First Look: 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport SL AWD

nissan rogue sport

With America becoming more and more crossover oriented, Nissan finally decided to bring over a miniature version of the Rogue. Dubbing it the Rogue Sport, the model is the U.S. version of the Qashqai Nissan sells in Europe. And thank goodness for the name change. Because frankly, we don’t like our cars to sound like fancy pants food.

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport

Walking up to the Rogue Sport at a recent press event, I couldn’t even tell that it wasn’t a regular Rogue. It looks just like the Rogue unless you do a side by side comparison. It’s smaller than the standard Rogue, about a full foot shorter lengthwise, but again, you’re not going to notice unless the two are parked side-by-side.

Nissan says the smaller size makes it a better option for city-dwellers and also makes it more fun to drive. I felt very in tune with the road and with the car while behind the wheel at the Circuit of the Americas. Acceleration is good and so is cornering and braking. No problems with laboring or whining on a sharp stop. It’s also surprisingly quiet considering it’s not a luxury model.

The 2.0-liter inline four with 141-horsepower takes on the track with ease. Good news for trim decisions is that it’s the only engine currently available on the Rogue Sport. So that’s a non-factor when picking out which Sport is right for you.

One thing you do have to decide though is whether to go with front- or all-wheel-drive. My test Rogue Sport was an SL AWD trim. I love the AWD and could definitely feel the better grip of having power going to all four wheels.

The interior comfortable in that it doesn’t feel like anything new. There’s actually a CD slot and plenty of actual buttons instead of just everything on a touchscreen. The controls were intuitive to me and the ports super easy to access right at the bottom of the middle media center. I was immediately able to plug my phone in and start charging.

Physical comfort holds to the standard of a compact SUV with comfortable seats, good headroom, a touch screen, and easy to use controls. There’s an all-black version available, but personally, I’m a fan of the nice balance of black and light gray in the test model. Plus, in Texas, light-colored seats are a must.

The inside is basically a mirror image of the full-size Rogue. It’s less than an inch smaller in most interior measurements comparing it to its big sib, but shoulder room is the same. So if you fit into the Rogue you’ll fit into the Sport.

The thing to keep in mind when deciding between the Rogue Sport and a regular Rogue is are you looking for something on the bigger side of a hatchback with a better SUV road height. Or are you looking for a compact with plenty of extra storage and room for all your gear? If the first, go sport, if the latter, stick with the best-selling Rogue.

The Sport for sure makes a contender in the hot SUV market and popularity of hatchbacks. It’s a great option to get to ride up SUV style and still have the compact size and cheaper price of a hatch. Would make a great car for a mom who’s kids are grown but still wants the space to tote stuff around. Or a young adult with dogs and who wants a car that can make the transition to family life if needed.

All in all, it was a fun model to drive and you totally need to give it a test drive if you’re looking for an SUV or hatchback in the low $20k range.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick Photo

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