Land Rover launched the Ranger Rover Sports in a bid to attract buyers more interested in a vehicle to handle mundane “real world” chores than an SUV capable of leading safaris into the Serengeti and beyond.
A bit smaller than its Range Rover namesake, the Range Rover Sport debuted as a 2006 model and the early TV ad campaign even emphasized the vehicle’s capabilities in a city setting, showing it escaping the traffic jams of Tokyo by navigating the city’s subterranean drainage tunnels.
Oh, the vehicle still retained the capability of the more exotic ventures associated with the Land Rover brand, and more recent television commercials even touch on that aspect of the Sport’s attributes, showing it speeding up Pike’s Peak and then, after a brief pause, going off-road down the other side of the mountain.
But the main thrust of the Range Rover Sport is provide a competitive, luxury SUV to those whose off-the-pavement driving experiences likely won’t be any more challenging than a farm lane or gravel parking lot.
For them, how the Range Rover Sport looks driving up to the country club parking valet often is more important than how it climbs over rocks.
Though its outward appearance isn’t all that radically different from past Range Rover Sports -- a bit less squarish and with a sleeker overall profile that gives the impression of motion even when sitting still -- Land Rover made some key changes to the 2014 Sport.
Thanks to the use of high-strength aluminum, the 2014 model is nearly 800 pounds lighter than its immediate predecessor even though it is longer by 2.5 inches. A wheelbase that also is longer than its immediate predecessor’s by 7.0 inches gives the 2014 Sport extra cabin space for the passengers’ comfort. It also makes available third-row seating, though it really is suitable only for small children.
The Sport comes in essentially two models with an optional package for each version.
The base SE comes with a 3.0-liter, supercharged V6 engine that likely is going to going to be adequate for most folks. It’s rated at 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque and will move you from zero-to-60 mph in 6.9 seconds, according to company clockers.
Standard features on the SE model include 19-inch wheels, front and rear parking sensors, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheels, 14-way power adjustable front seats, and lots of leather throughout the interior, as is usual in the luxury segment.
An HSE option package adds 20-inch wheels, fog lights, a sliding panoramic sunroof, perforated leather upholstery, and wood or aluminum trim on the interior.
If the V6 doesn’t satisfy your appetite for power, the Sport also is offered with a supercharged, 5.0-liter V8 that makes available 510 hp and 461 lb.-ft. of torque at all four wheels. Land Rover says the zero-to-60 time is 5.0 seconds flat, which is nearly a second quicker than the previous model.
Both engines are mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters (optional). The transmission on the V8 features with a low-range transfer case for serious off-roading as standard. It’s a $1,300 option for the V6.
The trimming in overall vehicle weight, the two extra gears (over the previous models’ six) and the standard Intelligent Start/Stop system that shuts down the engine when idling at intersections boost fuel economy to 17 miles-per-gallon city, 23 highway with the V6 and 14/19 with the V8.
Last year’s figures were 13/18 for the HSE (which had a normally aspirated V8) and 12/17 for the supercharged V8.
The Range Rover Sport is a very comfortable vehicle to ride in whether on the highway or on stop-and-go jaunts around town. There’s a feeling of power for the driver, who doesn’t sit quite as high as in the big brother Range Rover but still has a commanding view of the road and all that is around the vehicle. The Sport is agile enough for tight parking lot maneuvers and fits comfortably in most spots.
Alas, South Florida terrain does not offer much in the way of challenging opportunities for off-roading and climbing mountains, but just based on the Land Rover reputation there’s little doubt the Sport will be up to all but the most difficult tasks.
The Range Rover Sport starts at $63,495 (including destination and delivery charges) for the SE with the HSE package boosting that to $68,495.
The V8 model carries an MSRP of $79,995. Adding the Autobiography package to the V8 (21-inch wheels, adaptive headlights with automatic high-beam control, 14-way adjustable ventilated seats, heated rear seats, blind-spot monitoring, three-zone climate control, etc.) puts the base MSRP at $93,295.
For an overview of the Range Rover Sport plus some extra details, check out the accompanying slide show.