Nissan’s bestselling vehicle in the United States is the Rogue, a compact crossover whose top strengths include an extra-roomy interior at an affordable price. But for buyers who prefer something even smaller or less expensive, Nissan has introduced the new 2017 Rogue Sport — “Sport” meaning “small.”
The Rogue Sport is a renamed version of the Nissan Qashqai, an unpronounceable vehicle that’s nonetheless been wildly popular in Europe. With Europeans preferring smaller vehicles, Nissan never saw fit to sell our Rogue there, but the company is optimistic that there’s room for its American lineup to grow. The Rogue Sport slots in size between the larger Rogue and the even smaller, quirkier Juke.
Many of the American market’s subcompact crossovers are quirky, in fact. The bestseller is the uniquely styled Kia Soul. Buyers can also choose the endearingly boxy Jeep Renegade, the small but sporty Fiat 500X or Mazda CX-3, and the borderline-bizarre new Toyota C-HR. Even the comparatively ordinary Honda HR-V has swoopy styling details.
In contrast, the Rogue Sport gives off more of the look and feel of a smaller Rogue. From many angles, in fact, you won’t even notice that it’s any smaller; most of the length is lost by lopping some cargo space off the back. The two models share similar styling: handsome but not head-turning. And the “sport” moniker doesn’t come with any attempt to make the Rogue Sport especially fun to drive — which does have the advantage of preserving an extra-smooth ride. However, to buy the Rogue Sport, you’d really have to be dedicated to minimizing either your crossover’s purchase price or its dimensions. While it does an admirable job of emulating its big brother, the larger Rogue is the superior vehicle in most respects.
The Rogue’s extra interior space pays off for the rear-seat passengers — even for a tiny available third-row seat — and for cargo room. The Rogue Sport is roomy for its class, but has barely half the cargo space of the Rogue Sport behind the rear seat.
Meanwhile, the Rogue Sport’s little 141-horsepower four-cylinder engine is peppy at low speeds but has less life as you drive harder. Furthermore, it even trails the 170-horsepower Rogue’s fuel efficiency with a middling EPA rating of 27 mpg as tested.
The Rogue Sport does have a price advantage. It starts at $22,380, which is a little more than most other subcompact crossovers but compares favorably to $25,570 for the Rogue. And no other subcompact crossover can match the Rogue Sport for its thorough mild-mannered competence.
But don’t buy one without shopping it against the larger Rogue and its leading competitors: the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Mazda CX- 5. And in the subcompact class, shop the Rogue Sport against two cheaper models: the Honda HR-V, which gets better gas mileage and has a little more interior room, yet which has a stiffer ride and worse crash-test performance; and the Chevrolet Trax, which has a more advanced infotainment system but less interior space.
If you’re buying the most expensive crossover on the market, you probably aren’t expecting any compromises. Accordingly, the new 2017 Bentley Bentayga — which starts at $231,825 — is built to amaze both on and off road.
On pavement, the Bentayga is rated for sports-car-like acceleration of 0 to 60 miles per hour to 3.5 seconds, en route to a ridiculous top speed of 187 mph. In a quality you can more easily experience on a public street, it also strikes an enviable balance of a smooth, silent ride with confident handling. It’s easy to forget that this is a massive SUV.
Interestingly, the Bentayga also isn’t huge on the inside. Rather than maximizing the number of people who can fit, Bentley crafted an interior that’s spacious yet intimate. The vehicle’s height and mass create a feeling of authority rather than the pedestrian quality of simple volume. There’s no third-row seat, so passengers low on the pecking order will need to secure other transportation. If that’s a deal breaker, consider that the seven-passenger Audi Q7 (priced from $49,950) is mechanically related to this Bentley and is also quite impressive, though you’d have to give up the 600-horsepower, 12- cylinder 15-mpg engine.
Following the mold of fellow British luxury marque Range Rover, Bentley worked to ensure that the Bentayga is also highly capable off road. There was no opportunity to confirm this during a brief test — nor enough courage to risk damaging the $278,890 test vehicle — but more adventurous journalists have indeed taken this vehicle crawling over boulders.
So while one glance at the Bentayga’s chrome-heavy face may suggest that it’s built mainly for people who want to show off their wealth, Bentley’s first SUV is also a truly exceptional vehicle based on its substantive merits.