Competes with: Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR, Mazda CX-3, Jeep Renegade, Chevrolet Trax, Subaru Crosstrek, Nissan Juke
Looks like: A 2017 Nissan Rogue’s younger, cuter sister
Drivetrains: 141-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder; continuously variable automatic transmission with Eco mode; front- or all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Spring 2017
Like mushrooms, subcompact SUVs have popped up almost to create a whole new set of choices for U.S. buyers, particularly those in urban areas. Here comes another one: the Nissan Rogue Sport making its debut at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
You could argue that Nissan had the first one, but its sporty, coupe-like all-wheel-drive Juke, while fun, is an outlier among the more conventional small hatchbacks now populating the subcompact SUV group. It seemed almost out of place in our 2015 comparison of small SUVs.
Enter the more traditional Rogue Sport subcompact SUV. Like Ford’s small EcoSport SUV unveiled in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the Rogue Sport is the U.S. version of a small SUV Nissan sells abroad, the Qashqai.
Unlike the distinctive Juke, the Rogue Sport looks very much like a scaled-down and tweaked version of the Rogue compact SUV, Nissan’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for 2016. The Sport shares the Rogue platform and is about the same width, but it is about a foot shorter and about 5 inches lower in height.
The Sport also wears the Nissan “V-Motion” grille and it stretches wide into V-shaped standard daytime running lights and headlight pods that are pulled around the corners. Its profile has the same style and C-pillar shape as the Rogue, but side character lines are stronger and more sharply defined. High arches house wheels up to 19 inches. The overall effect is crisper and sleeker. Large LED “boomerang”-shaped taillights dominate the rear, wrapping around the corners and extending into the liftgate, which is large but has a higher load height than the Rogue above a mostly dark gray-cladded (i.e., city-friendly) bumper.
The wide body, just 0.1 inch narrower than the Rogue, and long wheelbase, just 2.3 inches shorter, creates a spacious interior feel and allows such grown-up amenities as a full console and armrest and bin between the front seats. There’s also USB connectivity and 12-volt power in the console bin. Standards include a six-way adjustable driver’s seat, four-way adjustable front passenger seat, 60/40-split folding backseat, and climate control vents and a center armrest for the rear seat. Heated seats, a power driver’s seat and leather trim are available as you move up the three trims offered.
A 5-inch display is standard; the available multimedia system with navigation has a 7-inch screen. Unlike some makers with entries in this class, Nissan does not appear to be holding many of the Rogue’s premium options back to try to avoid stealing sales from the larger SUV. One example: Beyond a backup camera, the Sport offers a 360-degree camera system that includes its Moving Object Detection.
In back, Nissan rates the cargo space at 22.9 cubic feet behind the second-row seat and 61.1 cubic feet with the backseat folded, both large for the subcompact SUV class.
Under the Hood
All Sports have a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four cylinder that puts out 141 hp and 147 pounds-feet of torque. It is mated to a CVT with an Eco mode button. Nissan provided no estimates for its expected fuel economy ratings. The chassis features a multilink independent rear suspension.
Nissan is making its full suite of electronic safety aids available on the Sport, including a front collision system with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control.