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

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  • 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.

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