Full 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Review
What's New for 2012
For 2012, the Land Rover Range Rover Sport sees a variety of small changes, ranging from cosmetic to functional. The former include revised exterior trim details (such as black trim around the head- and taillights) while the latter include updated audio and infotainment systems.
Given logical reasoning and its styling, the 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Sport must be a sporty version of the Range Rover, right? Not exactly. Despite its name, the Range Rover Sport has more in common with the former Land Rover LR3 than the top-of-the-line Range Rover. Although the styling is very similar between the two Rovers, the Sport is almost 8 inches shorter and has nearly 2.5 inches less ground clearance. As such, it doesn't boast the impressive off-road chops of its big brother.
Still, the Sport is a Land Rover and as such is plenty capable on slippery terrain thanks to features such as full-time four-wheel drive, a two-speed transfer case, ascent and descent controls and an electronic locking rear differential. There's even a system that calibrates the powertrain and suspension settings to optimize 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. And there's plenty of on-road performance as well, given the available 510-horsepower supercharged V8 that puts straight-line performance in line with rivals like the BMW X5 M and Porsche Cayenne Turbo.
Enticing as all that is, Range Rover's subpar reliability record has been a thorn in the company's side for a long time and a red flag for potential buyers. In light of the latter as well as tight headroom for taller rear seat passengers, the 2012 Range Rover Sport isn't the most practical choice out there for a luxury midsize SUV. But with these types of vehicle purchases, practicality usually takes a backseat to more tempting characteristics such as handsome styling, a luxurious cabin, polished on- and off-road manners and the status of driving a time-honored marque. That said, we'd still suggest cross-shopping the Sport with the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Land Rover 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, a power tailgate, 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 phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and information controls, and an 11-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with six-CD changer, auxiliary jack and USB/iPod integration.
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, an upgraded suspension system (which enhances both on- and off-road handling), unique grille/fender vents/upholstery, satellite radio and HD 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 17-speaker surround-sound audio system.
Available for the HSE is a GT Limited Edition package that adds most of the features from the Autobiography package, along with a body kit, exclusive Orkney Grey paint and faux-suede interior trim.
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. In Edmunds testing, a Supercharged model sprinted to 60 mph in a very quick 5.2 seconds.
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 2012 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 average result for a luxury SUV.
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 wood or black lacquer accents.
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 2012 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is billed as a more nimble sibling to the top-of-the-line Range Rover, it still weighs a hefty 5,500 pounds. Thankfully, 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.
Around corners, the Range Rover Sport feels composed, exhibiting an impressive lack of body roll for a vehicle of its size and weight. But we suspect most buyers are more interested in a plush cabin and a smooth, quiet ride, which this baby Range Rover delivers.