Test Drive: Rogue Sport exceeds expectations

We didn’t expect much from Nissan’s newest compact crossover, the Rogue Sport. We’ve developed a fairly strong preference for midsize crossovers like the Chevrolet Equinox, Mazda Equinox and Nissan Murano, over compacts and subcompacts.

Thus, we were pleasantly surprised by our 2017 Rogue Sport SL … though not everyone who saw it was enamored of its Nitro Lime skin. The Sport, like the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, is smaller than its namesake. It seemed to handle more crisply than the Rogue SL, yet was not appreciably less roomy.
The addition of the Rogue Sport gives Nissan no fewer than six crossovers and SUVs: the funky little Juke, the two Rogues, the Murano, Pathfinder and Armada — plus two pickup trucks, the midsize Frontier and full-sized Titan. Nissan’s record-breaking 2017 U.S. sales figures validate the wisdom of this approach: Nissan sold about 74,000 SUVs and pickup trucks last year, compared with about 48,000 cars.

Our upscale Rogue Sport had a base price of $26,070 and a sticker price of $30,030. It was loaded with luxury and tech features, including power driver’s seat, heated front seats, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated steering wheel, Around View monitor with moving-object detection, navigation system with voice guidance, satellite radio, and remote start. Option packages added about $4,000 to the sticker price. Among the add-on features were power sliding moonroof, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and lane-departure warning with lane-departure assist.
The Rogue Sport had front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available.
For 2018, the base Rogue Sport S starts at $21,640. Like our well-equipped test car, it comes with a 141-horsepower inline 4-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission, and delivers 25 mpg city, 32 highway. In real-world driving around western Connecticut, often in mileage-sapping cold, we were able to average 29 mpg in mixed driving.

Crash-test data are not yet available. Partial results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are encouraging, however, with the Rogue Sport scoring the top “Good” rating in every test completed.
Competition in this sector is stiff. The Rogue Sport, Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V, Toyota CH-R, Buick Encore, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-3 and Subaru Crosstrek. Also challenging the Rogue Sport are Nissan’s own Juke and Rogue.

We had few complaints about our test car. Leg room, though tight, was acceptable for our 6-foot driver, even during the hour-plus drive from Bethel, to Nanuet, N.Y., on a freezing January Saturday. We noted a few quirks, including the awkward placement of the seat heaters (between the seats, set far back), and the suspension’s reaction to some expansion joints was jarring. Our test car had the 19-inch alloy wheels; the standard 16- to 17-inch wheels might mitigate this tendency. On the plus side, performance was fairly invigorating, despite the car’s modest horsepower endowment and the limitations of its CVT gearbox.

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport SL

Price: $30,030

Engine: 2.0-liter inline Four, 141 horsepower, 147 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: continuously variable

Drive: front-wheel

Ground clearance: 7.4 in.

Weight: 3,300 lb.

Suspension: MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear

Wheels: 19×7-in. aluminum alloy

Tires: P225/45R19 all-season

Max. towing capacity: 1,000 lb.

Seating capacity: 5

Luggage capacity: 19.9 cu. ft.

Maximum cargo capacity: 53.3 cu. ft.

Fuel capacity: 14.5 gal.

Fuel economy: 25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway

Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline

Steven Macoy (semacoy@gmail.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.