In the niche market of subcompact crossovers, Nissan now has two entries. The first is the quirky, car-like Juke, which is intentionally designed to appeal to young urbanites. The second is the new Rogue Sport, which, as the name suggest, looks like a smaller version of the company's Rogue, today's best selling compact crossover. Which is to say, it's more conventional in a good way.
Using the name Sport to designate a smaller version of another vehicle isn't new. Hyundai does it with the Santa Fe Sport and Mitsubishi does it with the Outlander Sport. And because small vehicles tend to be more fun to drive than large ones, it's fair to say the Sport term also means sportier.
That's especially true with the Rogue Sport, which we found especially fun to drive in town. Although the 141 horsepower produced by it sole 2.0-liter inline four cylinder engine doesn't sound like much, the standard Continuously Variable Transmission is programmed to take good advantage of it. Our test model was relatively quick off the line and able to switch lanes into open spots in traffic easily, thanks to its well sprung suspension and precise steering.
Our SV model came with front wheel drive, not the optional all-wheel-drive system that we recommend for the wet Pacific Northwest, however. The additional weight of the AWD components might slow such versions down a little. But the basic platform seemed good enough that we doubt the overall performance would be changed much.
In truth, the Rogue Sport is larger in all dimensions than the Juke and some of the other subcompact crossovers. This gives is more interior room that a number of its direct competitors. Nissan engineers took advantage of the additional room to make the front bucket seats a little wider and create a little more head and leg room for back seat passengers. Cargo space is also impressive for such a small vehicle, especially with the back seat folded down.
Buyers get a lot for their money with the Rogue Sport. The base S model start at $22,380 and includes a 7.0-inch color touch-screen, cruise control, a backup camera, rear HVAC vents, Bluetooth, and a USB port. Mid-level SV versions start at $23,980 and add 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights, proximity entry, and a power driver's seat. Top-of-the-line SL add all the active-safety features. All-wheel-drive adds $1,350 to the price.
The new Nissan Sport competes against two compactr crossovers that have gotten a lot of automotive press attention — the Mazda CX-3 because of that company's reputation for drivability and the Honda HR-V because, well, because it's a Honda. But we think the Nissan Sport is a serious alternative to either of them that deserves to be considered by anyone looking for a compact crossover these days, especially one with just a little more room.
2017 Nissan Rogue Sport
Base price: $22,380
Price as tested: $26,410
Type: Subcompact crosssover
Engine: 2.0-liter inline 4 (141 hp, 147 lb-ft)
Transmission: Continuosly Variable
EPA estimated mileage: 27/28 (AWD)/25/32 (FWD)
Overall length: 172.4 inches
Curb weight: 3350-3450 pounds
Final assembly: Los Angeles, California