Now that crossovers have taken over as the family car of choice for most shoppers, Nissan isn’t wasting any time making sure it has something for everybody. With the introduction of the 2017 Rogue Sport that goes on sale this spring, Nissan will have an entry in the growing subcompact crossover segment currently populated by vehicles such as the Chevrolet Trax and Honda HR-V.
Why is it called the Rogue Sport? Mainly because Nissan has done very well with the slightly larger Rogue that has been on sale for years. In fact, it became the brand’s best-selling vehicle in 2016. With that kind of momentum going for the Rogue name, Nissan decided that adding “Sport” was enough to indicate that this is a slightly different take on its already popular compact crossover.
The changes are small in some ways and larger in others. The Rogue Sport is about a foot shorter in overall length compared to the standard Rogue. Much of that length comes out of the rear cargo area, and the Rogue Sport is down about 9 cubic feet compared to the larger Rogue. The wheelbase of the smaller Rogue is only about 2 inches shorter, so there’s still a reasonable amount of passenger space in the second row. It’s helpful that there’s almost as much headroom in back of the Sport as the standard Rogue, so it doesn’t feel as cramped as you might think. If you’re over 6 feet tall, however, your knees will be digging into the front seats.
One of the more noticeable differences between the two Rogues is performance. Both use standard four-cylinder engines, but the Rogue Sport gets only 141 horsepower out of its 2.0-liter engine while the larger Rogue enjoys a healthier 170 horsepower from the its 2.5-liter engine. Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive as an option, and both use Nissan’s continuously variable transmission, so expect solid mileage and predictable performance. It is one of the better CVTs in the class.
The Rogue Sport will have three trim levels: S, SV and SL. The base S will offer the most affordable setup, while the SL adds larger wheels and tires, dual-zone climate control and a more robust audio system. The top-the-line SL gets additional upgrades such as leather seats, remote start, a navigation system and heated seats. No pricing has been announced yet, so it’s not clear how much less expensive the Rogue Sport will be compared to the current Rogue.
The last question that Nissan attempted to answer was who it expects will buy the Rogue Sport. It’s banking on young couples with no children or empty nesters to go for the Rogue Sport’s more maneuverable size and easier-to-swallow price. We think there’s definitely a market for such a vehicle given how consumer tastes have changed. What may have been crossover overkill in years’ past is just another viable option in today’s market.