MM Full-Review: 2019 Nissan Rogue Sport SV

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A Review of the 2019 Nissan Rogue Sport.

https://www.nissanusa.com/vehicles/c...gue-sport.html

IN A NUTSHELL: It is popular for a reason.


CLOSEST AMERICAN-MARKET COMPETITORS:


The Rogue Sport is a fairly unusual size in the small SUV/CUV category, and doesn't seem to have many direct competitors, both size and price-wise. Most of the crossover vehicles in this category are either smaller or larger than the Rogue Sport, though, from what I can tell, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and Chevrolet Trax come closest.























Image result for 2019 nissan rogue sport rear seat








OVERVIEW:


Small crossover SUVs/CUVs have all but taken over a very large part of the auto-business these days. Though I'm generally not one of their target customers (I tend to prefer larger, lower sedans), nevertheless, it's easy so see why these vehicles are so popular. They offer easy, seat-height entry/exit, all-weather capability (with AWD), a fair amount of passenger room and cargo space inside if traditionally square-styled, a lift-back for easy cargo-loading, the somewhat elevated seating/driving position that a lot of people want, and adequate ground clearance for snow and to avoiding scraping on those pesky speed bumps and concrete parking-stops.


And, in my area, (Northern Virginia / D.C. suburbs), true to form, vehicle-buyers buy or lease them like their lives depended on it. While it is true that virtually everything on wheels sells in this area because of the prosperous/stable/recession-resistant economy, large amounts of cash available for new-vehicle purchases, widespread dealer network to have access to almost any brand, and low interest-rates for those who not do cash purchases, not everyone wants a large and/or expensive vehicle. The sheer vast amount of traffic, endless construction, and ever-crowded lots/malls make large vehicles relatively difficult to maneuver and park, and many buyers like the relatively small footprint these vehicles take up. I did a recent write-up, for example, on how enormously popular small Subarus have become in this area and across some parts of the U.S.


Subies, however, are not the only popular vehicles of this type. The ever-popular Toyota RAV-4 (with the Honda CR-V not much further behind) outsells everything but the most poplar full-size pickup trucks. Lately, the Nissan Rogue has also done quite well, partly because it had a lower starting price than either the RAV-4 or CR-V, and a number of buyers took advantage of that, though that once-advantage in price has all but disappeared on the latest version of the Rogue.


But, to compensate somewhat for the fact that Rogues no longer one-up the RAV-4 and CR-V in base price (in fact, the base CR-V actually undercuts the base Rogue now), Nissan has an ace up its sleeve...the Rogue Sport. It is slightly smaller than the Rogue itself, about 3K or so less in price, and (seemingly) is just about the perfect size for a number of buyers. It fits in, more or less, between the subcompact (B-class) crossovers like the Honda HR-V / Mazda CX-3 / Toyota C-HR and the compact (C-class) RAV-4, CR-V, Rogue, etc...Several of my condo-neighbors own either Rogues or Rogue Sports, and seem quite pleased with them, even though Renault ownership of Nissan and Infiniti has tended to lower the quality and reliability of some of their products.


In the U.S. market, The Rogue Sport is offered in three different trim-versions.....S ($22,340), SV ($24,140), and SL ($28,060). All come with a normally aspirated 2.0L in-line four of 141 HP and 147 ft-lbs. of torque, a CVT with manual-shift mode, and choice of FWD or AWD. I like the fact that Nissan offers even the S version with AWD...some manufacturers won't sell it on the base version, and allow you to get it only on upper-line trims (spending more money, of course). However, this is not very much torque for the added weight and drag or AWD, and I suspected sluggish performance like on some low-powered Subarus.


As usual, I looked over a couple of different versions, but, for the money, I thought the mid-line SV version was probably the best value for the money, as it offers a goodly number of features at a moderate price. It also comes with nice tall 60-series tires, which would probably give it a smoother ride than the larger/upmarket wheels and low-profile tires on the top-level SL version. So, I concentrated most of the review on the SV AWD version.


There are a lot of comments, both in Consumer Reports, the auto press, and in forums about recent Nissan products being poorly-built, mainly due to Renault (French) ownership. I did not think the Rogue Sport was poorly-built at all...it seemed to have solid construction, good materials, and good fit/finish inside and out....at least in my static-inspection as a brand-new vehicle. It is no luxury vehicle, of course, but, for the price, it is not intended to be one.



MODEL REVIEWED: 2019 Nissan Rogue Sport SV AWD


BASE PRICE: $25,490


MAJOR OPTIONS:


All-Weather Package: $920


DESTINATION/FREIGHT: $1045 (a little steep for a vehicle this size)


LIST PRICE AS REVIEWED: $27,455


DRIVETRAIN: AWD, Transversely-Mounted 2.0L in-line normally-aspirated four, 141 HP @ 6000 RPM, Torque 147 Ft-lbs. @ 4400 RPM, CVT (Continuously-Variable Transmission) with manual-shift mode.



EPA MILEAGE RATING: 24 City, 30 Highway, 27 Combined



EXTERIOR COLOR: Gun (Gray) Metallic.


INTERIOR: Black Cloth




PLUSSES:


Relatively good road manners with 60-series tires.


Lots of features for the money.


Excellent underhood layout.


Clear, easy-to-read gauges.


Relatively simple-to-use controls.


Solid construction, at least when new.


Comfortable cloth seats.


Decent headroom, front and rear, without sunroof.


Good stereo sound quality.


Well-equipped cargo area.


Fits relatively easy in small parking spaces.


Relatively god outward vision...but could be better.


Widespread dealer network.





MINUSES:


Numb steering feel.


Extremely heavy hood to lift....and manual prop-rod.


Cheap-looking power widow switches.


Cheap-feeling sun visors.


SV version lacks paddle-shifters.....must bump the lever for manual shifts.


Ho-Hum paint color choice.


History of Nissan CVT reliability problems.


Nissan dealerships have relatively low customer satisfaction.
(I also have not been impressed with some of the ones I've seen)





EXTERIOR:

Outside, the exterior, particularly in the front end, is styled like most of the other crossover Nissan car-based SUVs (excluding the full-sized truck-based Armada), though the rear styling, due to the shortened length, is somewhat different. As stated above, it occupies a rather unique and unusual size/dimensions, slotted in-between the subcompact Nissan Kicks and the compact-sized Rogue....the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport probably comes closest to the actual concept. The Rogue Sport, though, seemed to be more solidly-constructed on the exterior than the Outlander Sport. All four doors and the hatch shut with a substantial thunk, and the sheet metal, unusual among today's vehicles, seemed to avoid the tin-can feel so prevalent today. In fact, they may (?) have even overdone it on the hood.....more on that below. There was the usual (for crossover SUVs) black cladding around the vehicle, on the lower part of the body, to protect the paint from road debris. The paint job was not Lexus or Audi-slick, but reasonably well-done, though most of the paint colors were the usual Ho-Hum black/silver/gray/dark-blue/dark-red that seems to be the rage today. As mentioned before, the vehicle seems to easily fit in a lot of smaller parking spaces, perhaps one measure of its popularity.


UNDERHOOD:

Opening the hood rewards one with a excellent underhood layout/engine-fit, but lifting the hood requires WWE-grade strength. It weighs a ton..they apparently used heavy-gauge sheet steel and a fair amount of insulation with it. And, of course, no hold-up struts...you fumble with a manual-rod. This hood was heavy enough that I was concerned about it putting strain, through my arms, on my chest area, where doctors, years ago, had wired my rib-cage together after heart-surgery. Seems to be OK, though.


Anyhow, once getting past THAT.....the reward is an excellent underhood layout itself....one of the best I've seen. The transversely-mounted 2.0L in-line four fits into the compartment with substantial room to spare on all sides for easy access to components. And, on top, most of the engine is easily-accessible, without a large cover on it. All of the dipsticks, filler-caps, and reservoir-containers are easy to access. This, IMO, is a model for the auto industry.....if more vehicles were designed like this under the hood, Technicians/Mechanics would spend less time screwing around trying to get to things, and repair/maintenance costs would be lower.....assuming, of course, that the shop doesn't charge standard book-rates for specific repairs/services.



INTERIOR:

The Rogue Sport's interior is not bad at all for the price, and is generally well-constructed with good materials. But there are a couple of exceptions, which reflect on the Sport's lower price compared to the regular series of Rogues. The Rogue has nicely-felted/fabric sun visors, while the Sport uses hard plastic. The Sport also has cheap-looking black-plastic window switches, with no texture at all on them...in fact, it's hard, at first glance, to tell them from their housings....they look like Paul Stanley's fingernails at a KISS concert LOL. But the rest of the interior is well-done for the price. The black cloth seats on my test car were comfortable, reasonably reasonably well-padded, and the contours fit my torso and legs almost perfectly (here's where French ownership of Nissan may pay off, as the French have always demanded comfortable seats). The twin round primary gauges were clear, well-designed, and easy to read. The steering wheel was a handsome three-spoke with a nicely-wrapped rim and brushed-metal trim on the spokes. There is good headroom, both in front and rear, from not having a sunroof housing. Legroom in the rear is not limo-like, but reasonably good for a vehicle this size, depending on where you have the front seat adjusted. Most of the materials inside were of high quality, though the shiny black dash-trim, IMO, would have looked better if they had used wood-tone or aluminum instead. The upper-dash is padded, as are large parts of the door panels and arm rests. The video/infotainment screen pleasantly avoids the vertically-tacked-on, Etch-a Sketch look of so many vehicles today....it is neatly recessed into the middle of the dash. The stereo sound quality was quite good, specially for something in this class.


I've been requested, from previous reviews and write-ups, to start listing more of what the vehicle's infotainment systems include, so, I'll start doing so here. With the SV model, you get Sirius XM radio for three months free (you subscribe after that), Radio-Data-System, MP3/WMA CD playback, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Voice Recognition for the NAV/Audio (with the Tech package), Nissan-Connect-7 touch-screen display, and (again with the Tech Package), Nissan's Door-to-Door Nav system/Premium Traffic and an overhead view / 360-degree surround camera. SL models, of course, include a few additional (or substitute) items, such as a Bose Premium Audio system, and the items on the SV's optional Tech Package are standard.




CARGO COMPARTMENT/TRUNK:


Due to its smaller size in back, there is not quite as much cargo space as in the Rogue, but that is to be expected. You also lift the hatch manually (no power option is offered). The cargo area itself is not particularly well-trimmed, but uses excellent, durable-feeling materials on both the floor and sidewalls. A nice, well-made cargo-cover is included to help hide cargo from prying eyes.....a number of SUVs skimp on this feature, even in their higher-trim models. There are six tie-down hooks for cargo. The floor board is split into two halves, front and rear.....Nissan calls it the "Divide and Hide" feature. The rear panel, which is removable, is stored in clever slot-holders built into the main floor-hardware. Under the rear panel, when removed, is an additional storage area. Underneath that, and another pull-outboard, is the temporary spare tire. The rear seats, of course, fold down to expand the cargo area if needed.



ON THE ROAD:


Start up the non-turbo four with a nice, conveniently-located button, and the engine comes to life with reasonably good smoothness and refinement for an in-line four. This engine is no powerhouse by any means, and the weight / drag of the AWD system, even with the efficient CVT, does tap into the acceleration somewhat. But, unless you are a speed freak, it should be adequate for most normal driving.....and the type of stop and go / suburban driving that most of these vehicles are purchased or leased for. The CVT transmission, lacking a separate starter-gear, is not quite as advanced as the one I sampled last week on the new 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE....and I suspect that use of that separate/starter-gear will speed to other manufacturers with time, at least with gasoline engines. As I understand it, Nissan and Subaru currently get their CVTs from the same supplier, so it is not surprising that they share some of the same characteristics. This one had reasonably good road manners, though, and though not entirely absent, I did not notice a lot of motorboat or rubber-banding effect from it. The SV, though, does not include the convenient shift-paddes, so, to manually change the "gear" ratio (which, of course, in a CVT, is actually a pre-programmed position for the drive-belt) one must slide the shift-lever sideways into the Sport position and bump it forward or back a notch. At least the lever avoids the zig-zag pattern that I (and some other reviewers) find annoying.


The chassis/underpinings were generally well done for a vehicle of this type, though I didn't particularly care for the electric power-steering feel, which had all the feedback of the novocaine a dentist uses. But the steering response was reasonably quick, and body roll was generally kept in check unless you pushed it. Wind noise was well-controlled, as was road noise....the non-sporting tires seemed to help with the generally low level of road noise, though it was not luxury-car quiet. The tires, on my test-vehicle, were pumped up several pounds over recommended PSI. The sun, in a cloudless sky with the temperature in the 80s, had been beating down on them for several hours, so I don't know if if it was the sun that pumped them up (black rubber in the tires absorbs the sun's rays very quickly, and the air inside the tires expands), or, as is often the case, the PDI guys at the dealership that just didn't do their job and adjust the tire-pressures when the vehicles come off the transporter (What do you expect, I guess, for the meager salaries they make?). For that reason, I didn't adjust the PSIs myself. Anyway, the ride comfort, under those conditions, was probably a little firmer than it would have been with correct PSIs..but still, taking that into consideration, not bad at all. You could tell, apart from the tires, that the basic suspension itself was not firm, and generally compliant over most bumps. The brakes were generally effective, and the brake and gas pedals (though not perfectly-located) were generally located well enough that my big size-15 shoe didn't have any big problems snagging on the rim of the brake pedal when lifting off the gas.




THE VERDICT:

Good job, Nissan. Though no luxury vehicle by any means, it's easy to see why the Rogue Sport sells as well as it does, particularly in my area. It does, of course, occupy a more or less unique size SUV/crossover class shared by (from what I can tell) only the Chevy Trax and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport...and Mitsubishi, with a very sparse dealer network (unlike Nissan's), is hanging onto the American market by just a thread. The Rogue Sport is reasonably well-built, uses mostly decent materials, drives well (or at least as well as most small SUVs), and won't break the bank-accounts of many potential buyers or leasees.


However, if I were designing this vehicle, I'd also deal with a few issues on the next update. Toss the Hulk-Hogan hood and get one easier to lift...maybe from aluminum, especially if the manual prop-rod is retained. Use power window switches that are easier to spot and not an insult to one's eyes. Give the paint some rainbow color choices instead of mostly funeral-home shades. And consider an extended warranty for the CVTs......Nissan's CVT's, in the past, have had some unreliability issues, and only time will tell if the latest ones will last longer.

And, as Always......Happy Car-Shopping.


MM
 
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Ian Schmidt

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I see a ton of these on the road, in much the same way that 5 years ago every 3rd CUV that wasn't an RX was seemingly an Acura RDX or MDX.
 

mmcartalk

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I see a ton of these on the road, in much the same way that 5 years ago every 3rd CUV that wasn't an RX was seemingly an Acura RDX or MDX.

The RDX, MDX, and RX, though, all three represent a substantially larger and more expensive SUV class than a Rogue Sport. The MDX and RX represent a D-class (mid-size) crossover; the RDX, like the Rogue, a C-class (compact) crossover; and the Rogue Sport is somewhere between B-class (subcompact) and C-class compact. Acura and Lexus, of course, are also higher-priced brands than Nissan.
 

Ian Schmidt

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Right, the CUV craze started in mid-size and has gradually extended downwards, like the RX to NX to UX progression.
 
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