KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 4/28/2011
For those with an active lifestyle - and those simply wanting to look as if they're active - there are few better choices than the 2011 Land Rover Range Rover Sport. With an attitude more recreational than its larger Range Rover sibling, and a profile sexier than the more upright (and less costly) LR4, the Range Rover Sport finds a nice middle ground between "sport" and "utility." In point of fact, it may be the poster boy for "sport utility." Despite weighing - with passengers - some three tons, the Sport's on-road dynamic effectively hides it. And despite its performance-biased rubber, it can climb huge, Moab-type rocks in a single bound. Its price tag continues to escalate, and the number of options (seemingly) continues to proliferate, but if you're looking for a big-buck, do-everything luxo-tourer, the Land Rover Range Rover Sport should be on your short list.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you're looking for that one vehicle that can both row your boat and tow it, the Range Rover Sport constitutes one very attractive option. An aggressive on-road dynamic (in any season) and a credible off-road capability are packaged in elegant sheetmetal, while you and your passengers are wrapped and coddled by a world class interior. What's not to like?
You May Not Like This Car If...
Conscientious off-roaders prefer to "tread lightly," a global initiative to minimize the environmental impact of off-roading pursuits. Increasingly, on-road users want to do the same, and the Range Rover Sport makes that difficult with some three tons to propel and an EPA highway rating that is lower than in 2009. As such, most Land Rover products - to date - come closer to being tree muggers than huggers.
What's New for 2011
In 2010 the Range Rover Sport enjoyed a significant freshening, receiving two new 5.0-liter powerplants (normally aspirated and supercharged), along with styling updates reflective of the increased power. This year the changes are less substantive: The Extended Leather Package and contrast stitching on seats, center console and door panels are now standard on HSE Lux and Supercharged trims, a new Vision Assist Package is available, and both standard and optional audio systems have been upgraded.
The Range Rover Sport's sophistication undoubtedly pays dividends in effectively disguising the Sport's sheer mass, but even with a rigid structure, supple suspension and composed ride you won't confuse the Range Rover Sport with anyone's "sport" sedan. That said, the addition of the 5.0-liter V8 in 2010 provided a big boost, and its supercharged variant an even bigger boost. As Carroll Shelby once observed, the only substitute for cubic inches is cubic money. But the Sport's slightly smaller footprint relative to the full-boat Range Rover, and lower center of gravity relative to its LR4 stable mate, provides a cut-and-thrust capability the others lack. Going off-road, you'll simply be amazed by its capability - and alacrity - in the face of any dirt-specific challenge.
Terrain Response System
With the advent of Terrain Response Land Rover essentially rewrote the Bible of Offroading (New Testament). Suddenly, the SUV platform's capability was extended to virtually any off-road condition. In the mud it's a stud; in the sand it lends a hand. And if you encounter grass, gravel, snow or the big rock, it has you covered.
Taking a page from Porsche, the Range Rover catalog essentially allows you to tailor the Sport to your own specific set of preferences, especially with the color selection. Thirteen exterior color choices (three are new for '11) combine with ten interior choices. If that's not enough, opt for the Autobiography catalog, with its own distinct palette of colors and textures.
Designed - as the marketing types would put it - to "cosset and cocoon," passengers and driver benefit form a command seating position and (generally) unrestricted visibility. Immediately in front of the driver is command central, with clear, legible instrumentation, air conditioning controls conveniently located, and operation of Range Rover's seminal Terrain Response system within easy reach. And as proof that there will always be an England, the center-mounted clock is analog. The center console houses the hub - a full-color touch screen - for all audio, communication and navigation. And there are as many upholstery choices as Prince Charles has recorded conversations. It may be a big buck car, but (happily) the attention to detail fully reflects - or exceeds - the MSRP.
There's "little new under the sun," and in the rarefied world of off-roading that's generally true. However, the Range Rover Sport's design team did a bang-up job of combining Range Rover's design DNA with a sense of verve rarely seen this side of BMW's MSport or Mercedes-Benz's AMG. In short, the Sport's two-box profile far exceeds the sum of its parts, with a raked windshield and tapered roofline effectively concealing the Sport's significant mass. And whether for in-town adventures or outbound travel, the Sport's minimal overhangs, generous (and adjustable) ground clearance and expansive greenhouse are just the ticket for both driver and passengers. Finally, a two-piece rear liftgate allows a return to real tailgating - during an NFL lockout...
Notable Standard Equipment
In its standard, only $60,000 spec the Range Rover Sport HSE is comprehensively equipped, boasting all of the performance, comfort and security features you might expect at that level of investment. The beauty - as we see it - of the standard, normally aspirated Sport is that all of the good stuff is engineered in - and not added on. Its 5.0-liter V8 is appropriately robust, the all-independent suspension is both supple and controlled, and the permanent 4WD with four-wheel electronic traction control and two-speed electronic transfer box works equally well in Kenya or Kansas. And if on the Back 40 in Kansas, the standard Terrain Response - click on grass - will ensure getting back to the barn in time for dinner. Safety is also comprehensively addressed, with the latest generation Bosch ABS, Electronic Brake Assist for extra braking in an emergency, Active Roll Mitigation to stabilize the vehicle, and a six airbag Supplemental Restraint System to protect you in the event of an actual accident.
Notable Optional Equipment
Opt for the Range Rover Sport Supercharged and the (approximately) $15,000 surcharge nets you the most powerful (510 horsepower) Range Rover Sport ever created. Beyond the blower, the Sport Supercharged provides you with its own Titan grille and side vents, chrome tailpipes, Premium Perforated Leather seating (with contrast stitching) and 20-inch, 5-spoke alloy wheels. Also part of the Supercharged kit is Dynamic Response, which modified the Sport's suspension to enhance both comfort and control. Flagship of the fleet is the Autobiography, a vehicle Land Rover terms "the ultimate expression of sporting luxury and individual style." A host of options are available for interior personalization. In combination with the Sport's Exterior Design Pack you can pimp your ride from the comfort of your Land Rover showroom.
Under the Hood
In this - and only this - the product team at Land Rover kept it simple. The introduction of the 5.0-liter V8 family was big news - and a huge improvement - in 2010. The normally aspirated 5.0 is almost as powerful as its predecessor's supercharged 4.4 - while the supercharged 5.0 moves the meter that much further. In the world of big buck SUVs, this is a double feature: King Kong and Godzilla. Of course, set in an era of rising gas prices and the (perceived) threat of scarcity, city EPA ratings of 13 (normally aspirated) and 12 (Supercharged) lead one to drive strategically on your tankful of premium unleaded. (And, if in Moab, carry a spare can of gas.) Diesel, anyone?
375 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
375 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/18
5.0-liter V8 Supercharged
510 horsepower @ 6000-6500 rpm
461 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2500-5500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/17
A comfortably equipped 2011 Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE can be obtained for a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail price (MSRP) of just over $60,000, while its Supercharged sibling represents an investment - with no additional options or accessories - of just over $75,000. Topping the lineup is the Range Rover Sport Autobiography, which impacts your personal history with a required commitment of approximately $86,000. Refer to kbb.com's Fair Purchase Price for a realistic guide to what consumers are paying in your market area. In terms of resale, the Land Rover Range Rover family is performing far better than one might have expected, however it still trails the Mercedes-Benz GL and BMW's X6.