Sporty Spice – the 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport SL AWD

Things have been heating up in the subcompact crossover market as automakers scramble to flood the market with compact, efficient, and spacious crossovers designed for active and/or urban lifestyles. And because this is a new niche for most manufacturers to try to fill in the US, it’s often a struggle to get it right. Luckily for Nissan, the 2017 Rogue Sport, while new to the U.S., has been available in Europe and Asia as the Quashqai for a few generations. This means that unlike some of the other competitors in this segment that were perhaps rushed to market, the Rogue Sport already experiences a level of refinement carried over from a generation or two of experience. What that means for us here is that the 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport features more interior space, a better ride, and more refinement than its rivals.

While looks are very much subjective, to my eye, Nissan got it right in this instance. The larger 19-inch wheels do a beautiful job of filling the wheel arches and accentuate the bold, angular bodywork. I also applaud Nissan’s commitment to offering fun, exciting paint colors that help the Rogue Sport stand out in a crowd. Although this particular example arrived in an elegant and restrained pearlescent white, looking at Nissan’s color palette, it’s great to see fun colors like “Monarch Orange”, “Palatial Ruby”, “Nitro Green”, or “Mocha Almond”. As you’d expect, the styling is similar to the larger Rogue, with about a foot of length taken mostly out of the rear overhang, giving overall proportions that are closer to a tall hatchback than a traditional crossover. The smaller size makes it a breeze to drive, especially in congested urban areas, where it zips down narrow streets and squeezes into tight parking spaces with ease. The 360-degree camera helps in more situations than you might expect, mostly because the Rogue Sport’s high beltline doesn’t exactly help with visibility out of the rear of the vehicle. Still, Nissan has produced a vehicle that is easy to maneuver in nearly any environment.

Inside, the Rogue Sport feels roomier than its footprint might lead you to believe. The sporty, flat-bottomed steering wheel feels great in your hands and the steering wheel controls are both easy to reach and incredibly responsive. The seats, while not particularly supportive for sportier driving are incredibly comfortable and would make a perfect throne for long road trips. In the SL-trim level, the heated leather seats were a welcome addition, although there were a few areas around the cabin that could’ve benefitted from some soft-touch material instead of hard, textured plastic. Given the sub-$22,000 MSRP base price though, the cabin felt surprisingly solid and well put together. Even with the front seat adjusted comfortably for a six-foot-tall driver, rear seat leg room was more than reasonable for another six-footer behind them. Similarly, the rear hatch space is far larger than we expected given the size of the vehicle, with clever carpet-lined removable panels that can be used to hide or separate items in the trunk.

With an as-tested price of $31,470 for a fully-loaded 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport SL AWD with the SL Premium Package and a few other select options such as premium pearl white paint, carpeted floor mats, rear cargo protector, chrome rear bumper protector and splash guards, the Rogue offers a pretty compelling package. While things like the infotainment screen are already starting to look a little dated, the rest of the technology in the car is on point. Nissan’s NissanConnect app can be used for a wide range of things that range from practical to… Not so practical. For instance, it’s great to see music apps like Pandora and iHeartRadio, but why did Nissan feel the urge to include an integrated Facebook app that is this clumsy when the user’s phone likely offers a much better experience and is already in the car? Not to mention the fact that the Facebook app is disabled while driving (which is a very good thing) anyway. Luckily, Nissan’s app also offers a number of convenience features too, like the ability to remotely start or lock/unlock the car from your phone.

Nissan has also managed to pack a number of high-level safety features into the Rogue Sport that goes beyond the handy 360-degree camera system. It’s a welcome addition to see optional equipment like blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and forward emergency braking, as well as the convenience of an available adaptive cruise control system with lane keep assist and forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection. From behind the wheel, these systems are generally unobtrusive until they need to be, with the occasional beep and flash of light when there’s something to be aware of. Generally though, the Nissan Rogue Sport makes for a fine mode of transportation for the general adventures of daily life. The 141-hp, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine doesn’t offer much oomph but the Rogue Sport feels peppy enough when merging onto the highway or passing someone. Personally, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the CVT transmission and how it artificially changes gears, but I’m sure most people won’t notice or care what kind of transmission is in the Rogue Sport as long as it gets them where they need to go, which this will do without fuss. Beyond that, the Rogue Sport seems to excel at being a comfortable, practical small crossover that prioritizes lots of interior space and safety over driver involvement. For those looking for a more exciting subcompact crossover, Nissan does still make the Juke, but not everyone will appreciate the polarizing styling or harsher ride. When it comes to driving something every day though, the well-rounded and well-equipped Rogue Sport seems to be the best bet.

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