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2018 Nissan Rogue Sport: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2018

Sharing much of its DNA with the hot-selling Nissan Rogue, the 2018 Nissan Rogue Sport shrinks its footprint and price to create a very stylish, very sporty subcompact crossover. As with its big brother, the Rogue Sport isn't big on power, but what it lacks in muscle it more than makes up for in efficiency, ease of maneuverability and features. And the Rogue Sport is not alone in this quickly growing field, with names such as Mazda CX-3, Chevrolet Trax, Fiat 500X and Honda HR-V all vying for a piece of the tiny crossover market.

At the end of the day, the Rogue Sport presents as a small CUV with average performance within its segment but offering a compelling array of available safety, driver-assist and connectivity technologies. In other words, it checks all the boxes Nissan believes will be important to drivers over the next several years.

What's New for 2018

Other than some minor content shuffling for the SV and SL trims, the 2018 Rogue Sport carries over largely unchanged.

What We Like

Comfy cabin; easy to park; loads of technology; decent cargo space; better-than-expected handling

What We Don't

Unhurried acceleration; continuously variable transmission (CVT); middle-of-the-pack fuel economy, full range of safety/driver-assist features only available on top trim level

How Much?

$22,615-$30,225

Fuel Economy

Nissan isn't alone in sacrificing acceleration for fuel economy -- that just may be the most common trait among today's crop of small CUVs. Small-displacement four-bangers hitched to CVTs or automatic transmissions with more than six forward gears are spreading like the flu in a crowded airplane.

In the case of the Rogue Sport, it's a 141-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine bolted to a CVT. No matter the trim level nor the number of drive wheels, the Rogue Sport tips the scales at more than 3,300 pounds. That's a lot of mass for this fuel-stingy powertrain to get rolling. Don't expect neck-snapping acceleration. Nissan has gone all-in on CVTs. And, truth be told, it probably does CVTs better than any other carmaker. No matter -- we still find them somewhat annoying and tire of the constant engine roar as the CVT rushes to catch up to throttle input.

The reward reaped by the 4-cylinder/CVT partnership is decent mileage. It's not segment-leading, but neither will it send an environmentalist into convulsions. The government rates front-wheel-drive (FWD) versions at 25 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. You can add all-wheel drive (AWD) to any Rogue Sport for $1,350. Doing so will drop the estimated mileage to 24 mpg city/30 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

Nissan offers the 2018 Nissan Rogue Sport in three grades: S, SV and SL.

The S ($22,615) comes right out of the box with 16-inch steel wheels, easy-fill tire alert, outboard power mirrors, cruise control, cloth seats, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, power windows and door locks, air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, hands-free texting, a rearview camera and a 4-speaker audio system with satellite-radio capability and a 5-in display.

The SV ($24,215) adds 17-in aluminum-alloy wheels, roof rails, auto on/off headlights, outboard mirror-mounted turn indicators, a 6-way power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button ignition and two additional audio speakers. Options include heated outboard mirrors, fog lights, heated front seats, Nissan Connect with Navigation, Siri Eyes Free, a 360-degree around-view camera system, remote engine start, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

The SL ($27,265) comes with 19-in aluminum-alloy wheels and leather seating, as well as all the SV grade's standard and optional equipment, except for the blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Options include a power moonroof, LED headlights, high-beam assist, intelligent cruise control, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, lane-departure prevention and rear cross-traffic alert.

Safety

Neither the government nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have crash-tested the Rogue Sport. Every version comes with a rearview camera, six airbags and the LATCH child-seat system. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are available as options with the SV trim. Forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, lane-departure prevention and rear cross-traffic alert are all offered as options on the SL trim.

Behind the Wheel

We've driven the Rogue Sport on country roads, city streets and freeways. Because it targets urban and suburban drivers, it shines when slugging its way through crowded city streets. Here its higher seating position, maneuverability and comfortable interior minimize the stress of stop-and-go traffic. Its powertrain is better engineered for short sprints between traffic lights than half-mile gallops while merging onto a freeway or getting around slower traffic on a 2-lane country road.

Having recently whipped the Rogue Sport around the track at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas, we can tell you it handles better at speed than you might expect. In the turns, it's relatively stable for a CUV.

No one will mistake its cabin for a luxury nameplate, but the materials are good-quality and the workmanship above average. Despite its size (about a foot shorter than Rogue), it still has enough cargo space for the typical chores facing the singles and couples at which it's aimed.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Honda HR-V -- As the vehicle most often mentioned when a Nissan exec is asked for examples of competitors, the HR-V is furnished for five and posts marginally better fuel-economy numbers than the Rogue Sport.

2018 Jeep Compass -- The Compass offers a bit more power and more powertrain options than the Rogue Sport, but it also costs a bit more. The Trailhawk trim can tackle modest off-road conditions unattainable by the Rogue Sport.

2018 Mazda CX-5 -- A bit larger than the Rogue Sport, the CX-5 delivers about the same fuel economy regardless of which 4-cylinder engine powers it. Mazda's sporty attitude certainly invades every nook and cranny of this CUV. And it looks good to boot.

2018 Toyota C-HR -- Although the heavy-handed styling of this all-new CUV seems closer to the Juke than the Rogue Sport, in most other respects it's in the Rogue Sport's league. The C-HR also comes standard with collision warning, auto high beams and adaptive cruise control.

Used Honda CR-V -- A 2014-2016 Honda CR-V provides more interior room and power in a very reliable crossover with excellent resale values.

Autotrader's Advice

Unless you must have the full suite of safety/driver-assist systems, the Nissan Rogue Sport SV is the way we would go. We would opt for the Technology package, which adds heated seats and mirrors, surround cameras, navigation, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert; but otherwise, the SV is nicely equipped.

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New 2018 Nissan Rogue Sport SV
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Nissan Rogue Sport: New Car Review - Autotrader