White Space Wonder: 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport

The Rogue Sport is the middle of a trio of small Nissan crossovers.


The Nissan Rogue Sport is available in three times with optional all-wheel drive.

Crossover utility vehicles are today’s family car, offering a blend of raised visibility, passenger space, and utility. Nissan is well represented in the segment with six utility vehicles to choose from, including the Armada SUV. At the entry-level, Nissan is represented by a trio of models: the subcompact Kicks, the compact Rogue, and the Rogue Sport, which sits between the two. We had the opportunity to evaluate a 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport recently, finding it a compelling entry in the segment.

What’s New for 2020

Introduced in 2017, the Nissan Rogue Sport receives a refresh for its fourth year. The 2020 model features an updated front fascia, modifications to its trim-level offerings, and the standardization of the Nissan Safety Shield 360 driver-assist bundle to all trims. The Rogue Sport is not a derivative of the Rogue. Instead, it is a slightly smaller model based on the Qashqai sold elsewhere.

The 2020 Rogue Sport is available in S ($23,430), SV ($24,900), and SL ($28,600) trims. Add $1,095 for the destination charge. This model comes with standard front-wheel drive and seats five. Upgrading to all-wheel drive adds $1,350 to your cost.

Exterior

We’re a fan of Nissan’s “V-motion” grille as it gives each of its vehicle’s a signature look – there is no mistaking a Nissan for anything else. Moreover, on some models, such as the Altima sedan, it imparts a premium expression. The same can be said for the Rogue Sport – it looks like a pricier vehicle from the front, especially with its standard LED running lights. Stylish wheel choices, flowing lines, body sculpting, and a late-rising beltline add flair.



The Rogue Sport comes with 16-inch steel wheels, halogen headlights, LED daytime running lights, power side mirrors, and a rear spoiler. The SV brings in 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, power heated side mirrors with LED turn signal indicators, and roof rails. At the top SL trim, the Rogue Sport includes 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Fog lights and LED low- and high-beam headlights are included as part of a package upgrade. Unfortunately, there is no power liftgate option – we think Nissan missed something here.

Interior

The Rogue Sport offers room for five, but is ideal for four. The layout is simple, far from complicated, with ample soft-touch surfaces and hard plastics present. The front seats are fairly comfortable and not very well bolstered. The rear compartment is suitable for two, but no more. Cloth seats are standard, leather-wrapped seats are available.

When it comes to cargo space, the Rogue Sport features 22.9 cubic feet of standard cargo space. Fold down the rear seat and 61.1 cubic feet with the seat folded. We like the available “divide-n-hide” cargo system which comes with the SV and SL trims. It supplies partitioned separation of cargo and a place to hide away important stuff such as a purse or a laptop.

Nissan equips the Rogue Sport with full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, air conditioning, LED interior lighting, an overhead sunglasses storage compartment, and a cargo cover. Among the upgrades are heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, push-button ignition, dual illuminated visor vanity mirrors, and a power driver’s seat with lumbar support.




Safety and Technology

This year, Nissan extended its Safety Shield 360 driver-assist bundle to the base S trim. This means every Rogue Sport comes with a full suite of features, including high beam assist, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear automatic braking.

Also available is ProPilot Assist, which represents Nissan’s foray into semi-autonomous driving. This technology goes beyond adaptive cruise control by keeping the vehicle centered in its lane and bringing it to a full stop when activated. You’re not supposed to remove your hands from the steering wheel, but if you ease your hands away from the wheel surface momentarily, the activated ProPilot system essentially takes over, guiding the Rogue Sport down clearly marked roads. It is standard on the SL and wrapped with a Technology Package on the SV. We like the system and can see where the tech will lead to greater autonomy later.

On the tech front, the Rogue Sport comes with a 7-inch touch-screen display, a four-speaker audio system with a CD player, Bluetooth, satellite radio, one USB port, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility. Move up to the SV and the audio system adds two speakers. Head to the SL and the Rogue Sport adds navigation and a surround-view monitor. An SL Technology Package ($2,280) adds such features as a moonroof and a 9-speaker Bose audio system.



On the Road

The Rogue Sport won’t ever receive recognition for its robust performance for the simple reason it doesn’t exist. Instead, this small crossover offers steady acceleration and fair passing power, the latter typically accompanied by loud engine noise. That’s because this model’s 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission, which is more efficient than the standard geared transmission, but forces the engine’s RPMs higher and sustains them longer than the typical transmission. We’ve driven plenty of cars with CVTs and the “pulling” feeling is always there, even with tuned to ease up on the pressure under full throttle.

As for engine output, this one delivers 141 horsepower and 147 pound-feet of torque. That’s less power than the typical compact crossover, but more than what most subcompacts offer. In other words, the Rogue Sport fills the white space between the Kicks in Rogue in performance as well as in size. We think most buyers will be happy with the standard 17-inch wheels and the decent ride comfort that goes with it. Unlike the Kicks, you do have the option of all-wheel drive, which adds a slight amount of grip to the rear tires under wet or twisty road conditions.

At least the Rogue Sport’s fuel economy is decent enough to set it apart as it delivers an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway for a combined 28 mpg (27 mpg with all-wheel drive).

Competitive Set

As the Rogue Sport sits between two categories, it can be compared with a wide selection of small SUVs. It is similar in size to the front-wheel-drive-only Toyota C-HR, but is larger than the Honda HR-V. Other models to consider include the Chevrolet Trax, Ford EcoSport, Mazda CX-3, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Kia Seltos, Hyundai Venue, Subaru Crosstrek, and the Kia Soul.



Our Recommendation


We think the SV trim with the optional Technology Package ($2,580) is the best value. That package includes remote engine start, fog lights, imitation leather seats, heated front seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, an electronic parking brake, and the ProPilot Assist system. Your price comes in at $28,575 and that’s about $1,500 less than the SV. As for upgrading to all-wheel drive, we recommend this option for anyone living in a snowy climate. Separately, you’ll want to invest in winter tires as well.


2020 Nissan Rogue Sport Specifications


Nissan 2020 Rogue Sport
Segment Small SUV
Price Range From $23,430
Destination Charge $1,095
Standard Engine 2.0-liter, I4
Horsepower 141 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 147 lb.-ft. @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission Continuously Variable Automatic
Seating 5
Curb Weight (pounds) 3,261 to 3,446
Wheelbase (inches) 104.2
Length (inches) 172.4
Width (inches) 72.3
Height (inches) 62.5 or 63.4
Headroom (f,r…inches) 39.6, 38.3
Legroom (f,r…inches) 42.8, 33.4
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) 56.6, 55.7
Hip room (f,r…inches) 53.4, 46.9
Storage (cubic feet) 22.9, 61.1
Gross vehicle weight (pounds) 4,340 to 4,455
Towing (pounds) NR
Payload (pounds) NR
Fuel regular
Fuel Tank (gallons) 14.5
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined) 24/30/27(AWD); 25/32/28(FWD)
Manufacturing Plant Kyushu, Japan

Data compiled by Tom Keegan. Specifications supplied by the manufacturer.


See AlsoRogue Sport Delivers a Difference for Nissan

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Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.