Nissan Hi-Cross Concept at the 2012 Geneva International Motor Show

  • Looks like: Nissan is going mean and lean for its next compact crossover
  • Defining characteristics: Third-row seating, compact design, new hybrid technology
  • Ridiculous features: 3-D displays, but they’re low-hanging fruit for the chopping block
  • Chances of being mass-produced: We’re probably looking at the next Nissan Rogue

The current Nissan Rouge is getting long in the tooth. Although it received a mild refresh for the 2011 model year, the model sold today is nearly the same as the one on sale in 2007. Nissan's recently unveiled Hi-Cross Concept gives us a taste of what to expect from the Japanese carmaker's next-generation compact crossover.

The Hi-Cross Concept is a seven-passenger compact crossover, featuring Nissan's first in-house-engineered front-wheel-drive hybrid system. The concept features two four-cylinder engines: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder (powering the current Rouge) and a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine coupled to a hybrid system. The hybrid system features lithium-ion batteries developed from Nissan's Leaf technology, according to the automaker. It also uses a new generation of the continuously variable automatic transmission that Nissan says will improve fuel economy by about 10% over its current CVT.

Overall looks show a high-waisted design with slanted, vertical headlights and trapezoidal taillights. Like the Murano and Nissan's Infiniti FX crossover, the Hi-Cross has exaggerated wheel fenders that help define the front end with prominent styling lines along the hood and grille. It kind of gives us a Saab-vibe up front; it's a good thing the Swedish carmaker can't carp about such imitations anymore.

With Ford exiting the compact CUV hybrid territory and with only a few models offering third-row options, Nissan hints that it will potentially offer both features in its next-generation compact crossover. These features should help elevate Rogue from its current state of affordable, yet boring, compact crossover.

Nissan Nissan Rogue 2012 2012 Geneva Motor Show 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show Auto Show Concept Cars Crossovers Geneva Geneva Motor Show L.A. L.A. Auto Show