Full 2007 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Review
What's New for 2007
A personal telephone integration system with Bluetooth connectivity is now standard. Otherwise, the Range Rover Sport carries over with only minor changes for 2007.
When introduced last year, the Range Rover Sport was quite a departure from Land Rover's traditional singular focus on conquering the far corners of the Earth. It was, in fact, the company's first on-road-oriented, performance SUV. One distinction: Even though it shares the Range Rover badge with its more luxurious big brother, the Range Rover Sport is actually a shortened and several-hundred-pounds-lighter version of the LR3.
The exterior styling echoes the cubist Range Rover shapes of old, though the engineers focused on optimizing aerodynamics and smooth lines; a shorter wheelbase and more steeply raked D-pillar/rear hatch give the Sport a decidedly dynamic stance. The LR3's steering and suspension were sharpened for better on-road performance with variable-ratio/variable-assistance ZF Servotronic steering and premium monotube shocks handling the bumps.
Two engines power the 2007 Land Rover Range Rover Sport: a standard 4.4-liter V8 in the HSE borrowed from the Jaguar parts shelf with 300 horsepower driving through a six-speed automatic transmission, and the bad-boy Supercharged 4.2-liter version, which boosts the V8's hp 30 percent to 390 far more eager horses.
The Range Rover Sport's fully independent suspension utilizes air springs at each corner for comfort, and an available Dynamic Response System automatically adjusts the stabilizer bars for maximum roll control whether you're on pavement or off. Although its stance, suspension and tires are all tuned for on-road life, the Sport is still ready to hit the trail without compromise with its low-range gearing and adaptive Terrain Response System first introduced in the LR3.
Though the idea of a fast and racy Land Rover sport-utility may seem like a contradiction, the 2007 Range Rover Sport carries over with the acceleration and ride and handling dynamics to keep it among the top choices of the high-performance SUV set, especially in Supercharged form. But we do suggest checking out the competition, which includes the new BMW X5 and the updated Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, before making a final decision.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The fully equipped five-passenger 2007 Land Rover Range Rover Sport luxury SUV is offered in two trim levels: HSE and Supercharged. The HSE comes standard with 19-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, fold-down rear seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite navigation and a 14-speaker, 550-watt Harman Kardon audio system with steering-wheel controls and a six-disc CD changer. Options include heated front and rear seats, adaptive headlights, center console cooler box, premium leather trim, polished cherry or oak trim and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. The Supercharged Sport model gets most of these extras plus 20-inch alloy wheels, the envelope-expanding Dynamic Response active suspension system and an optional adaptive cruise control system.
Powertrains and Performance
The standard Range Rover Sport HSE is powered by a 4.4-liter V8 that generates 300 hp and 315 pound-feet of torque. The Supercharged model features a blown 4.2-liter version of this engine that ups the power ante to 390 hp and a massive 410 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with adaptive shift logic that adjusts itself to road conditions and your driving style.
Likewise, they both also get Land Rover's permanent 4WD system with two-speed transfer case and Terrain Response System technology that automatically adjusts factors like throttle response and electronic traction/stability control sensitivity to varying off-road conditions. As you might imagine, none of this helps fuel economy one bit: EPA estimates for the Supercharged are 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway. Properly equipped Range Rover Sports can tow up to 7,700 pounds.
Range Rover Sport safety features include its nearly 3 tons of mass, four-wheel antilock braking -- including Brembo brakes on Supercharged models -- traction/stability control, hill-descent control and side-impact/head curtain airbags. The upmarket Supercharged model also includes adaptive headlights that "peer around" corners and adjust up and down to counter the effects of hard braking and varying cargo loads, as well as state-of-the-art Dynamic Response System active roll control technology to improve on-road handling and cornering performance at higher limits. In off-road conditions the system automatically "uncouples" the vehicle's antiroll bars for greater wheel travel, enhancing ride performance and driver feedback on rough terrain.
Interior Design and Special Features
The midsize Range Rover Sport sport-utility hits a home run inside with a first-class cabin best suited for four adults -- or five in a pinch -- trimmed in buttery English leather. A commanding driving position and elevated stadium seating give both driver and passengers a clear view of the scenery rushing by. The dash offers a simple, elegant geometric appearance that's very similar to the design used in the Range Rover. Switchgear is kept to a minimum, owing to integrated technology that minimizes the need for much driver input, but some of it is harder to reach than it should be. Maximum cargo capacity, at 71 cubic feet, is average for this class of vehicle. The Sport's sloping rear glass limits the ability to load large or bulky items, however.
Unlike the standard 300-hp Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE, the torquey 2007 Range Rover Sport Supercharged certainly lives up to its more sporting, high-performance pretensions. There's plenty of power and traction available underfoot regardless of location or conditions. Dynamically, its ride and handling is the equal of the leading performance unibody SUVs and vastly superior to full-frame, truck-based competitors. If you're looking for sober, balanced and confident performance on road or off, we recommend you ante up for the Range Rover or focus on the Range Rover Sport HSE equipped with the available Dynamic Response System. But if you want to seriously and confidently run with its racier performance SUV rivals and you have a penchant for agile, high-speed travel amid pricey clubroom splendor, the Range Rover Sport Supercharged remains one of the few that can get the job done.