The Range Rover Sport is one of those vehicles that you just can’t wait to get your hands on. This journalist has driven them before, and Land Rover just seems to keep improving the Sport every year. This week we’ll be testing the 2013 Sport HSE with the Luxury Package. This Range Rover Sport has all the luxury that Land Rover has to offer and it comes with the off-road capability that the brand is known for. It boasts a powerful V8 and an agile chassis worthy of the Sport designation. This will be the last generation before Land Rover launches the new 2014 model that was just unveiled in New York.
Luxurious and rugged
The Range Rover Sport seats five and fits between the larger flagship Range Rover and the smaller Range Rover Evoque crossover. It shares platforms, drive systems, suspension, and powertrain with the Land Rover LR4 but it comes with more standard features and upscale styling. The Range Rover Sport is designed to go anywhere its owner wants to take it. It’s just as much at home going to the theatre as it is on a backcountry trail at 13,000 ft elevation. This week we did both as we pulled up to The Capital Grille in downtown Denver and had a valet park the upscale SUV. We also took it off-road for some fun in the mountains west of town.
But the Range Rover Sport doesn’t come cheap with a sticker price of $60,045 for the HSE. Add in the Premium LOGIC7 audio package, the Luxury package and destination, and the price is up near $70,000. The Sport competes in the crowded luxury SUV segment with the Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, Audi Q7, BMW X5, Volvo XC90, Infiniti FX, Porsche Cayenne, and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Its starting price, however, is the highest of this group, and arguably only the Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Porsche, and VW are priced comparably.
Loaded with luxury features
But the Range Rover Sport is in a class of its own and comes loaded with standard luxury features like leather upholstery; dual-zone automatic climate control with pollen filter; GPS navigation system with touch screen, 380-watt 14-speaker harman/kardon AM/FM/ audio system with virtual CD/MP3 player, iPod and USB; rain-sensing wipers; front and rear Park Distance Control; power mirrors, seats; power sunroof; HomeLink garage door opener; footwell lights and puddle lights;
This Sport tester came with the optional audio upgrade to an 825-watt harman/kardon system with 17 speakers plus satellite and HD digital radio ($1,650). The Luxury Package ($4,700) added heated front and rear seats, windshield, washer jets and steering wheel. It also comes with plus premium leather including a leather-wrapped steering wheel; adjustable side bolsters for the driver’s seat; a climate-controlled storage console; 20-inch alloy wheels; and 480 watts worth of harman/kardon sound with a changer for six physically present CDs.
A commanding view from inside
Step inside the cabin and it feels like a British stateroom. The interior is beautifully finished and the quality is what you would expect from a luxury vehicle in this price range. The seats sit high and give a commanding view through the windshield and side windows. The interior is made for comfort and includes pus-button start, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, satellite navigation with voice recognition and full power everything.
You won’t find a more responsive SUV with the Sport’s 375-hp 5.0-liter V8 engine and six-speed automatic transmission. It will hurl the luxury four-door Sport from 0-60 mph in only 7.2 seconds. And it features strong performance on the highway for everyday driving, passing and pulling steep hills in the mountains. The ZF six-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly, up or down, with Normal, Sport and Manual modes.
It will handle the most rugged terrain
The Range Rover Sport handles superbly in the corners due to its air suspension. It handled like a much smaller vehicle with very little body roll in tight corners at high speeds in the mountains west of Denver. The 20-inch low-profile Michelin tires on this Sport tester undoubtedly helped and are made for performance driving. 19-inch wheels are available with all-season tires for more off-road use. And the Range Rover Sport will go anywhere its owner wants to take it.
We took the Sport up a steep mountain trail, and it handled anything we could throw at it. The Terrain Response system has five settings: Highway, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand, and Rock Crawl. All the driver has to do is look out the windshield and select for the correct terrain, and the Range Rover Sport will drive accordingly, including setting the suspension height.
The Range Rover Sport is a vehicle that is designed for the discriminating buyer looking for that extra luxury and prestige. It will cost more than the competition, but will reward with its extra off-road ability and performance. Its off-road capability is unsurpassed, and the 2013 Range Rover Sport is designed for those who need to go places other SUVs will need to turn back.
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