Nissan to launch new Rogue Sport SUV in U.S.

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News
The Rogue Sport, left, has a 2.3-inch shorter wheelbase and is 12.1 inches shorter overall than Rogue, right, helping make it more maneuverable in city traffic and an ideal size for tight city parking spaces.

Nissan Motor Co. is expanding its SUV lineup in the U.S. with the compact 2017 Rogue Sport.

The vehicle debuting Monday at the Detroit auto show is 12.1 inches shorter overall than the existing compact Rogue, and its wheelbase 2.3 inches shorter. Nissan says that will make the Rogue Sport easier to park and maneuver in cities.

Nissan said the compact crossover segment is "on fire" and expected to grow, which led the carmaker to decide to bring the Rogue Sport to the U.S. market.

Michael Bunce, vice president of product planning for Nissan North America Inc., said the automaker doesn't expect the Rogue and Rogue Sport will confuse customers.

"They’ll separate themselves primarily based on customer need,” he said. “Rogue Sport will be ideal for singles, for couples without kids and empty-nesters who want a smaller vehicle and can live with a little bit less cargo space.”

Nissan will showcase the Rogue Sport during a news conference at the North American International Auto Show. The original Rogue debuted at the Detroit auto show in 2007 and went on sale later that year as a 2008 model.

Nissan’s SUV lineup also includes the subcompact Juke, midsize Murano and Pathfinder, and the full-size Armada.

The Rogue is Nissan’s top selling nameplate, last year surpassing the Altima sedan for the top spot. U.S. Rogue sales in 2016 hit 329,904, up 14.9 percent from 2015. The Rogue was the fastest growing nameplate in the U.S. industry for two straight years.

With similar looks to the Rogue, Rogue Sport is based off the Nissan Qashquai model sold in other regions of the globe. But the SUV, which is larger than a subcompact Honda HR-V, has been modified for the U.S. market and has a different engine and transmission and interior features, a Nissan spokesman said.

The carmaker said the decision to add the Rogue Sport in the U.S.was made before 2016 as it saw some customers leaving the brand for smaller SUVs.

IHS Markit expects the Rogue Sport could sell in the mid- 70,000 range annually.

The 5-passenger Rogue Sport interior is designed to keep up with owners’ active lifestyles. It has the commanding ride height of a compact SUV combined with a driver-oriented cockpit that provides a sporty, fun-to-drive feel.

“The Rogue Sport should complement the Nissan CUV lineup,” IHS Markit senior analyst Stephanie Brinley said. “Cannibalization is a risk, though the brand also risks losing customers who would prefer a two-row utility vehicle. The current Rogue is larger and more expensive than the prior car, leaving an opening Nissan can take advantage of.”

The five-passenger Rogue Sport, which features a sporty grille, has a 2-liter four-cylinder engine generating 141 horsepower and 147 foot-pounds of torque. It will be available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Rogue Sport will be available in the S, SV and SL trim levels. Numerous technologies are available on Rogue Sport including blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, forward emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-departure prevention and forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection.

Pricing and fuel economy information is not yet available. The 2017 Rogue starts at $23,820, plus destination fee.

Rogue, which was refreshed for the 2017 model year, has fuel economy ratings of 26 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg highway. Nissan also has launched a new Rogue gasoline-electric hybrid model with improved fuel efficiency.

The Rogue Sport will be built in Kyushu, Japan.

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