2017 Nissan Rogue Sport Drivers' Notes Review | Going A Little Rogue

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport Drivers' Notes Review | Going a little Rogue

Vocabulary pop quiz. A Qashqai is:

A) A heavily tattooed whale harpooner.

B) A Philip Glass film score.

C) A Turkic tribe in Iran.

The answer is C). And also D), a Nissan subcompact crossover. For Americans, however, it was rebranded as the 2018 Nissan Rogue Sport because, well, that apparently was just easier for us. Do you think a tribe in Iran wonders why a car was named after it? They should ask the Touareg.

The Qashqai has been a hit overseas for years, especially in Great Britain, but it first came to our shores a few months ago, when our John Beltz Snyder did our first drive review. He liked it. We've had a couple of opportunities to drive a Rogue Sport since then. Here's what's it's like to spend more time in it:

Managing Editor Greg Rasa: During a week with the Rogue Sport, I rediscovered a simple pleasure that had been lost in the big-SUV era — the ability to fit in a parking space with ample room on all sides. No squeezing, just open the door and step on out.

Actually, the subcompact Rogue Sport is the same width as its merely-compact Rogue namesake we've had in the United States for years. But the Sport is more than a foot shorter at 172 inches, making it highly maneuverable. And it's a half-foot shorter in height at just about 5 feet, which is nice for you active young urbanites who hoist your bikes and kayaks up onto the roof.

Though small on the outside, it doesn't feel that way inside. The front of the cabin is basically identical to the regular Rogue. The space savings come in the second row and cargo area. Legroom in the second row actually isn't bad — though passengers are sitting bolt upright and on top of the rear wheels. A preteen test passenger somehow managed to whack her knee hard trying to boost herself up over the wheel arch.

The cargo area, at 22.9 cubic feet behind the second row (that's 16.4 cubic feet less than the Rogue), is average for this class. It held plenty of grocery bags, and it has a couple of nifty under-floor "divide and hide" compartments.

The Rogue Sport in basic S trim and FWD starts at $22,615 with destination charges. The test vehicle was the top-level Rogue Sport SL AWD at north of $31K, with heated leather seats, moonroof, nav, heated steering wheel and heated outside mirrors. Driver-assist equipment includes lane-departure warning and prevention, blind spot information system, surround-view cameras, rear cross-traffic alert and automatic emergency braking.

The interior seems nice enough, though the more you look the more you see little cost-cutting measures like the seat-bottom sides that are cloth to save on bits and scraps of leather. Some of the controls seem cheap, like the small, shallow radio volume knob. The navigation does not seem to sync with the vehicle light controls to auto-dim for night driving, though there's a button to do that manually.

This car makes just 141 horsepower and 147 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm from its 2.0-liter four. And it has a CVT. So the "Sport" moniker pertains to nothing performance-related, just its diminutive size and zippy color choices like Monarch Orange or Nitro Lime. But the car drives ... fine. It's nimble enough. Acceleration is sufficient to get you to the grocery store and back. The cabin is quiet. Steering is light but not lifeless, and a sport setting gives it a little more heft.

Indicated mileage was just 18 mpg in a week of city driving, far below its EPA ratings of 24 city, 30 highway and 27 combined. But winter ambient temperatures were a factor.

If a subcompact crossover is your heart's desire, you've got many choices. The Rogue Sport is nice-looking and not-bad-driving. You'd want to cross-shop it against the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3, Subaru Crosstrek, Kia Niro and NHTSA-only-knows how many others, and our Car Comparison tool is a great way to do that.

Contributing Editor James Riswick: First, a word about the regular, non-Sport Nissan Rogue. It makes a terrific first impression. It looks a bit more stylish than more utilitarian rivals. The attractive cabin has materials that look and feel good. There's so much space inside that they even managed to shoehorn in a third-row seat. Pricing is also competitive, and fuel economy is among the class best. Furthermore, people like "Star Wars."

I totally get why so many people buy the Rogue after checking it out on paper and at a dealership. The trouble is, the Rogue gets less appealing the more you drive it. The engine is underpowered, and the CVT does it few favors. Everything about the driving experience can be described as dreary. I drove one from Nashville to New York last year and, well, I would've rather driven something else.

Something like, say, the Nissan Rogue Sport. Is it sporty? Heck no, but there's enough of a difference between the Sport and its mechanically related big brother to make a significant difference. Straight-line performance isn't any better, but the throttle response is far sharper, providing the impression of a vehicle that's more keen to actually move. The suspension is tauter and the ride is more controlled, resulting in a far better car to drive. "Dreary" didn't really come to mind while driving it.

At the same time, the Rogue Sport benefits from comparable good looks and basically the exact same cabin design and quality. Sure, it's not as big as the regular Rogue, but it's not that small, either. For those who don't really need max cargo and passenger space, I'm a firm believer that this Rogue Sport would be a much better choice than its big brother. It makes a similar first impression, but its second, 13th and 40th impressions are much stronger.

Compare subcompact crossovers using Autoblog's Compare tool.

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2017 Nissan Rogue Sport Drivers' Notes Review | Going a little Rogue2017 Nissan Rogue Sport Drivers' Notes Review | Going a little Rogue2017 Nissan Rogue Sport Drivers' Notes Review | Going a little Rogue

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport Drivers' Notes Review | Going a little Rogue2017 Nissan Rogue Sport Drivers' Notes Review | Going a little Rogue2017 Nissan Rogue Sport Drivers' Notes Review | Going a little Rogue

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport Drivers' Notes Review | Going a little Rogue2017 Nissan Rogue Sport Drivers' Notes Review | Going a little Rogue