It’s a rare occurrence a vehicle manufacturer throws us the keys to last year’s model for a review; luckily, Land Rover did just that. Here’s what we thought.
Driving, Power, and Handling Impressions
To say the four-wheel-drive and suspension configurability for terrain is, “good” would be the biggest understatement of the decade. Settings for sand, rocks, mud, snow and more are just a flick of a knob away. Need more ground clearance? Just press a button and the Sport rises magically, up to 4.5 inches higher than its more than its regular ride height.
The air suspension is great on the highway and small streets with no body roll. However, the vehicle still feels like a hulking mass at times, akin to fully stocked bank vault. Surprisingly, the suspension is not bouncy.
The supercharged, 5.0-liter V-8 has so much horsepower that you can jump from 70 ‒ 100 mph in what seems like a blink of an eye. Better yet, our informal 0 ‒ 60 times in sub-freezing temps still netted just below 5-seconds per run. That visceral power experience is the result of engineers souping the engine up to a whopping 510 horsepower and 461 lb-ft of torque. That is more than adequate power to pull as many stumps out of the ground as your heart desires.
With all of the power provided to make this SUV go fast, it also has to stop quickly. Luckily, that is not a problem with the fitted Brembo brakes. The massive red calipers do a wondrous job to slow down all 5000-plus pounds of this statement on wheels.
When we loaned the vehicle, better testing conditions could not be had for a vehicle of this ilk and price ($79,900 plus $925 destination fee): Old Man Winter was here in the DC area and wanted us to know sub-freezing temperatures, ice and a foot of snow were here to stay.
Quite handedly, the heated windshield, heated seats and heated steering wheel provided a cocoon of warmth while the vehicle easily dislodged itself from a 24-inch snowbank created by municipal plows. Who needs to shovel their vehicle out if you own this thing?
Adding to the SUV’s ability to warm occupants, its HVAC system works and sounds like something built by an industrial company: it quickly warms the car; ice melts all around you, and helps you get on your way faster than anything else tested.
Interior and Tech
The infotainment system is hard to use. A clunky interface and smallish touchscreen (taking in the fact our Range Rover Sport cost $93,930 as configured when new) are almost all forgivable if it were not for the fact this SUV performs so well when it really matters.
The multi power leather covered seats are very comfortable and highly adjustable. The center console even has a cooler in it, complete with power port and USB.
The large amount of satin-finished aluminum trim, rich wood inlays, and leather throughout the cabin almost had us confused; were we sitting in a luxury sedan? Off-roaders aren’t supposed to feel this nice, right? Wrong. Maybe the question we should have been asking ourselves is, “Why an off-roader can’t feel and look this luxurious, always?”
Parallel parking sensors, self-parking, cruise control, blind spot assist, rear cross paths detection, multi-view cameras and tons of other tech nannies came packed into our used tester. When new, all of the options (including the panoramic sunroof, ebony headliner, Dynamic Handling Package, Meridian audio system, Tow Package...let’s just say this thing is fully loaded) added up to a number just shy of $14,000. While you could buy a brand new Kia Rio for that amount of cash, the Rio won’t get you home in the snow like this tuxedo-guised hauler will.
Cargo & Fuel Economy
Little details like hooks for grocery bags in the cargo area are useful. With rear row up, 27.7 cubic feet affords plenty of room for both grocery and sled runs. Place the seats down and the area swells to 62.2-cubic feet. That should get the family Christmas tree home if you do not want to place it on the roof.
If you can afford a vehicle of this price, you probably aren’t concerned with the fuel economy scores according to the Environmental Protection Agency. For the rest of us who are curious, the super charged 5.0-liter guzzles down premium fuel at the rate of 14 mpg in the city, 19 mpg on the highway, and 16 mpg combined.
Being that it is 2015, it was a unique opportunity for us to test a 2014 model that had already been sufficiently broken in with just a bit over 10,000 miles on the odometer. The 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport loaned to us by the well-tailored folks at Land Rover both amazed and impressed us. In all though, our time with this bespoke, yet athletic vehicle made it quite clear why there is such a loyal following with the Land Rover brand.