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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
“a bit raspy at high revs”
“the CVT can get maddening on the freeway”
CVT is “one of the best we've driven”
“well under control”
Kelley Blue Book
“vague electric steering”
Car reviewers across the Web differed on the 2008 Nissan Rogue’s performance—and their opinions largely were tied to its unorthodox transmission.
All Rogues come outfitted with a single engine/transmission combination. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine puts out 170 horsepower, and Consumer Reports says the engine “gets a bit raspy at high revs.” Edmunds tested the Rogue with the optional all-wheel-drive system and “accelerated to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds, which is on par with other four-cylinder-powered compact crossovers.” Cars.com feels that the Rogue’s four-cylinder “outdoes both the [Honda] CR-V and four-cylinder [Toyota] RAV4 in terms of horsepower, and you'll feel it when you stomp on the accelerator.” There is no V-6 option, though, unlike the Toyota RAV4.
The Rogue gets power to the wheels through a continuously variable transmission, a unique setup that uses a belt and pulleys to create a transmission with no fixed gears and an infinite amount of gear ratios. These CVTs can get better fuel economy, but they can also force an engine to turn at its operating peak—which often can be its noise peak, too. The transmission can feel rubbery and lack quick responses, which Edmunds notes in the Rogue: “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.” However, Automobile calls the Rogue’s CVT “one of the best we've driven,” and Cars.com points out that shift paddles allow drivers to choose one of six CVT positions that simulate a six-speed automatic. They found this feature “extremely beneficial.” Car and Driver says the Rogue “keeps the noise to a murmur.”
Fuel economy is rated at 21/26 mpg (city/highway) for the all-wheel-drive Rogue; front-wheel-drive models get 22/27 mpg (city/highway). No hybrid version is planned.
The 2008 Nissan Rogue sports other unconventional technology. Electric power steering replaces the more traditional hydraulic-assisted steering, and Automobile said it’s “commendably conventional-feeling, with just-right efforts.” Edmunds thought it was “vague,” but appreciated the Rogue’s “all-independent long-travel suspension that smoothly gobbles up road imperfections.” Cars.com felt the “suspension provided a soft ride, which many 'sporty' SUVs abandon for a firmer one,” while Kelley Blue Book said, “the suspension kept body roll well under control.” However, Consumer Guide noted that “washboard freeway surfaces can bring about annoying pitching and bobbing.”
TheCarConnection.com’s experience in the 2008 Nissan Rogue found the engine to be willing enough; with the available paddle shifters, though, it lacks the snick-snick pleasure of shifting and no immediate feel. The Rogue's steering is noticeably sharper and more accurate than in the Nissan Sentra, for example, but it's still not as progressive as hydraulic units. The right-sized Rogue does handle better than most small crossovers, with good damping and an easy, comfortable feel no matter the road surface. And despite its tall form and available 17-inch wheels, the Rogue lets in less road noise than might be expected.
The 2008 Nissan Rogue’s drivetrain is unusual and uninspiring, but handling is a little better than the class average.