So after a week with the Range Rover Sport, I am thoroughly impressed with it as a travel companion. In fact, just as some BMW owners with unlimited funds prefer the 5 series over the 7 series, I actually preferred the stance, utility, and overall experience of the Range Rover Sport vs. the top-of-the-line Range Rover. First off, the cabin is eerily quiet save for the wonderful whooshing soundtrack of the supercharger. The 20-inch wheels even offer the best compromise of awesome looks and utility off of the road.
The fuel economy numbers weren’t the best, but not awful. After a long highway trip, I netted 22 MPG overall for the week. One thing is for sure: You certainly do not need to spring for the optional 5.0-liter supercharged V8. The 3.0 340-horsepower V6 can still press you into the seatbacks pretty darn well.
Because I did not go off-roading and there was no snow, I couldn’t really test the Terrain Response system and the dial with all of its settings. But for most people, the unit defaults to “Auto” so you can just let the Range Rover computer sort out the traction situation and choose what is best.
The Meridian audio system is sublime, just as it was in the Range Rover Sport’s more expensive big brother, although I wished the subwoofer had a bit more authority.
My only minor quibble is with the new Command Shift shifter that controls the eight-speed transmission. Like BMW, the unit has to be stabbed forward to engage reverse, and pulled backwards with a little button on the rear to engage drive. There is a small button on top to request Park. I couldn’t get used to it. Man, if they only went with the rotary dial like Jaguar or Chrysler or, again, the Range Rover Sport’s bigger brother.
But overall, the Range Rover Sport is an excellent choice for a high-end SUV that still doesn’t break the bank with tons of caché. Mine came in at $72,000 with a great level of equipment, putting you in Cayenne land with Macan Turbo pricing. And it gives you some level of credibility both on the street and in the mud. All of today’s vehicle technologies are represented, and if you want your window sticker to inflate, you can go for adaptive cruise control, extra cameras, and other goodies.
Disclosure: Land Rover provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.