Pro: Attractive, Updated Styling
The Rogue Sport is a good-looking machine. An aggressive V-Motion front grille and angular headlights with standard LED accents give the small Nissan a cute little punim, like a puppy desperate to prove it’s as tough as the big dogs.
Bulging wheel arches and a nicely updated tail section make the Rogue Sport look far more modern than its 2014-era bones would suggest. Our top-level SL tester boasted sophisticated 19-inch wheels that lent it a planted stance. Like many new Nissan products, the handsome crossover warrants a look over your shoulder as you walk away, particularly compared to some of its lozenge-shaped competitors.
Pro: Strong Safety Quotient
Automatic emergency braking and lane departure prevention are standard on every Rogue Sport trim level. Our SL also comes standard with Nissan’s sophisticated ProPilot Assist technology, which includes lane-centering and adaptive cruise control that can even handle stop-and-go traffic.
Neither technology is semi-autonomous, so you need to keep your hands on the wheel at all times. However, if the CUV detects no driver involvement even after escalating warnings (for example, in the case of a medical emergency), it will bring the Rogue Sport to a complete stop in its lane. Not every driver-assist system will do the same.
Pro: Versatile Interior
The Nissan Rogue Sport may be down on overall cargo room compared to the larger Rogue, but it’s still got a few tricks up its sleeve. Divide-N-Hide panels found in the cargo bay separate the luggage area vertically and horizontally, keeping dirty items and groceries separate or allowing for tiered loading. The split-folding 60/40 rear seats open up to a maximum of 53.3 cubic feet of cargo room, far more than the smaller Kicks’ 32.3 cubes (though the entry-level Nissan has more seats-up room at 25.3 versus 19.9).
There are a few thoughtful amenities peppered elsewhere inside, like side-by-side cupholders up front, a rear center armrest, a large center console, and a nicely shaped tray in front of the shifter. For a compact SUV, the Rogue Sport uses its space well.
Con: Bland Driving Dynamics
A continuously variable transmission and naturally aspirated inline-four are no one’s idea of a good time, so our expectations from the Rogue Sport were reasonably low in terms of driving fun. Even so, the small SUV was the dynamic equivalent of unflavored oatmeal – something that does the job with zero excitement whatsoever.
The fully independent suspension absorbs bumps and dispatches city corners just fine. But while the Rogue Sport drives like lukewarm porridge most of the time, torque steer arrives just to spill it all over the driver’s lap. One would think the drivetrain could handle the 141 horsepower and 147 pound-feet on tap, but even at highway speeds, prodding the accelerator results in a palpable battle between the drive wheels.
Con: Middling Interior Space
Yes, we know we praised the Rogue Sport and its Divide-N-Hide cargo management system, but unfortunately, the space it, erm, divides isn’t very large in the first place. Against the Hyundai Kona (45.8 cubic feet) and Mazda CX-30 (45.2 cubic feet), the Rogue Sport comes out on top in max cargo ratings. But both the Honda HR-V (58.8 cubic feet) and CR-V (75.8 cubic feet) beat it, as do the Jeep Compass (59.8 cubic feet) and Hyundai Tucson (61.9 cubic feet).
The rear seat is likewise "meh" in terms of space. With the front seats set for a 6-foot-1 driver and passenger, there’s not much room for second-row passengers’ knees, and headroom is at a premium thanks to the optional sliding moonroof. We’ll concede here, though, that all of the Rogue Sport’s seating positions offer good support and comfort, if not an overwhelming amount of space.
Con: Steep Cost of Entry
Our front-wheel-drive Nissan Rogue Sport SL tester carries an MSRP of $32,510, up from a base sticker price of $28,450 for the SL and $23,240 for the base Rogue Sport S. Our well-equipped SUV’s $2,280 Premium package brought along full LED headlights, a moonroof, Bose audio, power front seats with driver memory, and more, but that’s still a hefty price for something of its size. For comparison, the Hyundai Kona Ultimate ($29,090) and Tucson Ultimate ($33,040) are similarly priced but offer either more space or better efficiency. And the smaller-outside/bigger-inside Honda HR-V can be had in top-spec form – with all-wheel drive – for $30,010.
Nissan’s pricing structure doesn’t even make much sense within its own showrooms. The larger Rogue SL costs only a bit more, at $32,785 with destination fees, while the top-spec Kicks SR is substantially cheaper at $22,215 – even less than the spartan Rogue Sport S. We have a hard time imagining the sort of customer whose budget allows for a Sport but not a Rogue, nor do we see a compelling reason to pay at least $4,000 more when comparing an equivalent Kicks.