The base price in Canada for the 2020 Nissan Qashqai is $21,598.
In the US, the 2020 Nissan Rogue Sport starts at $23,430.
An all-new Qashqai debuts this month.
Yes, this is a 2020 Nissan Qashqai review well into February of 2021. The reasons for it are simple enough: The expected short 2021 model-year Qashqai will be a carry-over with a minor packaging change and an all-new version is on its way. This was thus the final opportunity to review this still popular small SUV.
The Nissan Qashqai is the bridge between the subcompact Kicks and the hugely successful Rogue and is also the most affordable AWD-equipped vehicle in Nissan’s line-up. It’s positioning therefore makes it a significant offering not only for Nissan but for consumers with small families looking for value, performance, and features.
Sharp-looker outside and in
The current Qashqai is the model’s second generation and for the 2020 model year, it did receive a mild facelift concentrated mostly upfront with a new hood, V-Motion grille, and adjoining bumper. Overall, the small SUV is quite attractive. The Qashqai’s profile, front fenders, and character lines produce a dynamically stylish small SUV.
The tested SL Platinum, priced at $34,098, includes LED headlights and fog lights on top of the 19-inch wheels delivered with the $31,948 SL. Visually, the wheels are the only elements that distinguish the SL from the more value-oriented $28,898 SV with AWD.
All trims feature a 7-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Satellite Radio, heated front seats, and much more. All versions have a nicely-appointed interior however the SL’s leather seats and various premium touches onboard class up what is otherwise a fairly roomy cabin.
With the baby seats setup on the rear bench, front passenger space is limited but considering the Qashqai’s overall dimensions, it’s more than acceptable. The same can be said for the trunk where its rated 566 litres (20 cubic feet) of available volume is adequate thanks to the included under-floor storage spaces.
It’s a fine driver
And these adequacies set the stage for what the 2020 Nissan Qashqai truly is. As I’ve stated a few times in the past, Nissan’s uncanny ability to strike that perfect chord, to walk the line that remarkably finds favour with many customers, is a skill few manufacturers have been able to develop. Never the best, and far from the least pleasant, A Nissan simply delivers.
This is about the best we can say about the Nissan Qashqai’s drive. The standard-for-all-trims naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine produces 141 horsepower and 147 lb.-ft. of torque. If you were wondering how it’s possible that the Qashqai is less expensive in Canada than in the US, well here’s the answer: The base S model is available with a 6-speed manual transmission whereas, in the US, the Xtronic CVT is offered on all versions.
With the exception of the SL trims, all are FWD with Nissan’s Intelligent AWD being options. In Canada, AWD is a must and frankly, Nissan’s system is efficient and actually quite fun. As the current Qashqai is from a previous generation, there are no drive modes which means the AWD system is set up aggressively. On a snowy surface, and with a generous-enough helping of throttle, the small SUV turns out to be very playful. This is quite unlike its all-new big brother, the 2021 Rogue.
With an old exception
The tragic element is a horse that’s long been dead and repeatedly beaten. The Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) continues to mildly disrupt what is a, not surprisingly, very adequate drivetrain. Despite the potential efficiencies on paper, pegging engine speeds under acceleration, be it mild to forceful, is a deal-breaker. Sadly, it’s no better in the new Rogue which leads us to believe that the next Qashqai will suffer the same fate. Fuel economy though is fair at about 8.5L-9L/100km.
It would be a stretch to say that the 2020 Nissan Qashqai is refined. It’s not entirely quiet nor is it immune to various vibrations and other noises. Fortunately, the small SUV’s driving characteristics which, thanks to its multilink rear suspension, is diverting.
Middle of the pack
The 2020 Nissan Qashqai remains a compelling offer in the small SUV segment. It’s not as polished as the Mazda CX-30, not as spacious as the Kia Seltos, and not as unique as the Chevrolet Trailblazer but it’s somewhere smack in the middle.
Shopping in the segment will reveal that there are far more alternatives than most consumers think. If you’re not in the mood to shop, head for the middle.