2011 Range Rover Sport

Matt Tierney

The Range Rover Sport, like its more expensive sibling, the Range Rover, has a sense of occasion about it that no other sport-utility vehicle comes close to matching. Yes, I know it's ridiculously heavy, at close to three tons. Yes, I know that this supercharged version is sinfully inefficient. Yes, I know that it's outrageously expensive. But when I slide into this brown-on-brown, opulent cabin, I forgive the Range Rover Sport all of its sins. I can't think about those petty matters, because I'm too busy caressing the meticulously stitched piece of dark brown leather that stretches across the dashboard and the seats. I would love a club chair this well-upholstered in my living room. At this price point, the details are what matters, and the Range Rover Sport gets so many of them right. I even admired the outer corners of the front seat bottoms, which are done in a brown suede-like fabric that perfectly matches the adjacent brown leather. Hmmm, can I have a loveseat made out of that fabric to go with my club chair?

OK, I realize that I cannot drive around in my living room, but I can do so in a Range Rover Sport. From the driver's seat, the sightlines in all directions are surprisingly good. The low side glass gives everyone a splendid view of the surrounding scenery, and the low front cowl and upright front seats give you that cliched command view of the road. Unlike so many other SUVs, though, the Range Rover Sport seems reasonably sized, especially when you're climbing in and out of it. No stupid running boards here, because they're not needed.

Aside from its fuel inefficiency, the new-last-year supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 and its six-speed automatic make for a quite compelling powertrain. And it's appropriate that "Sport" is part of this vehicle's name, because its steering, braking, and body control are remarkably good for such a heavy vehicle. It was developed partly on the Nuerburgring and that's where Land Rover introduced it to the automotive media many years ago. Which brings us to the fact that the Range Rover Sport is getting pretty old. To which I say, so what? If you like it, and you can afford it, have at it.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

I too cannot argue any of Joe's points about the sinfully seductive Range Rover Sport. Range Rovers offer some of the nicest interiors in the automobile business: top-grade materials, ambiance, comfort, style -- it's all there.

My only complaint about the driving experience (besides the outdated touch screen) is that the transmission isn't always smooth off the line during moderate acceleration, as if it wants to start in second gear, before roughly bumping down into first.

No matter. For those who can afford it, this (and any) Range Rover is clearly a worthwhile indulgence.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

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