I’m not the biggest Range Rover guy, but I really enjoyed my time with this SUV. Although I know the ute is still a capable off-roader (so too are most Land Rovers), I was able to play with this toy only on the street – the environment that most, if not all, Range Rover Sport models are destined for.
Unlike the Land Cruiser, the driving dynamics of the Range Rover aren’t compromised in favor of off-road chops. Even though it rides a bit trucky, the air suspension at all four corners kept things comfortable and compliant. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s floaty, which disappoints me – I’d expect that in the larger Range Rover, but the Sport model shouldn’t be quite as soft. Can I at least select a sport suspension mode? Please?
I’m also not sure I’d spend the extra cash for the supercharged model. Although it moves the beast around OK, it could really use the extra 30 ponies given to a similar engine in the Jaguar XF. I did, however, fall in love with the six-speed automatic transmission. It occasionally hunted for gears in sport mode, but the shifts were silky-smooth and rather quick. I do wish kickdowns were quicker in normal mode, however – for highway passing or merging I usually shoved the shifter into sport mode, letting me tap into the rev band sooner than later. Still, with such a technique, I wonder if I’d find solace in the base 300-hp model instead. I imagine I could…
I was a bit surprised at how narrow the cockpit feels. I’ll attribute that in part to the wide center console, but the adjustable armrests – squeezed between each bucket seat and the center console’s own armrest – made things worse.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
The Range Rover Sport can’t be mistaken for anything but a Land Rover. Sure, its supercharged engine puts out 390 hp, beating both the BMW X5 4.8i and the Porsche Cayenne S, but it hasn’t sacrificed its Land Rover heritage while chasing performance numbers. I like that the large side windows haven’t given way to a high beltline, and I even like the quirky controls that immediately let you know you’re in a Land Rover. Reportedly, like all Land Rovers, it’s also quite good off-road, although there aren’t any off-road courses along my 12-mile commute that would allow me to confirm that claim. Like professional golfer John Daly, the Range Rover Sport is too heavy, too expensive, and too thirsty, but it’s still a lot of fun to hang out with.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
Land Rover did a great job styling the RR Sport: its beefy, sporty appearance goes perfectly with its clearly Land Rover look. I also agree with Amy about the expansive glass; couple the big windows with the fact that this vehicle sits up so high and you can look straight across the cabin at truckers while you’re cruising down the highway. Evan may not dig the cozy cabin, but I actually love the intimate, sporty driving position, particularly compared with the commodious full-flavor Range Rover.
The air suspension rides nicely over the parking-garage speed bumps, but the handling is what’s most impressive about the Range Rover Sport. Despite its school-bus steering wheel, the Sport handles much better than any 5700-pound brick has any right to. In early 2007, I bombed around in a similar vehicle on the excellent roads of Texas Hill Country for a feature story, and this Landie was quite impressive. Read the full feature story here:Sporty SUVs
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
2009 Range Rover Sport Supercharged
Price as tested: $71,950
-9-spoke 20-inch alloys – $1000
-Adaptive Cruise Control – $2000
-Rear Seat Entertainment System – $2500
Fuel Economy: 12 / 18 / 14 (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 4.2L supercharged V-8
HP: 390 HP @ 5,750 rpm
Torque: 410 ft-lbs @ 3,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Weight: 5764 lb
20 x 9.5-inch aluminum-alloy wheels
275/40YR-20 radial tires