What's New for 2011
Not much changes for the 2011 Land Rover Range Rover Sport. There's more leather on upper trim levels, some option and package shuffling and a small-run trim level dubbed the "Sport GT Limited Edition."
It's tempting to dismiss the 2011 Land Rover Range Rover Sport as Land Rover Lite, a luxury SUV posturing as the progeny of a line of vehicles with an impeccable off-road heritage. The temptation is not unwarranted. The Range Rover Sport is Land Rover's transparent attempt to attract a well-heeled urban set more interested in all-weather mobility than all-terrain adventure.
In reality, the Range Rover Sport shares more in common with the former Land Rover LR3 than the top-of-the-line Range Rover. The Sport is almost 8 inches shorter than the Range Rover and offers nearly 2.5 inches less ground clearance. But even if the Sport lacks the enthusiasm for two-track trails that its name suggests, it isn't a hapless city slicker. The 2011 Range Rover Sport still offers full-time four-wheel drive, a two-speed transfer case, ascent and descent controls, an electronic locking rear differential and a system that synchronizes powertrain and suspension settings for best traction in conditions including snow, dirt, mud and gravel. Even if Range Rover Sport owners never go off-road, the Sport is more willing to dirty its boots than most of its competitors.
Revised engine offerings in 2010 ? notably a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 making 510 horsepower -- put the Range Rover Sport's performance in line with rivals like the BMW X5 M and Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Unfortunately Range Rover reliability falls well short of the standards of its classmates, which bears consideration when weighing a purchase.
Practical matters to be considered also include mediocre storage space and stunted rear headroom. But buying a vehicle like this isn't all about practicality. For those seeking a luxurious cabin, polished on-road manners with adventurous instincts, great looks and the status of a time-honored marque, the Range Rover Sport stands alone.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Range Rover Sport is a five-passenger SUV available in HSE and Supercharged trim levels.
The HSE comes standard with 19-inch wheels, a sunroof, bi-xenon headlights, foglights, an adjustable air suspension with adaptive damping, keyless entry/ignition, front and rear parking sensors, power front seats with driver memory settings, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, leather upholstery, wood interior trim, dual-zone climate control, a navigation system with off-road tracking, Bluetooth, a rearview camera, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and information controls, and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with six-CD changer, auxiliary jack and separate USB/iPod ports.
An optional Luxury package adds 20-inch wheels, a heated windshield, heated washer jets, heated front and rear seats, available piano black trim, premium leather upholstery, additional driver seat adjustments and a cooler box. The Supercharged model includes all of the above plus a more powerful engine, steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles, Brembo front brakes, a Dynamic Response suspension system (which enhances both on- and off-road handling), a unique grille and upholstery, and satellite radio.
Opting for the Autobiography package (available only for the Supercharged model) adds adaptive headlights, automatic high beams, unique wheels, grille and exterior treatments, a rear roof spoiler, a 360-degree parking assist camera, upgraded leather and a premium 14-speaker surround-sound audio system with HD radio.
New for 2011, the Sport GT Limited Edition adds most of the features from the Autobiography package to the base HSE, but is only available in a single color, Fuji White. Some of these extra features can be added to the HSE as options. A rear-seat entertainment system is available for all models, but adaptive cruise control is optional on the Supercharged only.
Powertrains and Performance
Range Rover Sport HSE models are powered by a 5.0-liter V8 that produces 375 hp and 375 pound-feet of torque. The Supercharged model churns out an impressive 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque from a supercharged version of that engine. Both engines are joined to a six-speed automatic transmission with three modes: Normal, Sport and Manual.
All Range Rover Sport models feature full-time four-wheel-drive with a two-speed transfer case and Terrain Response. The latter is a system that optimizes powertrain, suspension and electronics for increased traction in grass, gravel, snow, mud, sand and rocks. The Supercharged model also features a Dynamic Mode, tailoring the chassis and powertrain for more sporty and responsive on-road driving. Properly equipped, Range Rover Sport models can tow up to 7,700 pounds.
Fuel economy estimates for the base V8 are 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway and 15 mpg combined, while the Supercharged model rates an estimated 12/17/14 mpg.
The 2011 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is equipped with antilock disc brakes (more powerful Brembo brakes are fitted to the Supercharged model), hill-descent control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Traction and stability control with rollover protection are also standard on all models, as are front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.
Supercharged models equipped with an adaptive cruise control system also benefit from a collision mitigation system. Using forward-looking radar, the system primes the brake system if a collision appears imminent. It will even initiate braking in extreme cases.
The optional Vision Assist package adds blind-spot monitoring, adaptive front lighting, automatic high-beam assist and multi-camera parking assist.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Range Rover Sport Supercharged slowed from 60 mph to zero in 123 feet, an impressive result for an SUV that weighs nearly 6,000 pounds.
Interior Design and Special Features
One of the best features of any SUV is its commanding view of the road. The Range Rover Sport takes this a step further with elevated stadium-style seating for rear passengers, affording them the same view. And though headroom might be scant back there for taller passengers, they will enjoy the high-grade leather upholstery and elegant cabin accents that include walnut and Anigre wood, or black lacquer.
Although the Range Rover Sport doesn't radiate the same Old World luxury charm as the more traveled top-line Range Rover, it still feels rich and contemporary. Its console and switchgear are thoroughly modern, as is its thin-film dash display, which presents essential -- and customizable -- driver and vehicle information through graphics and virtual gauges.
For a vehicle that leads its class on several counts, the Range Rover Sport rates only average in cargo capacity with 71 cubic feet available. Its sloping rear window can also hamper the loading of bulky items.
Even though the 2011 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is billed as a more nimble sibling to the top-of-the-line Range Rover, it still weighs about 5,500 pounds, about 1,000 pounds more than an Infiniti FX50. The 5.0-liter V8 is a smooth, torque-rich mill that is happy to rev, and brings the Range Rover Sport's performance within striking distance of the competition.
In quick transitions on a twisty road, the Range Rover Sport feels composed, exhibiting an impressive lack of body roll for a vehicle of its size and weight. Its Dynamic Response system and adaptive suspension dampers offer up a bit more cornering ability, but we guess most owners won't be using the Range Rover Sport to slice and dice through mountain passes. Most buyers are more interested in a plush, quiet and smooth cabin, something this baby Range Rover delivers.