By Tom Crosby
The all-new 2014 Range Rover Sport has a satisfying exhaust growl from the starting line that adds on-road sport panache to a vehicle that has the off-road DNA every Range Rover possesses.
All Range Rovers are a product of manufacturer Land Rover, owned by Tata Motors of India. Positioned between the larger Range Rover models ($20,000 or so more) and the smaller, agile Range Rover Evoque (roughly $20,000 less), the Sport retains most of its stylish, sporty profile with front and rear lights redesigned along with side fender vents.
The new Sport contains 75 percent unique parts to make it safer and enhance performance. Our test drive used the new-this-year 3.0-liter V6 engine (a 5.0 liter V8 is available) with all-wheel drive and a smoothly shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.
With $15,000 for six optional packages that included off-road terrain response, towing (up to 7,715 pounds), blind spot alert and numerous luxury options like Meridian premium audio, the final cost topped $78,400, a price higher than some similarly outfitted SUV competitors.
Handling was excellent -- on or off-road -- with minimal lean and taut steering. Acceleration was sports car quick, aided by reduced weight due to more aluminum used in body construction. Our on-road ride was not plush but adequate with a suspension system that has to deal with off-road and off-balance challenges.
The automatic shifter requires non-intuitive manipulation and slips too easily into neutral. The cabin is comfortable enough for four adults and spacious for rear-seated children. While rear seat room improved slightly, it still's a tight fit for three average sized adults and rear seat belts exhibited little elasticity. (A third row is an option.) Driver visibility is hindered by raised rear head restraints but the high seating position allows for good side views and the back up camera helps.
A panoramic sunroof sits above front and back seats. Comfort features include a two-tier center console with a cooling box, generous front door map pockets, rear climate controls and front door puddle lights saying Range Rover.
A spacious trunk has a full-size spare and storage space increases dramatically with the rear seat folded flat. A stop/start feature reduces gas mileage and at night high beams are automatically dimmed when oncoming traffic approaches.
Rich looking and feeling interior materials bring luxury to life, accented with chrome and wood accents. The multi-functional dashboard screen controls are often complicated and slow to react but contain necessary detail.
LIKES: Looks, handling, off-road prowess
DISLIKES: Rear seats, price
BOTTOM LINE: RR Sport offers family fun; off-road muscle
- Base price plus destination fee: $63,525
- Curb weight: 4,727 lbs.
- Wheelbase: 115.1 inches
- Length: 191 inches
- Width: 78.1 inches
- Engine specs: 3.0 liter, V6, super charged
- Horsepower: 340 hp at 6,500 rpms
- Torque: 332 ft.-lbs. at 3,500 rpms
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- EPA Rating: 17 mpg city, 23 mpg hwy
- Range: 27.7 gallons
- Performance: 0-60 in 6.9 seconds
Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.