2017 Nissan Rogue Sport First Drive | Edmunds

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport First Drive

A Smaller Version of Nissan's Most Popular Crossover

In 2016, the Nissan Rogue crossover surpassed the Altima sedan to become Nissan's top-selling model. In order to capitalize on the growing demand for crossovers, Nissan is adding a more compact version of the Rogue to its lineup: the 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport. The Rogue Sport is new to the United States, but it has been sold in Europe and elsewhere around the world as the Qashqai. Nissan is betting that the time is finally right to add a smaller yet functional utility vehicle to its lineup.

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport

How Does It Measure Up?
From bumper to bumper, this new Rogue Sport is 12 inches shorter than the standard Rogue. The Sport is also 6 inches shorter in height and rides on a 2.3-inch-shorter wheelbase. The Rogue Sport still seats five passengers, but there's no optional third row. It's a few inches larger than some of the other vehicles in the class, so the Rogue Sport does offer quite a bit of usable cargo space for its size. With the rear seats folded, the Rogue Sport offers 61.1 cubic feet of cargo space compared to the Honda HR-V's 58.5 cubes and the Mazda CX-3's 44.5 cubic feet.

There's only one engine available in the Rogue Sport, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 141 horsepower and 147 pound-feet of torque. It sends power to the front wheels (all-wheel drive is optional) through a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). While CVTs operate mostly like standard automatic transmissions, this one drones on quite a bit, especially when you put your foot down to get up to speed on the freeway. No matter how flat your foot is, the Rogue Sport isn't particularly exciting in a straight line. But when you find some corners, this Rogue Sport feels more tuned for driver enjoyment, which makes it less cumbersome than its big brother.

Thanks to stiffer spring rates than the European Qashqai's and wider tires than the standard Rogue's (at least in SL trim), the Rogue Sport handles corners well, although the steering isn't as direct we would like. There is, however, good on-center feel and even an adjustable setting that allows for some additional weight in the steering. This shrunken family crossover isn't a car that promises exceptional handling, but it does inspire more confidence around corners than many other crossovers in this segment.

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport

It's Different from the Rogue in More Ways than One
Base price for the Rogue Sport is $21,420, with the top-of-the-line SL model coming in at $27,420. Those prices are $2,400 and $3,890 less, respectively, than their trim-level counterparts on the standard Rogue. So what do you lose, aside from space?

For starters, a bit of comfort. One of our favorite things about the standard Rogue is its smooth ride. It can rack up the miles on a variety of roads without disturbing the passengers thanks to a soft suspension and plenty of sidewall in the tires. The Rogue Sport isn't quite as comfortable, at least with the 19-inch wheels and tires that come on the top-of-the-line SL trim. Even minor road imperfections creep into the cabin, but the Rogue Sport does have excellent seats, which help make up for the firmer ride.

There are also a few missing creature comforts when you downsize to the Rogue Sport. For instance, you have to get the top-of-the-line SL trim to get heated seats and foglights; plus the Rogue's optional nine-speaker stereo system isn't available on any version of the Rogue Sport. For price-conscious consumers, though, there's not much missing here.

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport

Not the Fuel Sipper You Might Expect
One area where you would expect a small vehicle such as the Rogue Sport to do well is fuel economy. Unfortunately, it not only falls behind the class leaders, it's actually less efficient than the bigger, more powerful Rogue. The EPA fuel economy rating for the standard Rogue with front-wheel drive is 29 mpg combined (26 city/33 highway). The Rogue Sport, however, is rated at 28 mpg combined (25 city/32 highway). With the all-wheel-drive versions of both cars, the story is similar.

To put that into perspective, two of the Rogue Sport's top rivals, the Honda HR-V and the Mazda CX-3, offer an EPA-estimated 31 mpg combined. It's also worth noting that both the Honda and Mazda are priced lower than the Rogue Sport at base trim levels, which means the Rogue Sport isn't exactly the bargain buy of the bunch. For safety features, however, the Rogue Sport is definitely a class leader. It offers a 360-degree camera — exceedingly rare in this segment — as well as adaptive cruise control and forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking.

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport

Relative to its competitors, the 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport is an average compact crossover with some above-average features. It's especially compelling when it comes to safety equipment and technology. It also has a spacious cabin, and on the right roads it can feel pretty lively. Unfortunately, it falls victim to some of the pitfalls that are common among subcompact crossovers, including an underpowered engine and less than impressive mileage numbers. It does offer solid utility at an attainable price, and we even like the way it looks more so than the standard Rogue. If you're in the market for a small crossover that doesn't feel small on the inside, the Rogue Sport is worth a drive.

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