Quick Drive: 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport

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Car Blog boot-scoots out to Nashville to drive the new Nissan crossover.

Nashville, Tennessee is known for being full of hopes and dreams, singers and songwriters, and country and western. Nissan recently invited me out there to drive its new 2017 Rogue Sport. I only had a couple of hours behind the wheel, so I’m going to keep this Quick Drive piece about it short and sweet.

What is It?

The Rogue Sport is not a new Rogue trim line. It’s a new model based on the Nissan Qashqai that people around the world have been able to buy for the last few years. It’s also smaller than the Rogue (and built in Kyushu, Japan as opposed to Smyrna, Tennessee where the USDM Rogue is manufactured). Compared to its big brother, the Rogue Sport is two inches shorter in the wheelbase, 12 inches shorter overall, and 5.6 inches lower in total height. Those changes add up to a nine cubic-foot loss in cargo space when the second row of each vehicle is folded down.

How Does It Come?

The Rogue Sport is available in base S, mid-level SV, and top-of-the-line SL trim, each of which can be equipped with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

Base prices start at $21,420 for a FWD Rogue Sport S and go up to $27,420 for an AWD Rogue Sport SL.

Like all of the other automotive journalists gathered in Nashville, I drove a pre-production Rogue Sport SL. Standard equipment for the flagship Rogue Sport includes heated leather front seats, Remote Engine Start, NissanConnect, navigation, a 7-inch touchscreen, the Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, and 19-inch wheels.

What Makes It Go?

All Rogue Sports are powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter I4 with 141 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque. An Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) is the only available transmission. According to the EPA, that powertrain is good for 24 city, 30 highway, and 27 combined mpg in all-wheel-drive models and 25 city, 32 highway, and 28 combined mpg in front-wheel-drive models.

When Can I Get One?

Rogue Sports hit dealerships this month.

What are the Highlights?

-The exterior. Granted, Nissan’s designers didn’t have to change much about the Qashqai’s exterior when they made the Rogue Sport, but maybe it’s a good thing they didn’t. Why risk messing up a vehicle that looks well-proportioned, athletic, and sporty?

-The available safety equipment. My SL tester had an Around View Monitor which gave me a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of the Rogue Sport. If you want, you can tanke an SL and add optional features including Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

-The second row. OK, this is kind of a mixed bag. I’m 5’10” and going from the driver’s seat to “sitting behind myself” was a little less than comfortable because while I had plenty of headroom, legroom was in shorter supply.

What are the Lowlights?

-The steering. I was hoping the Rogue Sport’s electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion setup would be quicker off center. It didn’t seem to want to change directions with any enthusiasm. The silver lining to that? The weight I felt in the wheel carried through into curves and corners, which gave me confidence.

-Three letters: C. V. T. The Rogue Sport might accelerate briskly on paper. On the road, it’s hard to tell. The CVT was so noisy that it distracted me from paying attention to the speedometer and noticing how quickly the Rogue Sport was able to build speed.

*Prices do not include $960 destination and handling charge.

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