Second generation Ranger Rover Sport is more agile, capable than before

Posted Friday, Jun. 27, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Land Rover’s Range Rover brand was introduced to the United States in 1987, but it wasn’t until 2006 that the British SUV builder added the “Sport” model to the lineup, creating a second vehicle bearing the Range Rover name.

The company, which is now owned by India’s Tata Motors (as is its sister company, Jaguar, the British sports car brand), has since added a third Range Rover model, the entry level Evoque.

Pricewise, that puts the Range Rover Sport in the middle of a three-vehicle lineup. The Sport is marketed as a performance-oriented sport-touring SUV. It’s exceptional in performance and handling, both on- and off-road; attractive, with obvious Land Rover bones under smoother, more modern lines; and incredibly comfortable for long-distance driving.

For 2014, the Ranger Rover Sport is all-new, entering its second generation, and is even more agile and capable than before. It can seat up to seven people, with the optional two-person third row ($2,750, includes 20-inch alloy wheels and tire-repair kit instead of spare).

Available in four trims, Sport prices start at $62,600 for the SE (my tester), and run as high as $92,400 for the Autobiography model. With the redesign, it gains some new high-tech equipment such as Terrain Response, and two more-powerful, more-efficient engines.

SE and HSE models have a supercharged 3.0-liter, 340-horsepower V-6 engine, while the V-8 Supercharged and Autobiography models have supercharged 5.0-liter, 510-horsepower eight-cylinder engines. All models come with a new eight-speed automatic transmission.

The SE is a “basic” vehicle (if you can call a $62,000 vehicle “basic”), with standard features such as start-stop technology, full-time four-wheel drive, four-wheel electronic traction control, the eight-speed electronically controlled automatic with command shift, multiple suspension modes (Access, Standard, Off-Road and Extended Height), side-door impact beams, hazard lights under heavy braking, rear fog lights, rearview camera, and a front visual display, to name a few.

EPA estimates for the V-6 engine are 17 mpg city/23 highway. For the V-8, they are 14/19. Driving about 50/50 neighborhood and highway, with the air conditioner on “cold” and idling in long lines at drive-throughs, I managed to average 21.1 mpg with my V-6 tester – not bad for a large SUV.

The mostly aluminum construction helps keep the Range Rover Sport lighter, improving fuel efficiency. The Supercharged models are about 366 pounds heavier.

With a large selection of exclusive color and design options, the Autobiography model has sporty luxury, individually expressed using the finest materials. Along with new metallic exteriors, Autobiography offers two luxury oriented interiors and five sporty interiors with names like Le Mans and Monaco.

Unique features include a Titan front grille, Titan side vents, 20-inch, nine-spoke alloy wheels and stainless steel door tread plates.

All Sport models come with leather 14-way power front seats, heated windshield, 380-watt Meridian audio with eight speakers, and an eight-inch touch screen.

The HSE model adds perforated-leather heated seats, 20-inch wheels, sliding panoramic sunroof, front fog lamps, and Shadow Zebrano wood trim.

Extras on the Autobiography include heated steering wheel and rear seats, 16-way power seats, leather dash and center console, front console cooler, and the Meridian Premium 825-watt surround-sound system with 19 speakers.

My SE model was Corris Gray outside, with an Espresso and Ivory interior. The standard 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels were replaced by 20-inch, five-split-spoke alloy wheels with a pewter finish, part of an HSE package for $5,000, which also brought the Oxford perforated leather on the bolstered sport seats; choice of seven additional seat colors (mine were ivory); aluminum tread plates with Range Rover lettering; light atlas (grille finisher, hood and fender vents, tow eye cover and lamp surrounds in bright aluminum mesh); remote gate/garage opener; silver Sport badge on the tailgate; and Shadow Zebrano wood trim (light and dark grain) on the center stack and center console.

An Extra Duty Package ($1,300) brought Terrain Response 2 Auto, which allows the driver to let the vehicle adjust terrain response settings automatically, or manually override the system for a specific mode. I didn’t do any off-road testing, but I understand that lots of people buy such vehicles because of what they can do, and then never do it. That’s not usually the case with us – we buy off-road-capable vehicles and take them into the most-rugged places.

The Range Rover Sport is well able to handle the most difficult off-road driving, thanks to its all-terrain antilock braking, cornering brake control, all-terrain dynamic stability control, hill-descent control, emergency brake assist, roll stability control, active speed limiter, and gradient release control.

My tester also came with a tow package for $900.

Safety features such as standard front, side and head-curtain air bags for the driver and front passenger, head-curtain air bags for rear outboard passengers, hookups for child seats, power child locks for rear doors and windows, anti-trap feature on all windows, pre-tensioners on the front seatbelts, front and rear park distance control, and rain/speed sensing wipers add another level of confidence.

The Sport handled exceptionally well, with smooth, rapid acceleration, easy braking and confident turning. The ride was typical Range Rover, but with somewhat less sway in curves and on rough surfaces.

Leg room was exceptional, with 42.2 inches in the front and 37.0 inches in the middle. The cargo area was 73.7 inches long, 44 inches wide at the wheel wells/50.6 inches at the walls, and 30.2 inches deep, giving plenty of room for luggage for four or five people for an extended trip.

Electronic cruise control, power front seats with lumbar support and adjustable bolsters, front seat memory, power/heated door mirrors, retained power for all windows, trip computer and message center, 60/40 folding rear seats, privacy glass, interior mood lights and power tailgate are all standard equipment for the Range Rover Sport SE.

At the top of the dash is an eight-inch touch-screen with driver-information system, GPS hard-disc drive navigation with off-road capability and “say what you see” intuitive voice control (a voice activation system with visual prompts to control multiple functions), personal telephone integration system with Bluetooth, steering wheel audio controls, auxiliary audio jack/iPod/USB and Bluetooth audio streaming.

I found the touch screen sluggish, hard to see and reach, and confusing. Some functions required several steps to accomplish, such as the seat heater, and the labels were not clear and intuitive (read; easy to follow from one step to the next).

My tester also came with a $3,545 Luxury Climate, Comfort, and Visibility Package, with heated-and-cooled front and rear seats, a cooler box in the front console (holds about four cans or bottles), 16-way power front seats, auto-dimming outside mirrors, heated windshield and steering wheel, four-zone climate control (grandkids really liked that, drove grandma crazy turning the fan up and down), and adaptive headlights with high beam assist.

A $2,210 Vision and Convenience Package supplied a surround camera system, park assist (self-parking, a plus on a large SUV), soft door closure, blind spot monitoring with closing-vehicle sensing, and rear traffic detection.

The Meridian Premium audio package ($1,950) added surround sound with 825 watts and 19 speakers, including subwoofer; satellite radio; and HD radio.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams appear weekly in the Star-Telegram. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com .

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