2017 Nissan Rogue Sport Quietness Rules! Review By Thom Cannell
2017 Nissan Rogue Sport
The Auto Channel
Auto Central Michigan; So, you don’t have kids? You’re a Millennial or empty nester looking for a new car? What to buy, what to buy?
If you’re like others in your situation you’ll look for a crossover or CUV, a small one with the technology and safety features you need, one with comfort and style and decent fuel economy. Hmmm, Nissan’s 2017 Rogue Sport sounds like a candidate. After all, its Rogue sibling outsells Honda’s CR-V.
But Rogue Sport is new and untried, isn’t it? Nissan’s 2017 Rogue Sport is anything but untried, it’s been on sale in Europe as Qashqai for several years. There it successfully competes in the luxury marketplace against Audi and BMW. Qashqai/Rogue Sport has a history of wining awards against such stiff competition.
In North America Rogue Sport has no same-size competitors, but comparisons must be made so let’s name names. Closest is Honda’s HR-V, with Kia’s Sportage and Hyundai’s Tucson larger, and Mazda’s CX-3 smaller. With many trading from compact hatchbacks to compact CUVs we expect more in the next few years.
So Rogue Sport is a uniquely sized, “just enough space” compact CUV that gets 30+MPG in EPA tests, has 61.1 cubic feet of storage with the second seat folded and could, in a pinch seat five. Compared to Rogue it’s a foot shorter, five inches less tall, and has about nine cubic feet less storage capacity. That’s about nine boxed basketballs. Hip room is very similar to the larger Rogue, headroom just a couple of inches less.
Let’s look at the vehicle, which Nissan says is “More emotional, less technical than Rogue” Say what? We think they’re saying that Rogue has a more refined and rounded shape than the extensively chiseled Sport. Rogue also has more of the deeply drawn corporate V-Motion grille (which we expect Sport to have in its third evolution). Rogue Sport retains the high shoulders, pinched fast-back rear, and a strong character line connecting the front wheel arch to the rear tail light. We’d call it brash and striking, with an exterior that should look good for many years.
Rogue Sport offers only two interior colors, light gray and deep charcoal. For exteriors there’s ten colors including the extra-cost Monarch Orange on our vehicle. Inside, we applaud the piano-black accents that replace too-familiar brushed metal. Black harmonizes with the upper dash panel, and each sculpted piece is subtly matte so you’re not blinded by random reflections of the sun. Its blackness is enhanced by suspended flecks of neutral color, a subtle but handsome feature.
Our SL had charcoal leather seating and it’s worth mentioning how well the various panels matched in graining and color. After all, if you’re competing against BMW and Audi you’d better be top-of-class. Another noteworthy item is that the seats are the same as in Rogue, which speaks to how much hip and shoulder room Rogue Sport delivers.
The 2017 Rogue Sport is on sale with pricing starting at $21,420 for a front-wheel drive S. The base CUV is not barren, arriving with Siri Eyes Free and Bluetooth hands-free audio and music streaming incorporated into the audio system. You also get a rear view monitor. Also, like every Rogue Sport, there’s a 2.0-liter normally aspirated engine coupled to a CVT (continuously variable gears) transmission. This provide a very low low gear, as well as a substantial overdrive.
Nissan expect to sell more of the SV model, which starts at $23,020 and adds 17” alloy wheels, push button ignition and keyless entry, power exterior mirrors with LED turn signals embedded and better power adjustable seats. Third in the model lineup is the SL model, which we drove. It comes with leather seats, 19” alloy wheels, better telematics (NissanConnect suite of services—lost car, stolen car, geo fencing, etc.—navigation, and mobile apps and services) on its 7” touch screen and an optional Around View Monitor that can detect moving objects. Pricing for FWD SLs begin at $26,070 MSRP.
Our car had both the Premium ($570) and Platinum ($2,280) packages. The Platinum package is valuable, adding intelligent cruise control, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention to help prevent wandering across lane lines, as well as Forward Emergency Braking. Nissan’s forward braking system is active above 20mph. On our drive we again tried the beep-ilicious Lane Departure Warning and still find it annoying. We also tried Lane Departure Prevention with mixed results. On some roads it nudged us back into the lane and on others, not so much.
The Premium package adds a one-touch glass moonroof, LED headlights with High Beam assist (think automatic dimming), and both Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. We wish we could order a’ la’ carte and would add the LED headlight system, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert.
All Rogue Sports have, LED daytime running lights, an aerodynamic rear spoiler and available all-wheel-drive, and $940 destination charge. We would always opt for all-wheel-drive for its safety and security benefits, a $1,350 option.
Now that we’re clear on specifications lets look closer at the intangibles, Rogue Sport’s road manners, its powertrain, and its elusive and subjective emotional appeal. What defined the Rogue Sport to us, and it was surprising, was the quietness of this relatively inexpensive CUV. Rogue Sport wasn’t just quiet on smooth roads, it was quiet over bumps and potholes where noise is usually drummed into the cabin. This makes the vehicle excellent for conversation and you could play favorite music tracks at nearly inaudible volume, yet find the music definable when conversation lagged. That’s almost staggering!
When we mentioned that Rogue Sport was transported whole from Europe we were a bit incomplete. There were a few, and to us surprising, changes. For instance steering is tuned a bit heavier (we didn’t find it heavy at all) for its duty in North American urban environments. And more unforeseen, the suspension for North America is tuned firmer than for Europe. When have you ever heard that? We learned that while all the suspension pieces remain similar, spring rates and damper tuning is firmer. The result is a chassis that can be driven far harder than the powertrain suggests.
So, we don’t find the current powertrain to be a defining feature of Rogue Sport. While it accelerates reasonably and gets decent fuel economy you’d be hard pressed to describe it as thrilling. Rogue Sports’ 2.0-liter engine is normally aspirated and delivers 141 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque. Hard acceleration with any similar motor produces engine noise. Adding the muted howl of a typical CVT transmission meant that whenever we accelerated hard we got a larger blast of engine noise. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; some car companies pipe the sound of the engine into the cockpit so you think it’s a more powerful engine. It just seemed out of place in an otherwise quiet vehicle. So we’re hoping for a hybrid version with Dual Clutch Transmission like Rogue’s, or a turbocharged direct-injected engine.
Regardless, when driven briskly the Rogue Sport’s independent front struts with coil springs and an anti-roll bar, independent rear multi-link suspension with its own anti-roll bar made it a very willing beast indeed. You could, and we did, drive it hard which with never a moment of worry. Steering, of course electronic power-assisted steering, and four-wheel disc brakes made it a genuine pleasure to drive on the highway and on rural two-lanes.
Were we in the market for a solid, quiet, efficient CUV that holds four, gets 31 mpg while keeping cost below thirty grand, we’d surely test drive Rogue Sport.
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