• Image Credit: Land Rover
I found myself driving the 2014 Range Rover Sport up a steep ramp into the fuselage of an airplane. Once inside the plane, sitting on a tarmac in the Cotswold section of the U.K., there was a ramp that forced the car up an extreme angle, then over obstacles -- all inside the plane mind you -- and then descend on a ramp pitched at about 45 degrees.

This was after I had driven the Range Rover through a mud, gravel, ditch, hill and pond-water obstacle course during which the water sloshed up well over the hood and to the top of the tires.

If the behavior and performance of a Range Rover Sport seems a bit extreme and the stuff of movies and lads with too much money on their hands, it is a bit of that. But more than once my driving partners and I said, "Ya gotta love a Range Rover" as we were driving through, into and out of these extreme conditions.

Ninety percent of Range Rover Sport owners won't ever drive over anything more extreme than a wayward orange traffic cone or parking space bumper -- although the blokes at Land Rover say it is more like one-third who will drive off-road -- but that's not the point.

The minute Range Rover and its Land Rover parent stop making fabulous SUVs that can go anywhere and do anything, they have lost their brand and their reason for being.

The 2014 Range Rover is simply the best vehicle Land Rover has ever produced for both on-road and off-road driving. Here's why:

Research the Range Rover Sport
Range Rover Sport Photos & Information
Range Rover Sport Specs
Range Rover Sport Local Dealer Price Quote
The Basics
  • Image Credit: Land Rover

The Basics

Sticker Price: $63,500 base price for the V6 and $93,295 for a loaded V8.

Engine: 3.0L Super-charged V6 or 5.0L Supercharged V8.

Transmission: 8 speed automatic with manual mode and paddle shifters available.

Performance: 340 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft of torque for the V6, and 510 horsepower and 461 lb.-ft. for the V8. Zero-to-60 in 6.9 seconds for the V6 and 5 seconds for the V8.

Fuel Economy: NA

Seating: Five with an option for a third row that seats an additional two.

Research the Range Rover Sport
Range Rover Sport Photos & Information
Range Rover Sport Specs
Range Rover Sport Local Dealer Price Quote

Exterior Design
  • Image Credit: Land Rover

Exterior Design

If you notice some lines and proportions in the Range Rover Sport that remind you of the Range Rover Evoque, it is not by accident. The Sport is less boxy and more graceful and, yes, sporty in the way it stands at the curb. The roof line is higher and less tapered than the Evoque, but it still looks like a big brother with same DNA. Indeed, the whole Range Rover lineup finally looks cohesive.

The view from all angles is flattering, like a neatly tailored Savile Row suit.

Research the Range Rover Sport
Range Rover Sport Photos & Information
Range Rover Sport Specs
Range Rover Sport Local Dealer Price Quote

Interior
  • Image Credit: Land Rover

Interior

The interior is laden with European handbag-grade leather with perfect double stitching. We like the piano black accents but hated the red color (identical red to the crayon like "cherry" substance Dairy Queen uses to cover its ice cream cones) dashboard pieces that went with the red Range Rover Sport that we drove for part of our journey. There is also a new power-split-folding third row of seats.

Research the Range Rover Sport
Range Rover Sport Photos & Information
Range Rover Sport Specs
Range Rover Sport Local Dealer Price Quote

Passenger And Cargo Room
  • Image Credit: Land Rover

Passenger And Cargo Room

The Range Rover Sport sits a tad lower than the previous one, about 2.5 inches longer, with a 7.5 inch longer wheel-base, and two inches wider. Entry into the back seat is much improved, as is leg and hip room. Land Rover's engineers and designers very much took to heart all the things previous owners complained about and seem to have gone through every one on a clipboard until it was fixed.

There is a third-row seat available in the Range Rover Sport for the Santa Barbara and Hamptons crowd who would rather wear brown shoes with formal wear than drive their children around in a minivan. But it's not easy to access and anyone sitting back there may feel punished.

Rear cargo room is ample, swallowing up gear for three people.

Research the Range Rover Sport
Range Rover Sport Photos & Information
Range Rover Sport Specs
Range Rover Sport Local Dealer Price Quote

Driving Dynamics
  • Image Credit: Land Rover

Driving Dynamics

The old Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models have been sluggish and heavy to drive. But this new Range Rover Sport, which only comes equipped with one of two super-charged engines (no naturally aspirated poerplants are offered) and is 800 pounds lighter than the old one, runs like a quarter-miler down the road.

Several times while driving through the green Welsh countryside, we got stuck behind a lorry. The curves of the road seemed designed to keep us from passing. But once we had our opening, the Range Rover was out like a shot in the passing lane.

The more than 800 pounds lost from the old model is due to Range Rover using aluminum for the body and several key parts and pieces of the SUV rather than steel. There is far less body roll than previous Range Rovers, and the body overall is about 50 percent stiffer, say the engineers.

Engineers left nothing off this beast. It has an active-roll-control system, optional rear electronic locking differential, and a torque-vectoring (torque vectoring technology provides the differential with the ability to vary the amount of power sent to each wheel) unit on the loaded version we drove, giving it astonishing road manners, as well as keeping it from tipping over when doing something silly like crawl the side of a dry creek bed. In short, this world-beater luxury SUV drives like a luxury sedan when it is on road.

For off-road conditions, two different four-wheel drive systems are available on the Range Rover Sport. One is a sort of all-wheel-drive type system that distributes torque to the wheels in a 42/58 front-to-back split. But in more serious road and traction conditions, up to 62 percent of engine torque can be sent to the front axle, and up to 78 percent can be sent to the rear.

For more serious off-roaders who might find themselves window-deep in mud, a dual-range high/low transfer case option is available. A dynamic active rear locking differential is available with the dual-range transfer case system too.

Research the Range Rover Sport
Range Rover Sport Photos & Information
Range Rover Sport Specs
Range Rover Sport Local Dealer Price Quote

Tech And Infotainment
  • Image Credit: Land Rover

Tech And Infotainment

What can we say. The Brits still don't really get the new age of infotainment interfaces or connectivity. We thought this might change under ownership of Tata Motors, but alas the Range Rover has the same unreliable and obstinate system found in its sister vehicles at Jaguar. Even the Range Rover product boss that hung with us for a few days called it "a work in progress." Really? It's about time you just got this part of the vehicle right.

If you get exasperated fiddling with the navigation system, just turn up the very excellent Meridien stereo system with its 23 speakers to take your mind off it.

Research the Range Rover Sport
Range Rover Sport Photos & Information
Range Rover Sport Specs
Range Rover Sport Local Dealer Price Quote

Bottom Line
  • Image Credit: Land Rover

Bottom Line

But for the deficient navigation/infotainment system, the Range Rover team did a wonderful job evolving a classic to a much better and brighter place.

Is an SUV with such amazing ability to ford streams and climb mountain sides a frivolous thing? As I drove it through several extreme tests, I did think of the ranch owner in California, Texas, South America, Africa or the Middle East who actually uses one of these -- or a Jeep or Toyota Land Cruiser -- to get through washed out roads, or through places with no roads. People with money do live in remote and rough places in many cases.

That's Land Rover's story for its vehicles. Besides the vicarious thrill that some wealthy soccer moms may get from driving such a beast to yoga class, the fact is that this vehicle is over-engineered for how 90 percent of the Range Rovers are going to be driven.

But that remaining 10 percent probably don't ever want anything else transporting themselves and their families when the river rises and the bridge goes out.

Research the Range Rover Sport
Range Rover Sport Photos & Information
Range Rover Sport Specs
Range Rover Sport Local Dealer Price Quote



  List
I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago

  • From Our Partners

    2016 Cadillac CT6
    MSRP: $53,495 - $87,465
    2017 Chrysler Pacifica
    MSRP: $28,595 - $42,495
    2017 Cadillac XT5
    MSRP: $38,995 - $62,500
    2016 Nissan Maxima
    MSRP: $32,510 - $39,960
    2017 Honda Ridgeline
    MSRP: $29,475 - $42,870