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.
Mitsubishi has an all-new compact SUV for its 2007 lineup. Though it carries the Outlander name, there is little that the second Outlander shares with the first, other than the Lancer platform. This time, though, Outlander is the launch product for Mitsubishi’s all-new C-segment platform. The result is a more grown-up and sophisticated compact SUV. The first generation did not fare well in the marketplace, selling only 75,000 units between late 2002 and 2005, the new version has more to offer in all areas.
Sales begin in the United States in November 2006, and AutoPacific
were invited to be among the early drivers. Using the Hotel Vitale
in San Francisco as a home base, Mitsubishi plotted out an entertaining drive route that took us across the Golden Gate Bridge to Highway 1 and up to Bogeda Bay.
Finally, a Competitive Package
Styling has grown up; there is a modern silhouette, better overall proportions, and more attractive styling. The first Outlander looked like a short-but-tall wagon with big bumpers (click here
for images). The old underwhelming 160HP 2.4L I4 is replaced by a 220HP 3.0L V6 and six-speed automatic (magnesium paddle shifters are optional). There is an improved interior with thoughtful storage and convenience touches and optional jump seats give room for seven in a pinch.
For the 2007MY, there are several new or updated compact SUVs, including the Jeep Compass
(click for VehicleVoice Compass review
), Jeep Patriot
CR-V, and Suzuki SX4
. Against these products, and solid entries like the Hyundai Tucson
and Kia Sportage
, the Outlander brings more power, more size, and more features. The new Outlander can better justify having one of the highest MSRPs of the available Compact SUVs.
November Sales for Updated Outlander
Mitsubishi is celebrating twenty-five years in the States, as well as giving its lineup a boost for the 2007 model year. The first-generation Mitsubishi Outlander was introduced for the 2003 model year, but its lack of a third row and V6 engine is being addressed for the 2007 model year. The all-new Outlander was unveiled to the North American public at the 2006 New York auto show, though it has been on sale in Japan for several months. VehicleVoice and AutoPacific correspondents were at the show to take a first look. The new Outlander has a grown-up look compared with the first version. With the 2007MY, Outlander takes a less-chunky look with better integrated bumpers and a cleaner, more purposeful front end.
Mitsubishi’s second take on a small, car-based SUV should be more competitive in the States and help to reverse the sales crash experienced by the first Outlander. Its best sales year was 2003, when just over 34,000 units were sold. By 2005, however, sales had fallen below 12,000 units. Mitsubishi needs this new Outlander to be more successful, and to be able to maintain its success, and therefore Outlander needed its improved looks, extra seats, and updated powertrain.