- Very well equipped
- Excellent seating position
- Surprisingly good handling
- Harsh ride
- Heavy, overweight feel
- Cramped cabin
- Fuel economy no better than roomier Range Rover
The 2009 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is the perfect over-the-top luxury SUV to be seen in.
The 2009 Land Rover Range Rover Sport pairs a slightly slimmed-down, chiseled profile, resembling the larger Range Rover, with a lower center of gravity and underpinnings that are tuned more for on-road performance than hard-core off-roading. 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 looks like it's ready to tackle forest trails or desert sands.
Available in two models, HSE and Supercharged, the 2009 Range Rover Sport HSE uses a 4.4-liter V-8 that generates 300 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque. The 4.2-liter Supercharged model generates 390 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque—which will accelerate the Supercharged model to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. The Supercharged dissipates speed with large Brembo brakes that are actually quite necessary due to this SUV's velocity potential and weight. Surprisingly, this mid-size SUV weighs more than 5,500 pounds—about the same as the roomier Range Rover and the significantly larger Cadillac Escalade. Unsurprisingly, fuel economy is poor, at a rated 12 mpg city, 18 highway with either engine.
Editors at TheCarConnection.com have driven the Land Rover Range Rover Sport several times, most recently during a nasty Midwestern winter. The full-time four-wheel drive performed well in the snow and on dry pavement. From previous drives, TheCarConnection.com knows that the Range Rover Sport can hustle on curvy roads, with a suspension that’s similar to that of a sport sedan—if only it weren’t so heavy. Editors have also driven the Sport off-road, where it is very capable.
The Sport’s interior is snug, and inexpensive bits and pieces of trim seem to have snuck into the model range. One of the first things that strike a driver is the Sport's expansive windows, which make for excellent visibility. British woods, leathers, and wools (in the carpets) contribute to a pleasingly rich experience.
Because there are multiple settings to prepare the 2009 Land Rover Range Rover Sport for all manner of on- or off-road driving, the Sport’s controls demand some familiarization. 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.
The differences between the 2009 Range Rover Sport HSE and Range Rover Sport Supercharged is that most of the option features on the HSE come as standard on the Supercharged, including real premium woods, genuine leather seats with heaters, a beverage cooler, an advanced navigation system, and much more.
The 2009 Land Rover Range Rover Sport gets a number of appearance changes for 2009, including almond-colored leather trim with nutmeg-colored carpets and new 20-inch wheels for the Supercharged model, plus clear lenses for the tail lamps and side turn signals.
Safety features on both models include stability control, Hill Descent Control, and an Active Roll Mitigation feature that helps stabilize the vehicle during severe handling maneuvers. Airbags protect both rows of occupants. Crash data is not available on this model to date. Both the 2009 Land Rover Range Rover Sport 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.
Land Rovers are extremely complex vehicles, and their record of reliability as measured by any number of quality surveys is well below average.