As an older Millennial, I’m continuously told by marketing people that I’m the Holy Grail of car customers.
Engine: 2.0L 4-cylinder
Output: 141 hp, 147 lb-ft of torque
EPA Fuel Economy (MPG): 24 city, 30 hwy, 27 combined (AWD)
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 9.1 city, 7.5 hwy, 8.4 combined (AWD)
US Price: Starts at $22,380 (incl. destination), $27,420 fully loaded/as tested
CAN Price: Starts at $21,748 (incl. destination)
I have no kids, I live in the city, have decent disposable income, and can appreciate an out-of-town weekend adventure here and there, so the new 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport (Qashqai in Canada and the rest of the world) should be right up my alley. On a quick trip to Nashville, Tenn., a place that Nissan’s North American HQ calls home and a city that is now overrun with hipster Millennial folk like me, we were able to drive the Rogue Sport for the first time in its natural habitat. Interesting fact: Nissan was the top-selling brand among Millennials last year, and the Rogue Sport should help keep that record going.
A Familiar Drive
Driving around visiting little coffee shops, stopping for hipster artisan donuts, passing bars with live music, and hunting for Nashville’s many colorful murals, the Rogue Sport felt completely familiar. People shopping this segment want something easy to drive, easy to park and essentially unobtrusive, and the Rogue Sport is all those things. With its compact dimensions and decent sightlines, the 360-degree top-down reverse camera makes parking ridiculously painless.
The Rogue Sport is powered by naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 141 horsepower and 147 pound-feet of torque; a continuously variable transmission is the only one available (Canadian Qashqais come with a manual transmission on the base model). It all works as expected — no podium finishes, but getting to highway speeds and passing slower cars can be done easily enough. The CVT, like many other such transmissions, drones under full acceleration and could be more responsive, but it’s generally acceptable. The brakes could also benefit from being a bit sharper, but the driving dynamics reflect what others in the Rogue Sport’s segment can offer.
More nimble and easy to maneuver than its bigger Rogue sibling, the Rogue Sport is predictable and even verges on sporty. I don’t mean sporty as in Fast and Furious, but the crossover feels sporty simply because it has a willingness to change directions and juke around town.
How Does It Compare to the Competition?
Speaking of the Juke, the Rogue Sport is much more practical and more approachable than its funky frog-faced sibling, so Nissan doesn’t think they will step on each other’s toes. People who want a sportier, more unique and unconventional crossover will go for the Juke and its turbo engine with more horsepower and torque (personally, I love the Juke, especially the NISMO one), but if cargo capacity, more space, and not standing out too much are their priority, the Rogue Sport can meet that need.
With nearly double the cargo capacity of the Juke, the Rogue Sport has 22.9 cu-ft of cargo space, which opens up to a big 61.1 cu-ft with the second row folded flat. The larger Rogue, meanwhile, offers 39.3 cu-ft and 70 with the seats folded flat. Moving outside the Nissan family, the Rogue has slightly more total cargo capacity than the Honda HR-V (23.2 cu-ft/57.6 with the seats folded) and certainly looks less dorky. And although it’s not as fun to drive or as good-looking as the Mazda CX-3, it does have far more cargo capacity.
All the Driver Assists
Basically, the Rogue Sport offers all the same features the bigger Rogue does: available forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and prevention, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, the excellent around-view monitor with moving object detection, adaptive cruise control, remote engine start, hill start assist, and more. Like most other systems, the lane departure warning is too sensitive and annoying, so I just turn it off. The adaptive cruise control is pretty smooth, however, and I never needed to intervene with the brakes thinking the Rogue Sport wouldn’t slow down on its own. The “Divide and Hide” cargo system in the trunk is available and Nissan’s Easy-Fill system for the tires is standard.
The interior is also familiar and inoffensive. Nothing about it screams “segment leading,” but it has a clean, user-friendly layout and doesn’t look or feel terribly cheap.
A Few Missing Things
The Rogue Sport has missed out on a few key areas that I, along with many other Millennials are looking for. For one, it only has one USB port and it’s not a fast charging one. The car also isn’t compatible with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, meaning the USB port is pretty much useless to me. Most cars these days should have quick-charge ports in the front and back so me and my passengers can get their phones charged up for all the Instagramming and Snapchatting we Millennials apparently do so much. Having Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also cuts down on driver distractions, as it locks out non-essential apps and displays a more user-friendly infotainment display that can be controlled via voice commands. [UPDATE: The Nissan Rogue Sport now comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.]
The other strange thing is that although it is smaller and presumably lighter, the Rogue Sport has the same fuel economy as its bigger Rogue sibling despite having a smaller and less powerful engine. Rated at 24 mpg city, 30 hwy, 27 combined for the AWD model, it is also less fuel efficient than the Honda HR-V (27/31/21 mpg), which is OK because it has more torque and definitely feels a bit more alive.
The Verdict: 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport Review
The 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport is a solid new offering in a very competitive segment. Although it doesn’t rise above and beyond its competition, it is non-offensive in nature because it does mostly everything right — combined with its affordable price, that means it will sell boatloads. Generally, Nissan USA sees the buyer as wanting a smaller and more affordable Rogue, which helps explain why they named it the way they did instead of calling it the Qashqai like it’s called in the rest of the world. And considering that the Rogue is Nissan’s top-selling model in the U.S., it seems like a pretty smart decision.
But as a Millennial, I’m known sometimes to not make the smartest decisions, preferring instead to follow my gut or pick something that’s a bit more obscure, because, let’s face it, Millennials hate being labeled as Millennials, so we might do the complete opposite of what people say Millennials should/must do. For the Rogue Sport to be a hit with “my people,” it has to be priced right and have all the right features, but it also has to be marketed properly. There are far too many companies and automakers who talk down to Millennials, and it’s enough to drive them away. Still, the Rogue Sport has all the right ingredients to be a success whether you’re a Millennial or not.