2009 Range Rover Sport New Car Test Drive
The Range Rover Sport fits between the full-size, top-line Range Rover and the entry-level, family-friendly LR3.
The Sport looks sportier than either the purposeful LR3 or the stately Range Rover and those looks are not deceiving. It is, in fact, spirited, sporty, and relatively agile. And while it offers impressive off-road capability, it's designed as an on-road vehicle comfortable cruising at high speeds and negotiating crowded urban streets.
As its name suggests, the Sport's emphasis is on handling. Its design supports this.
The Range Rover Sport is built on a shorter wheelbase than the LR3 and Range Rover. Though all three share the same basic structure, the Sport stretches just 108 inches from the front to the rear wheels compared with 113 inches for the other two models. And while the LR3 and Range Rover offer seven-passenger seating, the Sport seats five people.
The Sport falls between the LR3 and Range Rover from a pricing standpoint, also. The $58,000 Sport costs $20,000 less than the full-size Range Rover, and about as much as a fully loaded LR3.
The Range Rover Sport was all-new for 2006. Land Rover has made no changes since then, except to add more standard equipment each year.
New for 2008 are standard power folding exterior mirrors, an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, power tilt-and-telescope steering, and some new interior trim and materials.
The 2008 Range Rover Sport comes in two models: HSE ($57,725) and Supercharged ($71,175).
The HSE comes with a 300-horsepower, 4.4-liter V8. The Supercharged model features a supercharged V8 displacing 4.2 liters and making 390 horsepower. Both engines drive through the same six-speed CommandShift automatic transmission (also fitted in the top-of-the-line Range Rover). Full-time four-wheel drive with a two-speed, shift-on-the-fly, electronic transfer case is standard, as is an electronically controlled, locking center differential.
HSE standard features include dual-zone, automatic climate control; cruise control; eight-way power front seats; power tilt-and-telescope steering column; power folding outside mirrors, central locks and windows (with one-touch operation from the front passenger's position); three memory settings for driver's seat and mirrors; digital, 14-speaker, surround-sound AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with six-disc, in-dash changer and auxiliary audio inputs; sunroof; front and rear park assist; five function-programmable key fob; Personal Telephone Integration System with Bluetooth capability; and a DVD-based GPS navigation system with voice recognition and dash-mounted, seven-inch, touch-screen LCD display incorporating a picture-in-picture monitor of 4X4 settings and status.
Ride and handling features include Dynamic Stability Control and Active Roll Mitigation, which combine to heighten directional control and rollover resistance; Hill Descent Control, which automatically applies appropriate braking on steep downhill inclines; Terrain Response, a manually selectable set of four pre-programmed suspension and engine management settings for various off-road conditions; and, of course, Land Rover's trademark load-leveling, height-adjustable air suspension.
Options for HSE include Sirius Satellite Radio ($400, plus subscription fee); and 20-inch alloy wheels ($4,000). The Cold Climate package ($1,300) adds heated seats front and rear, a heated windshield and heated washer jets. The Luxury Package ($3,000) includes the Cold Climate package but upgrades the leather upholstery and includes a choice of straight-grained walnut or dark Zebrano wood trim, a center console cool box, and adaptive headlights that pivot when you turn the steering wheel. The Dynamic Response Package ($2,000) combines high-performance Brembo front brakes with the Dynamic Response System, which electronically adjusts the stabilizer bars for optimal cornering.
The Supercharged model, or S/C, comes standard with everything on the HSE plus the Luxury, Cold Climate, and Dynamic Response packages; Sirius Satellite Radio; and 20-inch alloy wheels. Optional Stormer alloy wheels ($1,000) of equal size but with a different design are available, as is Adaptive Cruise Control ($2,000). S/C buyers can also choose straight-grained walnut or dark Zebrano wood interior trim with no extra charge for either.
Optional on both models is an infinitely variable electronic rear differential lock ($500), and a rear-seat entertainment system ($2,500) consisting of two displays integrated into the back sides of the front seat head restraints, a six-disc DVD changer, touchscreen interface, two wireless head sets and a wireless remote control.
Safety features on the Range Rover Sport comprise twin, dual-stage front airbags; front seat-mounted side airbags for torso protection; full-coverage side curtain airbags to protect against head injury in side-impacts and rollovers; child safety seat anchors (LATCH); antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist; and all-terrain traction control.