Don’t get a ding in the car they tell me, test drive it but don’t have too much fun, they tell me. Sure sure don’t worry. I’m just going to take the 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport out to see how it handles curves, blind turns, extreme dips, and the hills that make my town famous. The best part, this stunner in black, holds its own, with all the Mercedes and Beamers on the road.
Nissan’s standard full-size Rogue is the current #1 best-selling SUV in America year-to-date as of June 2017. The Sport is its little sib and newbie on the block with a $3,000 lower starting base price.
Kicking things off with technology…
The best tech feature on my top-of-the-line SL model, the one that makes the Sport into a magic carpet, is its four-camera system. Hit ‘camera’ button on the dash and you’re given the 360-degree blimp view of everything surrounding you on the 7-inch color touchscreen. I used this feature for pulling into parking spots, and for backing in it automatically pulls up when you hit reverse.
Hooking up my phone in the parking lot before heading out was easy. Just turn the Bluetooth on your phone on and the Rogue Sports Bluetooth on from the display. Then just a-okay all the permissions.
The now becoming a given feature of Bluetooth hands-free calling works great. I had no trouble calling up my mom and telling her I was having way too much fun test driving the Rogue Sport.
The A/C works to the point of freezing your bones, with the dual auto climate system allowing you your buddies to dress in as many or as few layers as you’d like. The SL trim’s 6-speaker audio system is great, to the point of the base vibrating the rearview mirror. I still can’t believe the rearview mirror isn’t auto-adjusting.
The entertainment tech center is not easiest I’ve ever worked. There are a lot of buttons to learn and some of them do the same thing. A volume knob is always a plus but I find the turning knob on the far right hard to reach without leaning forward. At any rate, it’s too complicated to figure out while you’re on the freeway, fiddle with it at the light, or get your co-pilot to be your DJ. But I imagine within the first 1,000 miles I would learn and be 100 percent comfortable with the system.
One of my favorite things about driving this car, considering that it isn’t the car I’m used to, is all the cool safety technologies. The Lane Departure Warning System, part of Nissan’s Intelligent Safety Shield Technologies, is awesome and not annoying in that when you’re on curvy roads it’s as easy as turning off the lane departure warning in the in cockpit settings to keep from getting beeped at on tight curvy roads.
There is Forward Emergency Braking on my model, but I didn’t put it to the test (I mean what would I tell Nissan if I got in a fender bender, “Oh you know, just putting the emergency brakes to the test. Yep. That wouldn’t fly). The collision alerts work with a little beeping sound and flashing yellow lights on the doors for blind spot collision and flashing little lights on in the dash for lane departure.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn’t conducted Rogue Sport safety tests yet, but the SL’s optional LED headlights are super bright so I wonder about glare. The IIHS did give the standard 2017 Rogue SL Platinum trim’s LED projector low and high beams an A “rating” in recent safety testing, where it earned a Top Safety Pick+ but noted the low beams created some glare.
It handles the hills I took it up and over like a pro. It purrs like a kitten on all the S curves and sharp inclines without actually purring. The cabin remains super quiet without much engine noise on all the hills and stomach-dropping dips. The thing just drives so smoothly.
Handling is confident and responsive. Some reviewers note that it’s boring. But for a mid-size SUV in this price range, I find it a joy to drive.
On the freeway, it could use a shot more than its 141-horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque, but not much. There’s a delay in oomph, yes, but it kicks in right when you need it. For example, cutting over into the left lane, with a truck bearing down on me. I stepped on it and it accelerated more than enough to hit his pace before the truck was on my bumper.
Sure doesn’t merge like a Mustang, but after warming up to the driving you can calculate power response and merge accordingly.
When I saw they were sending me AWD I thought Oh man. That means I’ll be taking it off road even if it’s just side of the road grass killing just for the fun of checking out handling. And I did.
Of course, the primary drivers of the Rogue Sport AWD will be those who consider themselves suburban adventurers and maybe hit a non-pavement road once every blue moon. For all of them, the Rogue Sport AWD will charm. It gets you to those off the beaten path trailheads no problem.
I drove to a city park parking lot with plenty of gravel and grass to drive through. I did some tight turns, trundling it through the gravel at speeds between 15 – 20 mph. It takes the gravel and grass like a champ. It passes the off road parking lot test with flying colors.
I got the 27 combined mpg rating making a quick commute to a meeting and 14 mpg on a run to the grocery store down the street. I spent most of the drive waiting to make a left turn into oncoming traffic and then sitting at a red light.
Keep in mind that it is an AWD SUV, and while yes it gets relatively good mileage comparing it to larger SUVs it’s still not a compact sedan or hybrid. The Rogue Sport does get an EPA rating of 1-mpg less in both city and highway than its full-size Rogue sibling.
The outside is distinctive. Its hood is more bulldog and aggressive in real life than it looks in the pictures. The roofline is a beautiful sloping line. It creates a practical version of luxury coupe-like SUVs because it’s not quite as sloping, but enough to give that stylish pop. The shiny roof rails, standard on the SV and SL trims, are floating highlights. I for sure felt very stylish getting in and out of it. A thing for me considering I’m a huge granola girl.
Love love love the perforated leather seating surface in the cabin. They feel super nice on my legs in my shorts. They never burn skin with their classy, light grey color. The black interior accenting with its subtle sparkle is super posh. The grey is also really unique and makes it feel way more expensive and custom than it actually is. It feels special compared to black or tan. The lumbar support on the 6-way power driver’s seat is in-between firm and soft, making driving for hours doable. The seat bottoms are also deep for those of you tall folks.
The middle compartment is great. It offers a nice armrest with cool leather stitching that feels soft and sophisticated. Inside it offers plenty of room for 5ish CDs, wallet, and phone. And yes, it does offer a cd player. The USB and auxiliary inputs are forward and under the middle dash, but there are these useful little cubby holes that allow you to close the middle console and still fish out the wire to connect your tech.
SL Premium and Platinum Packages
My tester came equipped with two add-on packages. The $2,280 Premium package includes Blind Spot Monitoring, Forward Emergency Braking, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert along with the power sunroof. A $570 Platinum package adds more safety features: Intelligent Cruise Control, FEB Pedestrian Detection, and Lane Departure Warning along with Lane Departure Prevention.
Editor’s Note: Madeline Haynes is a correspondent for Car Pro USA, and is starting to review vehicles for us, and doing an amazing job!