NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Right-sizing is a euphemism for downsizing or subtraction. But the way Nissan uses it means addition. That’s the best way to characterize the 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport.
What the automaker has done is add a subset to its Rogue crossover which recently became the brand’s best-selling model. What’s more, it is the fourth best-selling model in the U.S. behind the top pickup trucks.
The automaker will try to adroitly position the Rogue Sport as an urban vehicle and the regular Rogue as more suited to the suburbs. But that is just marketing. Quite frankly, they are interchangeable vehicles. But that does not mean they are exactly same.
The Rogue Sport is smaller, thus, it is easier to get around city streets, so says the marketing position. They’ve got a point. The test drive took us through the clogged city streets here that were undergoing a bevy of road construction projects.
The crossover had a 2.3 inch shorter wheelbase and overall it was a foot shorter and almost six inches lower. Still, there was more than 61 cu. ft. of cargo space with the second row seat folded and 22.9 cu. ft. with the second row upright.
The Rogue Sport also had a smaller engine than the Rogue. The Sport was powered by a 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine that made 141 horsepower and 147 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to continuously variable transmission.
When we test drove the Rogue Sport, the transmission could have used a little smoothing out. It slightly jerked the crossover into a simulated “gear” when shifting. No doubt these were pre-production models since the Rogue Sport was not due to go on sale until a month or so after our test drive.
We put “shift” in quotes because a CVT does not shift gears. But to gain consumers’ acceptance some manufacturers program them to act like normal transmissions. On the Rogue Sport, the CVT was pretty loud under hard acceleration but it moved the vehicle. A couple of times we got close to 80 mph before we realized it and that was without a lot of effort.
The sheet metal of the Rogue Sport was different but not so different as to mistake if for something other than a Rogue.
The Sport’s exterior featured a sleek rendition of the V grille. Bulging side fenders, robust lower body sides and a wheel oriented stance, gave the Rogue Sport a really sharp look. The rear body was wide and it had LED boomerang taillights and a rear spoiler.
We think body colored fore and aft bumpers lent to a sophisticated look. There were black wheel arches, roof molding and body-colored outside mirrors that were heated with integrated turn signals.
There were three trim levels of the Rogue Sport: S, SV and SL. All trim lines come in front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive models. Thus, Nissan now has a half dozen more crossovers in the hottest segment of the market.
The interior was straightforward. The seats were comfortable; it seemed like the infotainment screen was a little lower than we’ve seen in other vehicles but it worked. The interior materials were good, sight lines were great. We had unobstructed views on vehicle cluttered streets like Franklin, First, Fifth and Del Rio Pike.
In the press material, Nissan said the instrument panel features Fine Vision electroluminescent gauges and 5.0-inch center meter color display with Advanced Driver Assist™ Display. The front center console included an integrated armrest and storage compartment, along with a 12-volt power outlet. Rogue Sport SV and SL grades include Nissan Intelligent Key with Push Button Start.
Standard interior features included 4-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with auxiliary audio input jack, USB connection port for iPod® interface and other compatible devices, Siri® Eyes Free, Streaming Audio via Bluetooth®, Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant (compatible smartphone required) and RearView Monitor. Also available is dual-zone automatic air conditioning. The available Remote Engine Start (RES) system provides flexibility to start the Rogue Sport remotely using the keyless entry fob.
And they didn’t go cheap on the content either. The Rogue Sport can be outfitted with blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, forward emergency braking lane departure warning and lane departure prevention. Also available is forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
There were certainly the usual creature comforts: satellite radio, voice controls and a navigation system.
Starting prices range from $22,380 for a front-wheel-drive 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport S to $28,440 for a 2017 Nissan Rogue SL all-wheel-drive. If you believe in that sort of thing, then The Force seems to be clearly with the Nissan Rogue.
Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.