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TheCarConnection.com's editors took the wheel of the new Land Rover Range Rover Sport to bring you an expert opinion along with thorough research from around the rest of the Web to help you make a complete, informed decision.
The 2010 Land Rover Range Rover Sport melds a sleeker, more defined profile than its bigger brother the Range Rover with a chassis tuned for on-road performance over hard-core off-roading. That's not to say it isn't ready for woodsy trails or dusty deserts, and it looks the part, too, recalling the look of earlier Range Rovers with its thin roof pillars and upright, bold presence. Major interior revisions improve the look and feel throughout the cabin.
The Range Rover Sport delivers its impressive performance in two models: the Range Rover Sport HSE and the Range Rover Sport Supercharged. With new 5.0-liter engines for 2010 replacing the previous 4.4- and 4.2-liter naturally aspirated and supercharged units, power is up to 375 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque for the HSE and a massive 510 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque for the Supercharged. That's enough to get the big SUVs up to 60 mph in a hurry: 7.2 seconds for the HSE and a sports car-like 5.9 for the Supercharged model. Both engines are paired with a revised six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. Big disc brakes help both models handle all that power, while an updated and retuned Dynamic program takes advantage of the upgraded suspension elements and chassis stiffness also introduced this year. Despite weighing more than 5,500 pounds, the Range Rover Sport delivers impressive handling, though the hefty curb weight does mean fuel economy is poor, with the HSE rated at 13/18 mpg city and highway, and the Supercharged rated at 12/17 mpg.
Editors at TheCarConnection.com have driven the 2010 Land Rover Range Rover Sport both on- and off-road. The full-time four-wheel-drive system adds an extra punch of acceleration on the pavement, and performs sure-footedly on gravel, mud, and snowy winter roads alike. Curvy-road performance is where the Range Rover Sport line shines, hustling the bends well enough to resemble a sports car, except for its ever-present weight. Off-road, that weight isn't much of a penalty, and even the street-focused stock tires are unable to restrain the Land Rover engineering, advanced differentials, traction control and hill descent algorithms.
Inside the cabin of the Range Rover Sport, the interior is almost all-new for 2010. Though the design looks familiar, a reduction of buttons and an improvement of materials throughout make for a much-improved and positively luxurious experience. Things are a bit snugger than you'd expect from a large SUV, though up front the cockpit-like feel is intentional, helping to immerse the driver in the experience. Visibility is good thanks to ample windows. High-quality leather, wood, and wool carpeting complete the luxury experience of the Range Rover Sport.
Safety continues to be a Range Rover Sport strong suit, with advanced stability control, hill descent control, and active roll mitigation helping to keep the vehicle upright and pointed the right way down the road even during emergency situations. Front and rear-seat passengers are protected by airbags, and standard anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution help maintain stability under braking. As with many expensive SUVs, there is no crash-test data from NHTSA or the IIHS.
A wealth of technology lies just beneath the surface, accessible through the 5-inch TFT instrument panel and dash-mounted touch screen. Most of it is dedicated to managing the Range Rover Sport's impressive Adaptive Dynamics System and Terrain Response System, which allow the vehicle to perform its on-road and off-road feats by tuning the response of the adjustable dampers, and enhanced steering feel lets the driver better sense what the chassis is doing. All of this is displayed in real time on the display screen. The instrument panel also displays a host of information and is itself a digital display that reconfigures to show the most relevant information depending on the driving mode selected by the center console-mounted knob. All-new for the Supercharged for 2010 is the Dynamic program, which maximizes performance on-road-and it's a noticeable transformation when you change on the fly.
Aside from the powertrain, the primary differences between the 2010 Range Rover HSE and Supercharged versions lie in the features; most of what is optional on the HSE comes standard on the Supercharged. Both models receive significant improvements for 2010, including more extensive use of leather and soft-touch materials. Available options include a beverage cooler, a rear-seat entertainment system, and much more.
An Autobiography Limited Edition package adds duo-tone leather, embossed headrests, exclusive exterior colors, and a number of other features, including 20-inch alloy wheels and a unique mesh grille.