Awards SUV of the Year

Nissan Rogue Sport: 2018 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contender

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We Like: Competent ride; cargo space

We Don’t Like: Weak engine; numb steering; poor off-road

It’s a tricky segment: Larger than a subcompact SUV and smaller than a compact but priced nearly on top of those same compacts. That’s the niche Nissan is seeking to fill with the city-friendly Rogue Sport.

Gordon Dickie described it as “a perfectly decent car for empty nesters who want to get away for the weekend.”

The Rogue Sport suffers from being underpowered, with a mere 141 hp underhood. Christian Seabaugh described the Rogue Sport’s acceleration as “like a boat … it confidently and capably saunters forward, gathering speed.” But it’s hardly quick, and the CVT moans like an old man getting up from his favorite reclining chair.

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The ride, with a planted chassis unperturbed by road crud or washboard, is excellent for an SUV of this size. Unfortunately, once off-road in our silty approximation of a snowdrift, the Rogue Sport ground to a halt—on several occasions with several drivers. Not a good sign. It also was plagued with numb steering feedback and suffers dynamically from “grinding understeer,” Frank Markus said.

Although Nissan cribbed interior bits from the upmarket Rogue, it still has too much plastic strewn about. It also lacks Apple CarPlay, and the infotainment screen is too small and carries an outdated interface. The back seat is an uncomfortable little cushion with insufficient thigh support and compromised knee- and foot room—although it offers two air-conditioning vents and two USB ports. Cargo space is wide and deep but not tall. The hatchback required an extra effort to close—tough when your arms are full of stuff. A fair effort but not a finalist.

Read about other 2018 SUV of the Year contenders:

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport SL AWD
BASE PRICE $28,395
PRICE AS TESTED $31,640
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.0L/141-hp/147-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,426 lb (59/41%)
WHEELBASE 104.2 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 172.4 x 72.3 x 63.3 in
0-60 MPH 9.8 sec
QUARTER MILE 17.5 sec @ 80.6 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 137 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.75 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 29.6 sec @ 0.53 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 24/30/27 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 140/112 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.74 lb/mile