Looking like a 3-quarter version of the hot-selling Nissan Rogue, the 2019 Nissan Rogue Sport delivers the same visual punch and robust feature set, but for less money and with a smaller footprint. The Rogue Sport is classified as a subcompact, although it is bigger than the new Nissan Kicks, the Mazda CX-3 or the Hyundai Kona, and more inline with the Honda HR-V and the Toyota C-HR. Powered by a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine, the Rogue Sport isn’t terribly quick, but it does handle nicely and its fuel economy is near best in class.
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 2019
For 2019, the Rogue Sport now offers Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 and ProPilot Assist. Safety Shield 360 includes advanced driver-assist features like rear automatic braking, blind spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist, while ProPilot Assist can help a driver stay in their lane, keep a safe distance from the car ahead and even bring the vehicle to a complete stop. New standard features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Nissan’s Rear Door Alert. A Bose audio system is now standard on the SL trim.
What We Like
Comfy cabin; easy to park; loads of technology; decent cargo space; better-than-expected handling; available driver assists
What We Don’t
Unhurried acceleration; continuously variable transmission (CVT); middle-of-the-pack fuel economy; small back seat
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 4-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 2019 Nissan Rogue Sport in three grades: S, SV and SL.
The S ($23,235 FWD), ($24,585, AWD) comes right out of the box with 16-in 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 7-in display hosting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Standard driver-assist features include Rear Door Alert (alerts the driver to check the rear seat before leaving the car), automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
The SV ($25,035, FWD), ($26,385, AWD) 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. Safety Shield 360 adds emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and intervention, rear automatic braking and auto high beam control. Optional packages include the All Weather package that brings heated front seats, heated side mirrors, a heated steering wheel and remote start with Intelligent Climate Control. The SV Technology package adds the contents of the All Weather package plus navigation, an Intelligent Around View Monitor and ProPilot Assist (adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and an electronic parking brake).
The SL ($28,955, FWD), ($30,305) comes with 19-in aluminum-alloy wheels and leather seating, as well as all the SV grade’s standard and optional equipment, plus Bose audio. Options for the SL include a power moonroof, LED headlights and an auto-dimming mirror with Homelink.
Every version comes with a rearview camera, six airbags and the LATCH child-seat system, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Forward-emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, lane-departure prevention and rear automatic braking are offered by trim.
In government crash testing, the 2019 Rogue Sport scored four out of five stars, with a four-star rating in the frontal and roof strength tests, and five stars in the side impact test. The Independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not yet fully tested the Rogue Sport.
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 two-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
2019 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.
2019 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.
2019 Mazda CX-5 — A bit larger than the Rogue Sport, the CX-5 delivers about the same fuel economy and now offers a turbocharged engine. Mazda’s sporty attitude certainly invades every nook and cranny of this CUV. And it looks good to boot.
2019 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.
Giving you the full suite of safety/driver-assist systems, the Nissan Rogue Sport SV with the Technology package would be our choice. However, if you’re an audiophile or sun lover, the SL’s Bose stereo and available moonroof is worth the extra cost.