Monday, November 13, 2017

IN THE DRIVEWAY: 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport

Probably the easiest way to understand the new Nissan Rogue Sport is to think of it basically as the Rogue Lite. The Rogue Sport, joining the Nissan SUV lineup for 2017, is basically a slightly smaller, more affordable version of the compact Rogue. It offers many of the same features of the Rogue but it lacks the available third-row seat and gives up some cargo space. This new size version of the Rogue makes it compete against other new-comers like the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR, and Mazda CX-3.

Much like the Rogue, the Rogue Sport displays a smooth, sporty exterior similar to the larger Murano. The Rogue Sport, which is about a foot shorter than the Rogue, isn't the smallest SUV in Nissan's lineup - that honor goes to the Juke, but the Rogue Sport isn't far behind it.

Just because the Rogue Sport is a smaller version of a larger vehicle, that doesn't mean it's short on features. Some available options include adaptive cruise control with forward collision mitigation, remote ignition and even a heated steering wheel.

Enter the Rogue Sport and find yourself in a cockpit-oriented cabin. The instruments are cleanly done and I am pleased to see that the dash and console uses soft padded surfaces as opposed to cheap Rubbermaid plastics. Ergonomics throughout the cabin are nicely done and all controls are easy to use - no need for an owner's manual here.

When it comes to comfort, the Rogue Sport offers some of the best front seats in the business, featuring excellent support and plenty of room. Unfortunately back seat room has shrunk and the Rogue Sport loses the Rogues sliding and reclining rear seat features. Thankfully there are still AC and heat vents back there.

All Rogue Sports come standard with a 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine that makes 141 horsepower as opposed to the Rogues 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine that makes 170 hp. But just like in the larger Rogue, the Sport uses a CVT transmission.

Driving in urban traffic, the Sport feels totally capable. 141 ponies isn't much power these days, but there is just enough when needed, but not enough to get you in trouble. While I'm still not a big fan of CVT transmissions, I will say that the Nissan has improved them tremendously, and they feel less weird - thanks to the simulated gear shifts. The ride in the Rogue Sport is nicely due in part to a multilink-independent rear suspension that keeps the vehicle level and allows it to handle well.

With the Rogue being Nissan's number one selling vehicle, it makes sense to base a smaller-vehicle on it, even using it's name.  And following in it's big brother's footsteps, the Rogue Sport is sure to be a similar success

Pricing for the Rogue Sport starts at $21,500.