By Peter Perrotta
Every car manufacturer has its bread and butter model. Its anchor, so to speak, that kind of carries the load for the rest of the lineup.
For Toyota, it’s long been the Corolla. The popular Civic has carried the load for Honda for many years, as well.
Nissan, the third of the Big Three Japanese importers, looks to its sales leader, the Rouge SUV these days, to carry the ball in their showrooms.
In an attempt to piggyback on the popularity of the Rouge, three years ago Nissan introduced a mini-Rogue of sorts and called it the Nissan Rogue Sport – it’s classified as a subcompact SUV that stands a full 13-inches shorter than the full size Rogue (at 172 inches) and three inches shorter (at 63 inches).
Nissan sandwiched this model into its lineup for people who were looking for something a bit bigger than the Kicks, but not quite as big as the Rogue. Hence, they call the Rogue Sport a “’tweener”.
I recently road tested the 2019 Nissan Rogue Sport SL AWD for one week to see how this ‘tweener matches up against its big brother and similar vehicles in its class.
There is a lot to like on the Rogue Sport. It is quite stylish with a curvy, aerodynamic stance in the front, back, with a nice side profile as well. It looks exactly like a mini-Rogue.
It has a crisp solid ride, takes bumps well and has a fairly noiseless cabin. The steering is spot on with precision like accuracy. Its interior design is smart and modern looking and its controls are not hard to navigate.
However, if you are looking for the Nissan Rogue Sport to offer up a sporty ride or some type of performance ride, you won’t find it here, folks.
For some reason, the design folks at Nissan decided to power this Rogue Sport with a 2.0 liter direct overhead cam, 16 valve, four cylinder engine that struggles to put out 141 horsepower and 147 pound feet of torque.
When you combine that engine with the non-shifting, continuously variable transmission (CVT), it makes for an adequate ride, but really, nothing to write home about.
That being said, since, everyone has his or her own driving style, there is room in the marketplace for this vehicle to be successful.
My wife, who owns a Nissan Altima, would be perfectly comfortable driving this car. She has a conservative driving style, rarely, if ever, performs any aggressive maneuvers and always goes exactly what the speed limit says.
I, on the other hand, am always looking to push the envelope a bit more and enjoy putting a car through its paces. This is not a vehicle that responds well to that test.
In comparison, in case you were wondering, the full size Rogue comes standard with a 2.5 liter, four cylinder engine that puts out a more robust 170 horsepower.
For what its worth, my suggestion is for Nissan to put a blower – or turbo – in the Rogue Sport engine to give it that little extra power push it needs.
Nissan offers up the Rogue Sport in three models: the entry level S at a base price of $23,285; the SV ($25,085) and the top of the line SL, with a base price of $29,310.
Each model is offered in front wheel or all wheel drive variations. My tester was the AWD SL that carried a bottom line sticker price of $33,020.
Added options to my tester included: $395 for premium paint (Scarlet Ember); $280 for carpeted floor mats with cargo area protector and a first aid kit; $1,990 for a Premium Package and $1,045 for destination and delivery.
The Premium Package includes a power sliding moonroof, LED low and high beam headlights and an auto dimming inside mirror with a Homelink universal transceiver.
The EPA gas mileage ratings for the Rogue Sport are a reasonably impressive 27 miles per gallon overall – 30 mpg on the highway and 24 in city driving.
The EPA estimates that the Rogue Sport will cost about $1,400 a year, on average, to gas up. It uses an estimated 3.7 gallons of gas per every 100 miles driven.
The Rogue Sport SL AWD model has not been crash tested by the government’s 5-star safety rating test yet.
Some of the nicer amenities that come standard with the 2019 Rogue Sport SL AWD include: 8 way power driver seat, including two way lumbar support; 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels; a Bose premium audio system with nine speakers; Apple Car Play and Android Auto; a 7-inch color display screen with multi touch control and navigation; a heated leather wrapped steering wheel, and more.
Overall, the Nissan Rogue Sport has received fairly positive reviews from the general automotive press.
Consumer Reports says, “The engine is pleasant, but not overly powerful. The Sport handles responsively and rides in a refined manner, with cabin noise kept to reasonable levels. We like the easy to use controls and infotainment system.”
And, the folks at Car and Driver state, “It has an economical powertrain, soaks up bumps admirably and has a spacious and well designed cabin. It is competent, handsome and accommodating. This is one crossover you could bring home to meet your mother.”
So, the bottom line here is, if you are looking for a good all around sub-compact crossover SUV and are not looking for an aggressive sporty vehicle, you should give this model serious consideration in this class.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. Comments and suggestions are welcome. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.