2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport review

16 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport review

2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

An SUV that thinks it’s a performance car, the Range Rover Sport has sought to be the ultimate do anything off (and on)-roader. But underneath, it was just a Land Rover. until now.

Dripping with Range Rover cachet, the new Sport is also (more or less) a real Range Rover underneath. The change means it can still wade through streams, climb almost vertical sand and rock hills, but now it does so with more room inside and less weight to lug around.

To see what this mini-Rangie is all about for its second full generation, we headed to the perfect venue: Silcon Valley, California.

New and improved

Just as many who approach middle age try to do, the Range Rover Sport has gone on a severe diet. Unlike most, Sport succeeded. Previously a quasi-body on frame affair, the 2014 now utilizes the world’s first aluminum unibody construction.

Through the use of new high-strength alloy that utilizes high-tech adhesives and riveting techniques similar to those used on its Jaguar cousins, the Sport managed to drop roughly 800 lbs.

To motivate this lighter beast, Land Rover dug into the corporate parts bin for a supercharged 340-horsepower, 332 lb-ft. of torque 3.2-liter V6 that will power most models. Faster to 60 mph (just 6.9 seconds) than the 5.0-liter naturally-aspirated V8 that powered last year#39;s chunkier Sport, the V6 boosts fuel economy by about 2 mpg to 17/23 mpg (19 mpg combined).

For those aspiring to a higher degree of power, not to mention quicker start times, a supercharged 510-horsepower, 461 lb-ft. of torque 5.0-liter V8 engine is once again on offer. Capable of hitting 60 mph in just 5 seconds, its biggest reward is, arguably, its NASCAR exhaust note. Fuel economy is up here, too – to 14/19 mpg (and 16 mpg combined).

Both engines are mated to a ZF-soured eight-speed automatic transmission, which is capable of 200-millisecond gear changes. A new grip-like gear selector or steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters let drivers select gears on their own.

Power goes to all four wheels via Land Rover#39;s new Terrain Response2 traction control system.

Mud, snow, sand, trees and ruts modes are included, as is a hill descent control system to keep the Sport#39;s speed to a minimum. Moreover, Land Rover goes a step further by letting buyers opt for a full locking rear differential to improve traction further.

That#39;s all great for off roading, but Land Rover rightly realizes that Sports will spend most of their time on road – so torque vectoring is now part of the mix for off-throttle, near-limited understeer suppression.

Naturally, the Sport is also available with a wide range of electronics – blind spot monitoring (that watches vehicles coming up from behind at a high rate of speed), an overhead view camera, park assist, active xenon headlamps and radar cruise control that can bring things to a complete stop (and start things up again) in heavy traffic.

But all those goodies might be overshadowed by one new feature: 5+2 seating, giving the Sport seven seatbelts for the first time ever. Granted, row three is best described as occasional seating for kids. Or circus contortionists.

The right looks

Glance at it from the side, and the Range Rover Sport appears like a longer, larger, hunkered down version of the mid-sized Range Rover Evoque than a shrunken Range Rover.

Exterior cues like a clamshell hood (with functional vents), more stylized side gills and thin, swept-back LED lamps, help give the Sport a more tech-savvy and less traditional appearance than before. Buyers can opt for 19 through 22-inch alloy wheels, although the previous Sport has shown us that aftermarket rims won#39;t be uncommon.

Turning inside finds a new, wider version of the center console festooned with choices of trim coverings ranging from a variety of wood veneers to turned aluminum paneling. Available 14-way adjustable seats equipped with ventilation and heating offered infinitesimal adjustments for every size and shape of driver.

The rear seats now feature four-inches of fore and aft travel as well as recline and easy-tilt functions that allow for easy access to the available third row of occasional seats. Over all of this is a super-large panoramic sunroof. Undoubtedly, this is a fine interior.

The big differentiator here isn#39;t necessarily the new supercharged V6, but the Sport#39;s hefty weight loss. Not only can the lower mass be felt in the way this SUV accelerates, it#39;s even more obvious in the way it drives. The V6-powered Sport tips the scales at about 4,700 lbs. before any options are added, while the more well-equipped V8 comes in at about 5,100 lbs.

The 3.0-liter V6 is an extremely smooth operator, offering quiet inside and a respite from the outside world. Acceleration is more than adequate, with the big SUV feeling downright fleet of foot thanks to a wide torque spread. The V8, meanwhile, amps things up to levels truly befitting the Sport nomenclature.

But the V8#39;s growl is only there when you want it; this is one of the quietest vehicles we#39;ve ever driven.

New electric power steering has been tuned to take advantage of the SUV#39;s lighter curb weight. Light and precise, it may not be dripping in feel, but it combines with a taut suspension to give the Sport the kind of natural athlete feel not typically seen in SUVs. especially those capable of plugging up a mountain.

When we hit the dirt, we generally left Terrain Response2 in a new Auto mode, which, as you might expect, monitors the muck on its own. More capable than virtually any owner will choose to discover, the Range Rover Sport offers more suspension articulation and more traction than ever before. Moreover, the widescreen display in the center stack let us see just what was going on underneath – which differentials were locked and just how far each wheel was compressed.

Frankly, it#39;s almost too easy to drive the Range Rover Sport off road. Shouldn#39;t trails be a challenge

You may never rule the world from your vehicle, but if you wanted to, you#39;d probably do it in a Range Rover Sport.

Possessing all the luxury and style of its full-size Range Rover brother, the Sport is more usably compact and sprightly to drive in the way owners might really use it. If there was ever a case for weight loss, this is probably it.

2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport base price range, $62,600 to $93,295.

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