor and cargo mats and destination and delivery charges. EPA ratings are 22 mpg city and 27 mpg highway and we were able to get every bit of that even with the A/C running.

“As Nissan’s first entry into the crowded small crossover SUV field, Rogue needs to stand out, to be an overachiever,” said Bosley. “This philosophy not only applies to Rogue’s styling and performance, but also to its utility features, attention to quality and detail, and, of course, value. Rogue is the complete package.”

We concur.

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