- Powerful acceleration
- Excellent driving position
- Unmatched off-road heritage
- Richly and tastefully appointed
- Thirsty engine
- Narrow interior
- Heavy curb weight
- Stiff ride
There may not be a better way to pose on road or off than from behind the wheel of a 2008 Land Rover Range Rover Sport.
The 2008 Land Rover Range Rover Sport cuts a mean profile with its chiseled shape and tall greenhouse (the windows). The shape recalls classic Range Rovers that came along well before the Sport's 2006 introduction, all with elegantly thin roof pillars and a purposeful presence that looked like it was ready to tackle forest trails or desert sands. Lately, however, most Land Rovers are apt to be found conquering the parking lots of upscale malls or cruising the beach boulevards of Palm Beach or Monterey. Regardless of where you see one, the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is a nice piece of design work. There are two Sport models: the base HSE and the Supercharged.
The high degree of style continues inside where characteristically British woods, leathers, and wools (in the carpets) make for a pleasingly rich experience. However, the interior is rather snug, and inexpensive bits and pieces of trim seem to have snuck in the Range Rover Sport.
In terms of differences between the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE and Supercharged, it's almost enough to say that everything that could be standard is standard on the top model. This includes real premium woods, genuine leather seats with heaters, a beverage cooler, an advanced navigation system, and much more.
Controls take some getting used to, as there are multiple settings that prepare the Sport for all manner of on- or off-road driving. The suspension rises and lowers, programs for the electronically controlled throttle and brake system change--it's all very complex, and the pictographs on the controller's dial clue you in as to what setting to use for what conditions. You really don't need to understand all that is happening mechanically; you just need to know it works.
Safety is approached dynamically and with traditional passive equipment. The HSE and Supercharged versions ride on a fully independent automatic load-leveling air suspension, with standard anti-lock disc brakes that include electronic brake force distribution and brake assist. Also included are stability control, Hill Descent Control, and an Active Roll Mitigation feature that helps to stabilize the vehicle during severe handling maneuvers. Airbags protect both rows of occupants. Crash data is not available on this model to date.
The 2008 Land Rover Range Rover Sport goes about its business with a great deal of focus, thanks to its highly developed powertrain and chassis. The HSE uses a 4.4-liter V-8 that generates 300 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque. The Supercharged 4.2-liter version, meanwhile, generates 390 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. This engine will take the vehicle to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. On the Supercharged, speed is dissipated by large Brembo-branded brakes that are necessary due to this SUV's velocity potential and weight. Surprisingly, this mid-size SUV weighs over 5,500 pounds, about the same as the significantly larger Cadillac Escalade. As one would expect from such a heavy vehicle, fuel economy is poor.
Editors at TheCarConnection.com have most recently spent time in a 2008 Range Rover Sport Supercharged during a nasty Midwestern winter. The full-time four-wheel drive performed well in the snow and on dry pavement. The Sport knows how to hustle. Editors have also driven the Sport off-road, and it is very capable. One of the first things that strikes a driver is the Sport's expansive windows, which make for excellent visibility.
Even under Ford's ownership, Land Rover vehicles aren't known for their quality. These are extremely complex vehicles, and their record of reliability as measured by any number of quality surveys is well below average.
BMW's new X6 and the 2009 Infiniti FX 50 pose a dilemma for the Range Rover Sport, as these all-wheel-drive competitors focus on road performance, which is what so many buyers are seeking. Not many buyers need to traverse mud bogs on the way to the country club.
For those with buy-American sentiments, the Cadillac Escalade is a larger alternative to the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover Sport. The Escalade offers more interior room than the Sport, and the 6.2-liter V-8 in the Cadillac helps the Escalade keep up with the Land Rover, even when equipped with the supercharged engine.