Following on the heels of the 2013 Range Rover, the all-new 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport made its debut at the 2013 New York auto show. Drawing heavily on the Range Rover's engineering, the 2014 Range Rover Sport blends luxury, performance, and all-terrain capability in one stylish package. It may seem a little strange to unveil a go-anywhere off-roader in New York, where few citizens own cars (and the potholes aren't that big), but Land Rover had good reason to unveil the Sport in the Big Apple -- not only is the U.S. the largest market for the Range Rover Sport, the New York metropolitan area is the vehicle's top market.
A Range Rover More Than A Land Rover
The first-generation Land Rover Range Rover Sport was the automaker's first attempt at extending the Range Rover nameplate, but the car tasked with the duty of expanding the storied brand was based on the Land Rover LR4. Not this time around. The 2014 Range Rover Sport was developed in tandem with the 2013 Range Rover.
That means that the Sport shares the larger Range Rover's aluminum-intensive construction. Like the Range Rover, the Sport saves roughly 800 pounds (depending on equipment) by moving to aluminum construction, in spite of the fact that it has grown in length by three inches. Other exterior dimensions stay roughly the same. Curb weight, unsurprisingly, is down to between 4727 and 5093 pounds, depending on powertrain.
The 2014 Range Rover Sport mirrors its larger sibling under the hood with two offerings: a new 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 rated at 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque and the same 510-hp, 461-lb-ft supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 from last year. Although the supercharged V-6 is down 35 hp and 43 lb-ft from the old naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8, Land Rover estimates that the six-cylinder Sport will make the dash from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.9 seconds, an improvement of 0.3 second from the outgoing car. V-8-powered models do the run 0.9 second quicker than last year, clocking in at an estimated 5.0 seconds.
Both engines are paired to a new ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission with automatic stop/start. To emphasize the driver-focused character of the new Range Rover Sport, the transmission borrows the joystick-like shifter from the 2014 Jaguar F-type instead of using the rotary shifter found in the larger Range Rover and in the Evoque. When things need to come to a stop, the Sport is equipped with new six-piston Brembo front calipers. The front brakes are 14.96 inches in diameter, while the rears are 14.32 inches on V-8 models; V-6 models have 13.8-inch discs both front and back.
Given its position in the Range Rover hierarchy, it's not surprising that the Sport blends styling cues from the fashionable Evoque and the debonair Range Rover. That said, the 2014 model is clearly a practice in evolution rather than revolution -- the silhouette of the new Sport is very similar to that of the outgoing model, with flared haunches, a rakish D-pillar, and clamshell hood. The fender vents have been updated with smaller strakes and the hood now has a pair of extractor vents.
Front and rear lighting assemblies are smaller and utilize LED technology. The headlights include the new Range Rover interlocking-circle LED running lights, and the xenon headlights are styled to look like camera lenses, as on the bigger Range Rover. Around back, the taillights are squarer and mimic the shapes of the running lights. Both front and rear lamp designs extend onto the flanks in a similar, Dali-esque fashion to the other Range Rover models.
Inside, the cabin blends the cosseting interior of the first-generation Range Rover Sport with the elegant simplicity of the 2013 Range Rover. The center stack cascades from a high dashboard and features an eight-inch touchscreen for infotainment functions and three dial-display hybrids for the climate controls. The standard instrument cluster flanks two analog dials on either side of a five-inch TFT display, but buyers can opt for a new 12.3-inch TFT virtual gauge display. As in the Range Rover, the virtual display is configurable and adapts to different drive settings.
The biggest difference for 2014 comes thanks to the seven-inch stretch in the Sport's wheelbase. Land Rover will now offer an optional two-place third-row seat "for occasional trips." The rearmost seats are power-operated and don't detract from luggage space compared to five-seat models.
Ability, Off Road and On
Since this is a Range Rover, the stylish appointments are complemented by go-anywhere capability. There are two four-wheel-drive systems available for the 2014 Range Rover Sport -- the standard system uses an all-new, single-speed transfer case with a Torsen differential. Torque split defaults to 42 percent front, 58 percent rear, but torque distribution can vary to as much as 62 percent front and 78 percent rear, depending on conditions and available grip.
The optional four-wheel-drive system features a two-speed transfer case with a low range and a 50/50 front/rear default torque split. Thanks to the multiplate clutch in the center differential, the system can distribute torque up to 100 percent to either axle, depending on conditions. Shift-on-the-fly capability means that high and low range can be selected at speeds up to 37 mph, and a 2.93:1 low-range ratio means that the Range Rover Sport can crawl along at an extremely low speed.
The 4WD systems are controlled through the new Terrain Response 2 system that debuted on the Range Rover. It has five standard settings -- general, grass/gravel/snow, mud/ruts, sand, and rock crawl -- but now also features a fully automatic mode. Terrain Response 2 alters the responses of the engine, transmission, differentials, and chassis systems to best suit the environment. It can also be your guide: it will suggest when to use low range or when to raise the vehicle to off-road ride height, which is now 2.3 inches higher than before, at 11.2 inches.
Given that most Range Rover Sport owners probably won't take their vehicles off road, the Sport's on-road performance has also been given attention. The Sport uses an all-new, fully independent aluminum suspension with wide-spaced double-wishbones up front, a multilink layout out back, and a four-corner air suspension system. For those looking for a more sporting driving feel, Terrain Response 2 features a dynamic mode that will firm up the suspension, increase steering response, and hold gears longer. When in dynamic mode, the color scheme on the TFT gauge cluster changes to red and the current gear is displayed between the dials.
A Plethora of Safety Technology
To help "ensure that drivers enjoy a relaxed and stress-free experience," Land Rover has equipped the 2014 Range Rover Sport with a smattering of new safety technology. Headlining the gadgets is a new digital forward-facing camera system mounted next to the rearview mirror that captures images of the road ahead. This camera system is used for lane-departure warning, traffic sign recognition, and automatic high-beam assist. Land Rover also offers park assist, which uses the Sport's new electric power-assisted steering to automatically parallel and perpendicular park the vehicle, as well as to assist in exiting tight parallel spots. Park assist works using the car's distance sensors -- of which there are now six on each bumper. Those sensors are also used for a novel feature called flank guard, which alerts you if you're about to scrape a wall or a post during tight maneuvers.
Also offered on the 2014 Range Rover Sport are adaptive cruise control, reverse traffic detection, and blind-spot monitoring with a sensing system that detects a vehicle closing quickly on the blind spots. Land Rover will also offer a surround camera system again.
Pricing and Availability
Following its New York auto show debut, the 2014 Range Rover Sport will go on sale at the end of the summer. There will be four trim levels, two for each engine. The V-6 will be offered in SE and HSE variants starting at $63,495 and $68,495, respectively; V-8 models come in either Supercharged or Autobiography flavors retailing at $79,995 and $93,295, respectively. All prices include an $895 destination and delivery charge.