Looking for something as plush as the big Land Rover Range Rover but with a more playful side? Try the smaller Range Rover Sport. The Sport's shortened wheelbase means slightly less passenger and cargo capacity, but the tradeoff in improved stability, ride and handling is well worth it. Off-road ability is not forsaken, either, and the Range Rover Sport can climb the steepest terrain with the best in its class, even with its performance tires that are oriented more toward pavement use. Available with an optional 390-horsepower Supercharged V8 engine, the Range Rover Sport is well equipped to compete with the likes of the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X6 and Infiniti FX50.
YOU'LL LIKE THIS CAR IF...
The 2009 Land Rover Range Rover Sport offers the interior panache worthy of the Range Rover name, yet packages it in a vehicle that exudes a much more aggressive nature. If the price tag doesn't discourage you from taking your prized possession off-road, in the dirt the Range Rover Sport can make the novice feel like a pro, and make living with the experienced off-roader simply unbearable.
YOU MAY NOT LIKE THIS CAR IF...
Though based on the smaller LR3 platform, the Range Rover Sport still tips the scales at nearly 5,700 pounds. That substantial weight assures the big V8 will have a thirst for fuel, yet despite its size the Sport offers no third-row seat and only average cargo space.
WHAT'S SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THIS CAR
New for 2009 is the HST Limited Edition package that adds an Ebony leather interior, the Cold Climate Package and adaptive front lightening and adaptive speed control. All Range Rover Sports receive minor interior and exterior enhancements as well as new wheel designs.
As big as it is, the Range Rover Sport's phalanx of electronic stability, ride and suspension controls make it one very impressive performance vehicle. Acceleration is good with the HSE model, but we much prefer the rush (zero to 60 miles-per-hour in 7.2 seconds) that comes from the Supercharged's 4.2-liter engine. The Dynamic Response system on the Supercharged model helps keep the vehicle level during sharp cornering. Off-road, the Range Rover Sport will astound you with its capabilities. The Terrain Response system adds an extra measure of confidence and Land Rover offers a number of off-road training and travel packages to help consumers understand the full benefits of its use.
OUR FAVORITE FEATURES
Terrain Response System
This high-tech system includes five settings that optimize the traction and dynamic functions for the type of terrain selected. It's a terrific concept that gives the driver a real sense of confidence when off-roading.
The electrically operated center console cooler can hold up to four eight-ounce plastic bottles and keeps them cool no matter what the outside temperature.
Though it shares the Range Rover's name, the Sport model receives a unique dash and interior. The wide center console houses the navigation screen, audio and climate controls, as well as the controls for the Hill Descent feature, adjustable suspension and Terrain Response system. Snug but comfortable seating offers good thigh support in the front bucket seats and roomy rear seat. The Sport is filled with so much technology that it requires a plethora of buttons and switches, and they are scattered over the dash, doors and steering wheel. The gauge lettering is small and difficult to read, and the black-lettered LCD readouts practically disappear when viewed through polarized lenses.
The Range Rover Sport manages to combine Range Rover's familiar cubist styling with a raked windscreen and a tapered roofline that makes the vehicle appear as if it is moving quickly, even when at rest. A two-piece rear liftgate allows easy access to the cargo area. The huge wheels and low-profile tires are visually stunning, yet quite adept off-road. The Supercharged model is distinguished by its bright mesh grille and side air intakes, as well as larger 20-inch wheels and tires.
NOTABLE STANDARD EQUIPMENT
The Ranger Rover Sport HSE is equipped with a naturally-aspirated 4.4-liter V8, six-speed automatic transmission with CommandShift manual-shift mode, electronic air suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels, Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Hill Descent Control (HDC), Terrain Response four-wheel-drive system, traction control, front side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, bi-xenon headlamps, fog lamps, eight-way power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, park distance control, Bluetooth phone integration, harman/kardon LOGIC 7 stereo with six-disc MP3/CD audio and 14 speakers and DVD GPS navigation with voice recognition and seven-inch LCD view screen. The Supercharged model adds the Supercharged 4.2-liter V8, 20-inch alloy wheels, front and rear heated seats, four-channel Brembo anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), unique grille and side vent treatment and silver interior trim in place of wood.
Options for the HSE trim include a Cold Climate Package (heated front and rear seats, heated windshield and heated washer nozzles), the Luxury Package (Climate controlled console, Cold Climate Package and adaptive headlamps), rear seat entertainment system, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, locking rear differential, Dynamic Response suspension and 20-inch alloy wheels. Options on the Supercharged include the Limited Edition Package and adaptive speed control.
UNDER THE HOOD
The HSE comes with a powerful 4.4-liter V8, which is nowhere near as fun to drive as the Supercharged 4.2-liter V8. The supercharger is most appreciated when passing at high speeds and scooting across bustling intersections. Away from the paved road, both engines have enough horsepower and torque to deal with any reasonable situation.
300 horsepower @ 5500 rpm
315 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/18
4.2-liter V8 Supercharged
390 horsepower @ 5750 rpm
410 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/18
The Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $59,000 and levels off just over $70,000 with all options. The Supercharged model starts around $72,500, but includes more features and tops out fully-loaded around $85,000. If you forego the Limited Edition option, there is only about a $7,000 difference between the two trims when fully equipped, but the extra performance and racy good looks make the Supercharged model, strangely enough, the "value leader." Similar vehicles in this price range include the Porsche Cayenne Turbo and the BMW X6 50i. Resale value of the Sport is projected to be well below that of the Porsche Cayenne and the BMW X6.