We’ve just heard about the fourth-generation Nissan X-Trail getting a new VC Turbo engine in China. That’s Infiniti’s high-tech variable compression turbocharged engine, an upgrade from the familiar naturally aspirated 2.5 litre four-cylinder unit announced with the US-market Rogue in June 2020.

Now here’s another potential upcoming powertrain for the new X-Trail, and it has surfaced in the US, where the Rogue is already on sale with the 181 hp/245 Nm QR25DE, paired to a CVT gearbox.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s FuelEconomy.gov site, picked up by Car and Driver, the 2021 Rogue is getting a turbocharged 1.5 litre three-cylinder engine. No details yet, except for that the downsized turbo engine will be paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, with the option of AWD.

“Nissan regularly evaluates potential future technologies on existing models. We are planning a small pilot program with a potential new powertrain, utilising the 2021 Nissan Rogue. We have nothing further to announce at this time,” Nissan spokesman Josh Clifton told Motor1.com, without elaborating on when the pilot programme will start or who is going to participate.

According to the EPA, the 1.5L Rogue has combined fuel consumption of 14 km/l (33 mpg) for the base front-wheel-drive version, or 13.6 km/l for the high spec SL/Platinum with AWD. The current Rogue with the 2.5L NA CVT powertrain does 11.9 to 12.8 km/l, so there are some FC gains. Engine aside, the 8AT might provide a more dynamic driving experience over the CVT.

By the way, the Rogue is Nissan USA’s most important model, contributing almost 28% of total sales last year, so continuous improvement to the SUV is crucial.

A downsized turbo engine is not to be feared; instead, the low range torque can be useful for SUVs. And that’s before taking into account the fuel efficiency and emissions gains.

In Malaysia, our road tax is based on engine capacity, so that’s another bonus for the boosted small capacity motors. Here, the Germans have been on the downsizing trend for some time now, followed by Honda in the Japanese-brand mass market with the Civic FC’s 1.5L turbo engine a few years ago. Honda’s CR-V, an SUV classmate of the X-Trail, has been improved by the 1.5T engine. Even Proton (X70 1.8T, X50 1.5T three-cylinder) and Perodua (Ativa 1.0T three-cylinder) are on the turbo trail now with their SUVs.

GALLERY: 2021 Nissan X-Trail, US-market Rogue