Nissan Rogue Sport — Popular crossover refreshed

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(April 26, 2020) When Nissan introduced a new sub-compact crossover sport utility into the red-hot segment in 2017 it didn't come with a new catchy name. In what turned out to be a brilliant move Nissan married its new vehicle to the hot-selling Rogue compact crossover by calling it the Rogue Sport. And while the “junior” Rouge adopted most of its bigger brother's styling cues the Sport has become a success of its own in the competitive segment.

In its fourth year, Nissan has elevated the styling of the 2020 Rogue Sport with a new front and rear design, LED daytime running lamps, and a redesigned grille and hood that contribute to a much more chiseled look. Additionally, the Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite of driver-assistance technologies that was previously offered only on the SV and SL trim levels is now standard across the lineup. And to spice things up, Nissan is also offering a new 19-inch wheel design that takes its inspiration from its luxury cousin, the Infiniti QX50.

These updates are designed to keep the Rogue Sport fresh among a substantial number of competitors from mainstream automakers such as the Hyundai Kona, Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR and Mazda CX-30.

Nissan is specifically marketing the Rogue Sport to those in their mid-20s-30s, both singles and couples, without children, who — Nissan says — are outgoing, social, and prefer an urban lifestyle.
Nissan is looking for buyers who want out of their current small sedans. And the company says that most Rogue Sport buyers are new to Nissan.

The Rogue Sport so closely mimics the look of the larger Rogue that you practically need to park them side-by-side to discern the difference. But somehow, with the Sport being just a bit smaller, we think it looks better. Its 104.2-inch wheelbase is 2.3-inches shorter, and overall length is 12.1 inches shorter, making it easier to maneuver and park. At 172.4 inches long, it’s slightly bigger than the smallest subcompacts, but it’s more petite than compacts such as the 180.6-inch Honda CR-V.
The closest competitor in size to the Rogue Sport is the 173.0-inch Jeep Compass.

The Rouge Sport comes with just one engine choice, a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder making 141 horsepower and 147 pound-feet of torque mated to an Xtronic continuously variable automatic transmission. Therein lies our biggest complaint with a vehicle that we found very few things to complain about. It’s slow. But then so are other vehicles in this segment — figure about 9.5 seconds from 0-to-60. That said, we were pleasantly surprised by the direct-injected engine’s refinement displaying a lot less engine noise than most small four-bangers under hard acceleration.

In a combination of interstate driving, two-lane road hustling and running errands around town, we were never let down by the performance — even with four passengers or loaded up with cargo. The Sport got the job done and we must admit that it’s certainly not boring with pleasing driving dynamics not found in most sub-compacts. The suspension absorbs road imperfections, bumps and uneven road surfaces keeping the body in check. Steering is quick and brakes are excellent.

The 2020 Rogue Sport interior features updated trim, while combining a wide-open feeling with areas for personal space. Seating includes a standard 6-way adjustable driver's seat, 4-way adjustable front passenger seat, 22.9 cubic feet of storage behind the seats and 61.1 cubic feet with the seatbacks folded down. Fold-down rear seats split 60/40 with rear seat center armrest and rear seat heating/cooling center console vents.

Standard interior features in the 2020 Rogue Sport include SiriusXM Radio, 4-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system with auxiliary audio input jack, USB connection port for iPod interface and other compatible devices, Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System, Streaming Audio via Bluetooth, Hands-free Text Messaging Assistant (compatible smartphone required) and RearView Monitor.

The interior of our test vehicle had leather-appointed seats, soft coverings on the dash and upper door trim, Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, voice recognition, navigation and dual-zone automatic temperature control.

Safety is important and we applaud Nissan for making its safety package standard across the lineup. It includes Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Rear Automatic Braking, Lane Departure Warning, radar-based Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and High Beam Assist. We especially like the blind spot feature, which we think should be standard in every new car regardless of price.

The Rouge Sport comes in three trim levels — S, SV and SL — starting at $24,335 including $1,095 destination charge. Edmunds said that the current price is running nearly $3,000 less because of incentives and rebates.

We drove the top line SL all-wheel drive model with the premium package that includes power passenger seat, Bose audio system that includes subwoofer, power sliding moonroof, and HomeLink universal transceiver. Without incentives and rebates the bottom line was $33,570 including destination charge.

2020 Nissan Rogue Sport

Base price: $24,335; as driven, $33,570
Engine: 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 141 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 1437 foot-pounds @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission: continuously variable
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 104.2 inches
Length: 172.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,300 pounds
Turning circle: 36.9 feet
Luggage capacity: 22.9 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 61.1 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 14.5 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 24 city, 30 highway, 27 combined
0-60: 9.4 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Nissan Kicks

The Good
• Considerable standard safety
• Excellent rear-seat space
• Many high tech features

The Bad
• Noisy transmission

The Ugly
• Underpowered engine