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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
The vehicle also can carry just about anything
never seems taxed in everyday driving
The shocking thing...is how amazingly well it stops
Car and Driver
This SUV has a stable, confident highway ride
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.
Cars.com reports "two engines are offered...Land Rover Range Rover Sport 2008 HSE models use a 300-horsepower, 4.4-liter V-8 that makes 315 pounds-feet of torque, and Supercharged versions have a 390-hp, supercharged 4.2-liter V-8 that develops 410 pounds-feet of torque." This engine will take the vehicle to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, according to Land Rover estimates. Not all sources consider the Range Rover Sport’s engines impressive, however; AutoWeek notes the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover Sport "can carry just about anything short of a Chevy Suburban-load...[but] power isn't what it needs to be to carry the vehicle with a load of adults and gear down the highway." Cars.com states "the Land Rover 2008 HSE's acceleration can only be described as adequate, and the engine works hard to propel this portly SUV." On the other hand, ConsumerGuide proclaims "the Supercharged model is impressively strong." Kelley Blue Book adds "the supercharger is most appreciated when passing at high speeds and scooting across bustling intersections."
About the transmission, Cars.com reports "both engines drive a six-speed automatic transmission with a clutchless-manual mode that sends power to each wheel through a permanent four-wheel-drive system." AutoWeek says "it kicks down way too much to maintain highway speed, but maybe that was the fuel-saving sixth gear talking." At an EPA-estimated average of 14 mpg, it's uncertain how much good a "fuel-saving sixth gear" can really be, however. Car and Driver turns in even worse figures, averaging a mere 12 mpg. The culprit is weight; this mid-size SUV weighs more than 5,500 pounds, about the same as the significantly larger Cadillac Escalade.
A complex four-wheel-drive system with various settings and modes—and features like Hill Descent Control—is standard. 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, while 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.
Handling and road manners are more than solid. AutoWeek says "on the upside, this vehicle glides down the highway and is barely rattled by anything the back roads can dish out...the truck stays on center so steadily that you actually can take your hands off the wheel and not stray from a straight-line course--very impressive for a 5600-pounder with these kinds of off-road underpinnings." Cars.com describes the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover Sport as "a stable, confident highway ride...the four-wheel-independent air suspension delivers ride quality that's on the firm side; bumps and holes are felt and heard." According to ConsumerGuide, "both models react firmly to bumps in the manner of a European sport sedan." Cars.com also notes “Land Rover says the optional Dynamic Response anti-roll system works to control body roll, and it did so handily when driving the Range Rover Sport on twisty roads — especially when you consider its near 6-foot height and 5,500-pound curb weight.”
On the Supercharged, speed is dissipated by large Brembo-branded brakes that are necessary due to this SUV's velocity potential and weight. Car and Driver is impressed by the brakes even on the base model: "the shocking thing about the Range Rover Sport is how amazingly well it stops...our 5629-pound HSE test vehicle did the 70-to-0-mph deed in just 165 feet, which far outclasses everything in its SUV category."
The 2008 Land Rover Range Rover Sport’s handling is nearly as shocking as its fuel economy.