As its name implies, the Nissan Rogue stands apart. This brand-new car-based cute 'ute is one of the smallest contestants--giving up 2400 pounds to the Toyota Land Cruiser and 19 inches in length to the Buick Enclave.

The Rogue is fun to drive--garnering much praise for its game paddle-shiftable CVT. More than one editor took note of the Rogue's tossability and small-car driving dynamics on the canyon twisties.

Our fully loaded SL AWD Rogue did show its off-road cred by scampering over some light trails with ease. Credit its lockable AWD system and light (for this group) 3500-pound curb weight.

Not surprising, given its small size, the Rogue is a bit tight in the back seat, though it does score high marks for its front- and rear-seat comfort. Interior styling was less well received, but it's still miles ahead of a vehicle like the Patriot.

So with handsome, Murano-esque styling, a kickin' stereo, and cool features like a pop-up grocery-bag holder, what's not to love? In its rookie year, the Rogue makes a strong case, but just doesn't separate itself enough from veteran heavyweights like Honda's CR-V and Toyota's RAV4.

2008 Nissan Rogue
Base price range $19,000-$23,000 (est)
Price as tested $26,000 (est) (SL AWD)
Vehicle layout Front engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 2.5L/170-hp/175-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
Transmission Cont. variable auto
Curb weight (f/r dist) 3529 lb (59/41%)
Wheelbase 105.9 in
Length x width x height 182.9 x 70.9 x 65.3 in
0-60 mph 8.9 sec
Quarter mile 16.8 sec @ 84.2 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 131 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.76 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 28.8 sec @ 0.56 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 21/26 mpg
CO2 emissions 0.84 lb/mile
Engineering ***
Design ***
Interior/Functionality ***
Performance ***
On-Road Refinement ****
Off-Road Ability ***
Value ***
Bottom Line More carlike than SUV. Fun to drive, too. Simply doesn't make enough of a statement.