2008 Nissan Rogue – 4-Cylinder Wimp-Roader?
Nissan’s introduction of its 2008 Rogue Crossover SUV at the North American International Auto Show launches a Nissan competitor to the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester and Mitsubishi Outlander. Rogue’s styling, while “pleasant”, is too milquetoast for even a small Crossover SUV in the first decade of the 21st Century.
VehicleVoice and AutoPacific staffers were given a download on Rogue at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, but couldn’t really report on it until now. The Rogue is clearly derived from the European Nissan Quashqai.
Rogue’s Styling Does Not Communicate Tough, Rugged Bad-Boy. It’s a Chick’s SUV
With Toyota, Honda and Mitsubishi adopting much stronger design themes for their small SUVs, Nissan launches a smoothly tailored wagon designed to be inoffensive to anybody. There is nothing intimidating or in-your-face about the Rogue. In fact the most intimidating aspect may be its name.
Nissan perceives that Rogue will communicate a “bad-boy” image that will appeal to young males, but we see only a girly SUV… nothing macho about its looks. So, Rogue will go the way of the many other soft-roaders and be bought by women of all ages. Rogue certainly is not a Crossover Xterra. It looks like a wimp-roader.
Crossover SUVs outsold traditional SUVs for the first time in 2006. Nissan has been behind the curve in getting into the Crossover SUV business relying instead on its traditional entries – Xterra, Pathfinder, Armada. The closest Crossover SUV in Nissan’s stable is the Murano (a winner of AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award) and the Infiniti FX (no, the Murano and FX are not similar – Murano is based on a front wheel drive car platform – FX is based on a rear wheel drive platform). So, Rogue gives the Nissan brand something below Murano to compete with the smaller Crossover SUVs.
Rogue 4-Cylinder-Only – More Competition Offering V6s
Rogue is based on the same platform as the new Nissan Sentra – the “Global C” architecture developed jointly by Nissan and Renault. it will be powered by a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine, rated at 170HP and 175 pound-feet of torque, and mated to Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) that is being used in new Nissans from Versa through Altima and Maxima. As you’d expect in a Crossover SUV, all wheel drive will be available.
Rogue – Does Not Live Up to its Name
So, where do we come out on Rogue? Rogue has hit a target now abandoned by Toyota and Honda. Toyota’s RAV4 has moved upwards and now offers an optional V6. Honda’s CR-V has grown up and looks more substantial than ever before. Mitsubishi’s Outlander has a 3.0L V6 as standard and has arguably the strongest stying in the group.
Murano is a nice success for Nissan. Rogue will sell at reasonable volumes expected from Nissan’s dealer network. But we can’t help but think that Rogue does not live up to its name.