Don’t be fooled, the 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport isn’t a high-performance car.
It’s the new pint-size version of the increasingly popular Rogue crossover, and its surname means the same thing as when you say “Hey, sport!” to a small boy — or did back in the ’50s.
Nissan calls it the Qashqai, the name of an Iranian ethnic group, in other parts of the world. While much more interesting than Sport, you can understand why it didn’t want to open that can of worms in the U.S.
Ten inches shorter in length than the Rogue, the Sport fits into a former no man’s land between subcompact and compact SUVs that’s also occupied by the new Jeep Compass and will surely become a crowded battleground now that it’s been fully breached.
Based on the same platform as the Rogue, the Sport gets a smaller engine to go with its petite proportions. A 141 hp 2.0-liter is matched to a CVT automatic transmission, as is the Nissan way, and is available with either front- or all-wheel-drive, as is the crossover way.
The interior style and trim are straight from the latest Nissan look book, and a little better than you might expect for its $22,380 base price. Most of the size was cut from the rear leg and cargo room, but you wouldn’t know it was missing unless you’d just gotten out of a Rogue, which is exceptionally spacious for its class.
What is missing are USB ports for the tech-savvy young’uns the Sport is targeting. There’s one lonely one on the center console, and none in the rear. The Sport is also saddled with an older version of the Nissan Connect infotainment system that doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone integration. It looks dated, but it does what it does just fine.
A fully-loaded all-wheel-drive Sport like my test car can be had with an extensive amount of electronic driver’s aids, however, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure prevention, a 360-degree parking camera system and automatic emergency brakes (which will be standard on 2018 models) for $31,230.
There’s also an Active Ride Control system that imperceptibly uses the brakes to shift the weight of the vehicle to smooth out the ride when you hit bumps. How well does it work? I just told you, it’s imperceptible. That said, the Sport is very comfortable on all surfaces.
Especially with all of that equipment accounted for, the Sport is a formidable urban lifestyle machine. It feels, drives and even smells just like the full-size Rogue, but it’s a little easier to park and navigate through tight city streets. It’s not fast, but it never seems underpowered. Oddly, the AWD Sport has the same 27 mpg combined fuel economy rating as the heavier and more powerful AWD Rogue.
Apparently, size doesn’t always matter.
2017 Nissan Rogue Sport
Base price: $22,380
As tested: $31,230
Type: 4-door, 5-passenger SUV
Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
Power: 141 hp, 147 lb-ft
Transmission: CVT automatic
MPG: 25 city/32 hwy