The 2020 Nissan Qashqai (or Rogue Sport as it’s known in the United States) has an odd name. But that aside, it is one of Nissan’s most popular models by sales volume. Why is that?
Engine – Well it’s not for straight line performance. The Qashqai is only available with a naturally aspirated 2.0L engine that produces 141 hp and 147 lb-ft of torque. The peak torque and power figures are relatively high in the rpm range when compared to a turbocharged counterpart. That means that the engine needs to be revved a bit when accelerating onto a highway or when overtaking. This is actually one of the slowest accelerating subcompact crossovers in this segment.
But while it may not be fast, it is fuel efficient even with the optional all-wheel-drive system. It is rated for 9.0 L/100km (26.1 mpg) in a city and 7.7 L/100km (30.5 mpg) on a highway. Those fuel economy numbers are average for this class, besting the Hyundai Kona but not quite reaching the fuel economy figures of the Mazda CX-3.
Transmission – A 6-speed manual with front-wheel-drive is available for the Canadian market but unfortunately not for the United States market. However this manual transmission is only available with the base S trim. This higher up SL trim is only available with a CVT.
If you’ve read my previous reviews of vehicles equipped with this type of transmission, you would have found out that I don’t particularly like this type of transmission. But Nissan stuck with it and refined it. The CVT in this 2020 Nissan Qashqai does a good job of being unobtrusive. It tries to mimic a traditional automatic when accelerating hard but most other times it behaves like a CVT to make the engine as fuel efficient as possible.
Braking – The brakes on the Nissan Qashqai / Rogue Sport don’t feel particularly sport oriented, as it’s American name suggests, but they don’t feel underwhelming either. They provide enough stopping force to bring the 1,530 kg body to a stop in a hurry. Automatic emergency braking is a standard feature.
Handling – Steering response is very quick and sharp. The front wheels react immediately to any tug of the steering wheel. However the steering feel is numb and a bit too light. It’s great for tight city streets, which is what this crossover was designed for, but not so enjoyable if you frequently drive on a twisty road.
The AWD system does not have any fancy limited slip differentials on the front or rear axles but it does have a lock between the front and rear wheels. This means that should you find yourself on a beach with soft sand, you can still get out of a slippery situation without much effort.
Ride Comfort – The ride of the 2020 Nissan Qashqai is ok but not perfect. It’s comfortable on roads or highways that are not too badly worn out. But over rougher roads, there’s quite a bit of harshness that gets transferred through the suspension and into the cabin. What’s not helping with the ride are these optional 19-inch wheels. Yes, 19-inch wheels on a compact crossover. Save yourself some money, and go for one of the lower trims with the 17-inch wheels. You’ll get more sidewall in the tires which will improve the ride comfort as well, you’ll save money when it comes to replacing those tires. 19-inch tires are not cheap.
Interior Space – The interior has a good amount of space for this type of vehicle. Getting in and out of the seats is easy thanks to the wide opening doors. There is a lot of head room in the front seats as well as in the rear seats. Sliding the front seats backwards provides a good amount of legroom for the front occupants but it does take away from the rear occupants. Two adults would be fine in the rear seats just so long as they are not over 6-feet. With the rear seats up, the Qashqai has 566 L (20 cu-ft) of cargo capacity with the sunroof. Fold those rear seats down and cargo capacity increases to 1,500 L (53 cu-ft) . But opt for a Qashqai without the sunroof and it can hold a maximum of 1,730 L (61.1 cu-ft) of cargo which makes it one of the best in the class.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Wind and road noise are relatively subdued inside the cabin but engine noise is very prominent especially when accelerating from a stop or to overtake on a highway.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The biggest feature that the Nissan Qashqai has going for it is the suite of advanced safety and driver aids. Automatic emergency braking, rear emergency braking, blind spot sensors, and lane departure warning with lane keep are all standard on the Nissan Qashqai. Other important standard features – for the Canadian market – include heated seats, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto connectivity, Bluetooth, and hands-free texting assistant. A pretty good list of features for a compact crossover that starts at just under $21,600 CAD.
This SL trim comes with a few more features like the sunroof, power liftgate, navigation, leather seats, adaptive cruise control, automatic climate control, heated steering wheel, surround view cameras – which by the way, is standard definition not HD – and the aforementioned 19-inch wheels. This SL trim is quite a bit more expensive at $31,948 CAD ($29,950 USD). But that’s not the end though. Spend another $2,150 CAD and you can get the SL Platinum which adds LED headlights, Bose audio system, fog lights, and memory driver seat.
Interior Design – The layout of the interior is quickly recognizable as a Nissan product. It has a flat-bottom steering wheel, easy to understand climate and infotainment controls, and a simple gauge cluster. However, you also quickly notice why the base price is so attractive because a few of the materials are hard plastics. Around the gear selector, lower door panels, and lower dashboard you find nothing but hard plastics. There are leather pads to each side of the center console though where you can rest your knees against.
Exterior Design – The exterior received a mild refresh over last year’s model. This 2020 model has similar headlights to the regular Nissan Rogue as well as the big V shaped grille that is prominent on other new Nissan vehicles. The rear receives new taillights and the 19-inch wheels are a different design to last year’s model. Overall it looks more like a shrunken down version of it’s Rogue big brother.
So back to the original question. Why is this one of Nissan’s best sellers? Well it’s definitely not because of the performance. The Mazda CX-3 is a much better driving vehicle. Rear legroom is also not the greatest for this class. But the 2020 Nissan Qashqai can offer a lot of cargo capacity, is well equipped with quite a few convenience and safety features as standard, and has a very reasonable starting MSRP. I think that, along with the full suite of safety features is what makes the 2020 Nissan Qashqai (or Rogue Sport) so appealing to crossover shoppers.
Thank you to Nissan Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Nissan.ca