The Land Rover Range Rover Sport is a premium SUV that represents a shift in focus for this SUV-oriented luxury brand. While traditional Land Rover models have combined unbeatable off-road performance with the amenities of a luxury sedan, the Range Rover Sport represents Land Rover's entry into the burgeoning high-performance SUV arena. It is designed to offer sporty road manners and traditional Land Rover luxury without completely sacrificing the go-anywhere abilities of other Land Rover models.
Despite its name, the Range Rover Sport is actually a modified and shortened version of the old Land Rover LR3. Certainly, it's an enjoyable and luxurious vehicle to drive as well as look at. But shoppers seriously interested in getting maximum on-road performance out of an SUV would probably be better served by a few of this Land Rover's competitors, as they are able to deliver better acceleration and handling.
Current Land Rover Range Rover Sport
The Range Rover Sport is offered in two trim levels, both featuring 5.0-liter V8s. The HSE model produces 375 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque, while the Supercharged model's V8 develops an impressive 510 hp and 461 lb-ft. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control.
Handling performance is a definite step up from other Land Rover models. The Range Rover Sport is the first Land Rover to offer the company's Dynamic Response suspension system, which is standard on the Supercharged model and optional on the HSE. Land Rover says that this computer-controlled system senses cornering forces and automatically adjusts the antiroll bars to optimize body control and handling. Dynamic Response works as advertised, giving the Range Rover Sport a more agile feeling when the roads get twisty, as compared to previous Land Rovers.
Off-road performance is still within the Range Rover Sport's repertoire as well. A permanent four-wheel-drive system with a two-speed transfer case is standard, and features an electronically controlled, infinitely variable locking center differential that automatically distributes the available torque to both drive axles as needed. Additionally, the Range Rover Sport's Terrain Response System assures that the driver will be up to nearly any off-road task. It offers five different settings that adjust throttle response, gearchanges, vehicle ride height and the differentials to optimize mobility in varying environments, ranging from pavement to sand.
Land Rover is also synonymous with luxury, which doesn't take a backseat in the Range Rover Sport. Just about any premium feature that you will find on most luxury sedans, or any of its luxury SUV competitors, is available on the Range Rover Sport. The same holds true for safety items, with the usual complement of airbags and electronic crash-prevention aids.
Unlike the Sport's older cabin design, the current RR Sport offers the sort of ambience its big Range Rover brother has been renowned for. Occupants are surrounded by supple leathers, rich wood trim and top-notch materials, while the dash design is not only visually appealing but easy to use as well. As always, though, the Sport isn't as passenger-friendly as its Land Rover siblings. Headroom can be at a premium, and the backseat is best suited for two people.
We are impressed with the Range Rover Sport's dual-natured capabilities on and off-road. Its 5.0-liter V8s provide the sort of power this hefty truck requires, and the cabin yields the luxury its well-heeled customers deserve. However, besides the above concerns, there's also the matter of its thirsty fuel consumption and Land Rover's poor record for reliability.
Used Land Rover Range Rover Sport Models
The Range Rover Sport debuted for the 2006 model year and is still in its first generation. However, there are notable differences between the current model and those made from 2006-'09.
Originally, the HSE was equipped with a 4.4-liter V8 that developed 300 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque. The Supercharged model was equipped with a 4.2-liter V8 that, logically, employed a supercharger to produce 390 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. However, the relatively high curb weights put a damper on performance and fuel economy for both models. Both engines were backed by a six-speed automatic transmission with different tuning than the current model.
The original cabin was more akin to the cheaper LR3 in design than the top-dog Range Rover. Its center console was a mess of little black buttons, which felt cheap, looked alike and were harder to reach than they should've been. Prior to the 2012 model year, Range Rovers also suffered from outdated and unintuitive audio and navigation systems. Recent updates have remedied those issues.