2008 Nissan Rogue SL
2008 Nissan Rogue SL. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site

Nissan Canada

Review and photos by Michael Clark

Photo Gallery:
2008 Nissan Rogue

I suppose you could say that Nissan is finally getting its redux in a row.

Now before you call the Groan Police, one has to remember that the previous X-Trail that landed on these shores back in ’04 had actually been carving Japanese back roads since the beginning of the current Millennium. Practical as it was, the styling had all the love of an Isuzu Trooper (trust me; the model year doesn’t matter). What does matter is that the compact sport ‘ute market is one of the hottest segments for Joe and Jane Leasepayment, and the only option is to get it right the first time.

2008 Nissan Rogue SL
2008 Nissan Rogue SL
2008 Nissan Rogue SL
Steering wheel (top), centre stack and centre console bin. Click image to enlarge

The SL AWD Leather Package tester graces the IS pages this week, with an as-equipped MSRP of $34,323, plus freight. (Pricing does not reflect rebates or regional incentives.)

The Cockpit

Close your eyes, and feel the purpose-driven three-spoke wheel of the Rogue, which abounds throughout the Nissan product line. Audio and cruise control tabs are sensibly placed, as are the robust shift paddles, for spirited use of the Rogue’s standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). The floor shifter also includes a manu-gate. The column receives manual tilt positioning, with no concerns evident for telescoping action.

The wiper stalk controls intermittent sweep for front and rear wipers. The gauge pod is an easy read, with outside temperature display, and fuel economy functions. The driver’s door receives an auto up/down window lift, while heated exterior breakaway mirrors are controlled low and away from the driver’s sight line, on the left-hand side of the dashboard. The parking brake is controlled by a floor-mount pedal arrangement, with no pants-snag issues.

The Centre Stack

It appears that ‘SL’ isn’t as ‘Simply Loaded’ as first thought. The HVAC system misses out on an expected auto climate control, though it is simple to operate. A 12-volt powerpoint is found below the HVAC, while the audio system head unit sports an auxiliary jack for MP3-style players.


Kudos to Rogue, for being one of the few manufacturers to provide a designated parking spot for the owner’s manual, in a recess of the glovebox door. The interior of the compartment is ample, with a removable divider. The only thing that would make it perfect would be a cooling feed vent from the HVAC. The front door pockets are quite small, with no bottle holder provisions. The rear doors are without cubby.

The centre console gets an organizer underbelly lid, for pens and cards. A removable bin reveals a sizable hidden compartment, with a second 12-volt powerpoint. What also needs to be in this hidden compartment is the auxiliary audio jack, since there really isn’t any place to stow your iPod topside. The primary cupholder has two cup heights, with the front holder using a single spring-loaded cinch tab.

2008 Nissan Rogue SL
2008 Nissan Rogue SL
Sunroof (top) and power seat controls. Click image to enlarge

The insert is removable, which can happen when attempting to remove certain beverage containers, if the cinch tab gets the right dig. The rear cupholder is a floor-mount, with extremely light cinch for the C-shaped cinchers.

Both rear seatbacks get storage pockets, as well as a handy flip-down bag hook on the passenger side.

The Overhead

The Leather Package includes an auto-dimming rearview mirror, with compass and Homelink transmitter. The sunglasses holder is lined, and of good size. Ventilation gets in quickly, thanks to auto open/close. The roof rails show evidence of future cross-rail additions, with a collapsible antenna to accommodate the cargo. Visors sport dual backlit vanity mirrors.

Seat treat

It’s all about the driver for the Rogue’s seating appointments, with six-way power articulation, as well as power lumbar bladder. Front seats receive two-step heat control, while rear passenger comfort is enhanced by the appearance of adjustable seat belt anchors.

2008 Nissan Rogue SL
Cargo area. Click image to enlarge

The rear seat centre seat belt uses a ceiling-mount shoulder harness, which can be disconnected for cargo.

Cargo embargo

The Rogue possesses a unique cargo cavern, certainly the recommended daily allowance for most Battles of the Stuff. A spring-loaded floor release reveals a cargo organizer, with removable webbing. There are four tie-down points, with two wall-mount bag hooks. The second row seatbacks fold anything but flat. The cargo cover is spring-loaded for easy removal.

Spare care

There have been some good attempts here to allow access to the temporary spare. The forward portion of the floor gets a removable tether to hold it aloft. However, the cargo organizer biscuit at the rear is somewhat cumbersome to remove.

2008 Nissan Rogue SL
2008 Nissan Rogue SL
Spare tire (top); 2.5-litre engine. Click image to enlarge

Make it Nissan’s problem, with three years of roadside assistance.

The mill

The Rogue’s 2.5-litre, 170 horsepower four is a sensible fit, with good access to major service components. Fluid levels are easily checked, with no fill-point issues. Even the headlamp bulbs are accessible to the Saturday driveway service tech.

The Verdict

The Rogue is light years ahead of the X-Trail in styling, while still managing to continue the practical magic that made the X so appealing to those who like their ‘ute cute. There is so little missing here, and the improvements needed might take two late nights in R & D. Five stars. Five and a half if Nissan puts in the cool box.

Next week: Acura RL

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