When I emerged from my apartment this morning, a few neighbors could be seen grimly scraping their windows and preparing for another slushy, icy commute. Poor peasants. I simply climbed into my Range Rover Sport, flipped on the front-windscreen heater (not to be confused with a lowly defroster), provided a squirt of heated washer fluid, and turned the Terrain Response dial to snow-and-gravel mode. Within minutes, I was bombing toward downtown Ann Arbor at a 50-mph clip, my forward view obstructed only by the faint wires of that very handy heated windshield. This, my friends, is the Michigan-in-February equivalent of cruising the Pacific Coast Highway in a BMW M3 convertible.
If I were in the market for a Land Rover, I think I'd pick the Range Rover Sport. I'd be willing to bet that most people can't tell the difference between the RR Sport, which starts at $60,495, and the much more expensive Range Rover, which has a base sticker of $79,275. Of course, our heavily optioned Supercharged edition is more dear than a base Range Rover-but you'll pay $95,195 for a supercharged Range Rover.
The Range Rover Sport almost pulled one over on me. In my first 20 miles behind the wheel, I fell for the acceleration, lush interior, and Range Rover cachet. However, the more I drove the Range Rover Sport, the less I thought that I would ever want to own one. For the $82,345 asking price, the Range Rover Sport requires too many compromises. Chiefly, the navigation interface and radio controls disappoint by being too slow and finicky. Using the physical seek buttons to choose a new station is particularly painful as you must pause at each station rather than rapidly pressing to skip over channels. Rear legroom is too tight and the driver's seat won't slide back far enough for my 6-foot, 3-inch frame. Even assisted by massive struts, the rear hatch feels as if it weighs 80 pounds; when you try to close it, those struts strongly fight every inch of travel. Then there's the handling. The Range Rover Sport is rather well behaved when it comes to ride quality, but is too eager to give up traction and lean in corners.
Give me a Land Rover LR4 at the somewhat lower end or a full-boat Range Rover at the top end of this British automaker's range of off-road vehicles, please. Although I am always pleased to be behind the wheel of the Range Rover Sport, it's an extraordinarily expensive and compromised vehicle. And did you check out the three-ton curb weight?!? It's no wonder this handsome vehicle feels like a brick being pushed through the air: it's a 5891-lb brick.
2010 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Supercharged