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.
The cold elements soundly defeated by the ingenuity of the British Empire, I was able to focus on the finer aspects of the Land Rover experience. That includes wood trim that, by golly, looks like real wood, a fantastic stereo, and very sporting perforated leather seats. My one complaint is with the navigation unit, which is as slow as the similar system on our departed Four Seasons Jaguar XF but twice as confusing.
I wasn’t able to test the Sport’s supposed performance credentials — I’m cocky, not stupid — but the exhaust note of the 510-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 and the decidedly firm set of the suspension promise some high-roofed fun when the roads thaw.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
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.
Ever since the Range Rover Sport debuted in 2005, I’ve loved its sporty, cockpit-style interior. This particular test vehicle has lovely black leather seats with contrasting white stitching. The interior also features nice fake wood around the center stack; in fact, I think Land Rover probably offers the best fake wood on the market today, and I mean that in the best way. Many people despise SUVs for various reasons (such as the RR Sport’s 12/17 mpg city/highway EPA rating), but to me, the Range Rover Sport is easy to love.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
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.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
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.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
2010 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Supercharged
Base price (with destination): $74,195
Price as tested: $82,345
5.0L V-8 engine
6-speed automatic transmission with command shift
4-wheel electronic traction control
20 x 9.5″ aluminum alloy wheels
4-wheel disc brakes
All terrain ABS
Electronic brake force distribution
All terrain dynamic stability control
Hill descent control
Emergency brake assist
Electronic air suspension
Heated front and rear seats
Heated windshield and heated washer jets
Dual-zone automatic climate control
GPS navigation system
480-watt speakers with surround sound
AM/FM, CD, satellite radio
Voice control for audio and navigation
Telephone integration system with Bluetooth
Auxiliary jack, IPOD/USB Port
Options on this vehicle:
Rear seat entertainment — $2500
– 6 DVD, 2 headrest displays and remote
– Straight grain walnut wood
Adaptive Cruise – $2000
Extended leather pack — $1000
– Upper dash, armrests and top door panels
20-inch aluminum wheels — $1000
Surround Camera System — $800
– 5-camera 360 degree exterior view
Rear differential lock — $500
HD digital radio — $350
Key options not on vehicle:
12 / 17 / 14 mpg
Size: 5.0L supercharged V-8
Horsepower: 510 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 461 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
6-speed automatic with CommandShift
Curb weight: 5891 lb
20-inch aluminum wheels
275/40R20 Michelin Latitude Diamaris performance tires