Capitalizing on the success of its best-selling Rogue compact SUV, Nissan has introduced a new smaller version, the Rogue Sport. The Sport competes with the likes of the Honda HR-V, the Mazda CX-3 and the Subaru Crosstrek in the rapidly growing sub-compact crossover market.
The Rogue Sport is derived from an overseas SUV with the catchy name of Qashqai. Nissan modified the Qashqai to meet American standards, and presto, the Rogue Sport was born. The Sport replaces the quirky-looking Nissan Juke, which has been shelved. The Sport displays attractive, mainstream styling with enough curves in the sheetmetal to make it interesting.
The Sport is nicely finished on the inside too, with soft surfaces where you’re likely to touch, and high quality cloth on the seats. (Leather is also available.) Gauges and the center control panel are right out of the larger Rogue. Switches are clearly marked, but they could be mounted higher for easier access, and the navigation map on the touchscreen map could use better graphics.
The interior of the Sport is surprisingly spacious. There’s plenty of room up front, and the seats, borrowed from the bigger Rogue, are very supportive. Seating in the rear is good too, with sufficient head-and legroom for average-sized adults. The storage area behind the seats (23.9 cu-ft.) is one of the largest in its class. Furthermore, the cargo floor separates to create shelves and hidden spots.
Under the hood, Nissan equips the Sport with a 2.0-liter engine with a 141 horsepower. That’s an average amount for this class, but the ponies on the Sport are not that robust. Around town, the Sport performs well enough, but it labors in passing situations on the highway, and when climbing steep hills. Completing the power train is one of the least obtrusive continuously variable transmissions (CVT) in the business. This tranny simulates shifts, like in a conventional automatic, which eliminates the long moaning sounds heard in many other cars. Gas mileage averages 27-28 mpg, depending whether you have front-wheel- or all-wheel drive.
Nissan offers the Rogue Sport in three levels of trim, S, SV and SL. The base S has the usual power accessories to operate windows, locks and mirrors, plus Bluetooth, satellite radio and a rearview camera. Move up to the SV and you’ll also get a power driver’s seat, six-speaker audio, and push-button entry and start. SL adds luxury items, like heated seats, leather upholstery and a navigation system.
Active safety features such as blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert are available in the optional Premium package for the SV. However, you will have to move up to the SL and order the Platinum package to get adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and braking, as well as lane departure monitoring and mitigation. Look for wider availability of these features on 2018 models.
Notwithstanding its power issues, the Rogue Sport performs very well out on the road. It has good balance, and feels sure-footed negotiating corners. It also delivers a well-controlled, comfortable ride. The suspension absorbs bumps in the road nicely, and while the ride is slightly firm, like a European car, there is no harshness. Moreover, the cabin is admirably quiet at freeway speeds.
Nissan prices the Sport competitively with other SUVs in its class. The base S starts at $22,480. The SV begins at $23,980 and the more luxurious SL goes for $27,030. My SV test car, with all-wheel drive, Premium and all-weather packages, plus carpeted floor mats, had a suggested price of $27,900.