We recently got the chance to take a quick drive in the new 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid, the brand’s new entry aimed square at the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid crossover SUV.

The Nissan Rogue Hybrid comes to us with not only a significant exterior redesign and improved interior features, but an all-new powertrain that promises up to 34 mpg combined city and highway from its gasoline engine and electric motor combination.

To the styling, the Nissan Rogue Hybrid gets the same new V-Motion grille and redesigned headlights, hood and fascia as the standard Rogue gasoline models. Out back the only major difference with the Hybrid is that little blue badge on the rear deck.

Nissan didn’t go to any major ovations to give the Rogue Hybrid a different look than the others.

What sets the Rogue Hybrid apart from the rest is its new 2.0 liter direct-injected four-cylinder gasoline engine that comes in lieu of the standard 2.5 liter mill. Here it has 141 horsepower and when combined with the 40 horsepower electric motor integrated into its continuously variable transmission (CVT), puts a total system 176 horsepower to the wheels.

Setting it apart from the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is that the Rogue Hybrid is available with both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. This is because the Rogue Hybrid has a traditional all-wheel drive system with a driveshaft to the rear axle, where the RAV4 Hybrid features an electric motor driving the rear wheels, with all-wheel drive standard.

This gives the Rogue Hybrid a number of key advantages, one being you can have it either way. It also pays off in all-wheel drive capability and traction with a traditional mechanical system, and area where RAV4 Hybrid hasn’t done so will in our past testing.

Power comes on seamlessly through the CVT as expected. The engine shuts off and starts back up periodically as most hybrids do, with little shake and drama associated. EV mode works often and strong but will pull in the gasoline engine if you ask for power briskly.

Braking feel is a little difficult to modulate at first as the Rogue Hybrid uses and electronically controlled braking system different from the standard Rogue. With its balancing of regenerative braking from the powertrain, it just takes some getting used to.

Compared to the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, it does come in with nearly 20 less horsepower, but the advantage its smaller and less powerful combination of engine and electric motor brings is efficiency. Along with a robust lithium-ion battery, it’s rated much higher in mpg than the RAV4.

The Rogue Hybrid is rated by the EPA at 33 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 34 mpg combined for the front-wheel drive models, and 31 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, and a 33 combined mpg rating for the all-wheel drive. In all, that’s 2-3 mpg more than with the RAV4 Hybrid.

Handling is the other major area where the Rogue Hybrid really offers something more. In our tests with the RAV4 Hybrid, its handling wasn’t that engaging whereas the Rogue Hybrid has steering that feels much more involving and has a chassis with a sharper feel in its ride and road holding.

The 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid goes on sale in December with pricing to be announced very soon and we will bring you a far more detailed review as soon as we get more time behind the wheel.