2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
June 28, 2016

The 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport adds two new dimensions to its performance profile: a turbodiesel V-6 and a supercharged HST edition.

New back in 2006, and completely reinvented with an aluminum body in 2014, the shorter, sportier Land Rover Ranger Rover Sport now shares architecture and some drivetrains with its bigger sibling, the Range Rover. For the 2016 model year, it adds two new sources of power—one more frugal, one not so much.

The current Range Rover Sport is much lighter and more nimble than the first-generation model. It took unsexy materials science to make the Sport more slinky. Like the Range Rover, the Sport's body is now made from glued-and-riveted aluminum, a switch from steel that's said to be 800 pounds lighter.

More than ever, the Sport looks like a companion piece to the hallmark Rover—but it also wears some details influenced by the smaller, more stylish Evoque crossover SUV. The slim nose, winged headlamps, the dramatic roofline drop are all Evoque-like, while the cabin's pure Range Rover, architectural and calm, with the emphasis places on wide swaths of leather and aluminum, pared down to a minimum of surfaces, switchgear, and seams.

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New for this year is an HST model with its own drivetrain, and with an array of trim that gives it a more urbane look. The front and rear lamps are tinted dark, as are the roof and fender vents; the rear end wears a new spoiler; and 21-inch wheels are fitted, barely cloaking red brake calipers. Red "HST" badging appears outside and inside the newest Sport; the cabin also wears contrasting leather, ebony trim, metallic paddle shifters and sport pedals, and aluminum interior trim.

Weighing in at about 5,000 pounds, with a suspension tuned for responsiveness, the Range Rover Sport is a convincing player in the niche of SUVs that can truly be called sporty. For 2016, there are now five different powertrain choices, covering every part of the SUV landscape from turbodiesel economy to supercar-like V-8 thrust.

Carried over from the 2015 model year are a 340-horsepower, 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 base engine, delivering a nice 90-degree V-6 snarl and sub-7-second acceleration to 60 mph, in tandem with a sweet paddle-shifted 8-speed automatic. The supercharged V-8 comes in two power outputs: In standard form, it barks out 510 hp with NASCAR authority, ripping off 5-second runs to 60 mph. An SVR version puts out an immense 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque that gets fed to upgraded mechanicals.

This year's additions come in the form of a 380-hp supercharged V-6 in the HST model. Up 40 hp on the base engine, it gives the Sport the same power choices as the F-Type sportscar. The HST also gets its own upgraded suspension tuning and brakes, as well as a Torsen center differential, and a dynamic setting that tweaks the suspension, steering, and throttle to a higher state of readiness.

This year, the Sport also adopts a new turbodiesel V-6. With 254 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque, it delivers 0-60 mph times equal to the base supercharged V-6, an extremely quiet driving experience, and EPA fuel economy of 22 mpg city, 29 highway, 25 combined. For the frugal, long-term-thinking Sport driver, it's the obvious choice.

Across the lineup, the Sport's ride/handling worldview tilts firmly to sport. The bigger Range Rover specializes in coddling while the Sport's similar air dampers and variable-ratio steering are tuned quicken up the pace. The V-8's Dynamic setting dials out much of the innate lean and scrub dictated by its height and weight. It's much closer now to the benchmarks set by the uber-utes from Germany. The SVR doesn't just lean toward sport—it's firmly planted there, with its upgraded chassis, firmer suspension tuning, meaty 21-inch wheels and tires, and myriad other tweaks making it a rocket of an SUV.

At the same time, the Range Rover Sport is an incredibly capable muckraker, with either the Torsen four-wheel-drive setup, or the more advanced two-speed four-wheel-drive system, with its active rear locking differential that helps improve traction on pavement and off. The two-speed system is standard on V-8 models and available as an option with the V-6. With more ground clearance than ever, the Sport can extract itself from almost anything the bigger Range Rover can, and its slight size advantage might let it squeeze through where the executive-class Land Rover might not. Land Rover even designed the SVR to retain its off-road readiness, keeping the same Terrain Response 2 system and low-range-equipped transfer case, but upgrading the computers and hardware in the driveline to better handle the extra power and torque.

The Sport's cabin has never looked better, and the latest model's extra room in almost all dimensions solves one of the least happy aspects of the first-generation version, though the second-row seat isn't quite as supportive as the Range Rover's. These are the sacrifices. There's even seating for seven, but trust us when we say you won't want to ride in the way-back unless you're working on your ABC's.

Multiple trim lines are available on the Range Rover Sport: the base SE and upgrade HSE, both outfitted with the supercharged V-6 engine; the Supercharged, with the 510-hp supercharged V-8 engine; the Autobiography, which shares the 510-horsepower V-8 but adds a range of unique design elements; and the range-topping SVR, which gets the 550-hp version of the supercharged V-8 along with plenty of performance-influenced styling and chassis upgrades.

The same is true for features and safety content. On the infotainment front, Sirius satellite and HD Radio are standard on all models, and Land Rover's new InControl apps are available as a stand-alone option or packaged with the Meridian upgrade stereos. A Driver Assistance Pack included traffic sign recognition, lane-departure warning, automatic parallel and perpendicular parking, parking exit assist, and parking sensors all around the vehicle. The Climate Comfort and Visibility Packages have blind-spot monitoring with closing vehicle sensing and reverse traffic detection. And if that weren't enough, the puddle-lamp design now shows a silhouette of the vehicle instead of the Range Rover Sport logo.

For 2016, the Sport adds remote connectivity via smartphone to the InControl system, and a hands-free tailgate.

EPA ratings for gas mileage can be as much as 30 percent higher than in the previous version of the Sport, with the 2016 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 model rating 17 mpg city, 23 highway, 19 combined. Opt for the supercharged V-8 model (in non-SVR form) and you’ll get 14/19/16 mpg.

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2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Styling

Smaller and sleeker, the Range Rover Sport is just as brilliant as its big brother.

With much of its appearance reflecting that of its smaller and larger siblings, the Range Rover Sport is nonetheless both original and inspiring. Clean lines and a wide, aggressive stance give it a definite sense of purpose—one of both SUV potential and sporty driving demeanor.

A floated roof, chunky but unobtrusive grille, blacked-out pillars, and a sleek, smooth surface all around give the Range Rover Sport is family resemblance. The roof’s dynamic slope, a stubby nose, and tall sides speak of the “Sport” appellation in addition to the Land Rover and Range Rover heritage. Fender and hood vents give the Sport a further edge.

The tail, likewise, is short and chopped, with swollen wheel arches, smoothly faired headlights, and an overall sense of sleekness.

Opting for the SVR model brings slightly more aggressive exterior aerodynamics, as well as meaner stance thanks to sporty wheels and tires.

Inside, the Range Rover Sport shows its relation to the larger Range Rover SUV more clearly, with only the essentials of dials and switches remaining, the rest of the vehicle’s command and control functionality being offloaded to the infotainment system’s touchscreen. Large swathes of wood and leather dominate, wrapping nearly every exposed inch of the cabin’s surface. Every Sport gets four bucket-style seats (plus an occasional-use second-row center seat), but SVR models get heavily bolstered front seats and outboard rear seats, with SVR badges denoting the vehicle’s higher performance.

If we have one quibble with the interior style of the Range Rover Sport, it’s that the beautiful instrument panel display sometimes makes the center touchscreen display look dated; hopefully a firmware update can fix that—and soon.

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2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Performance

Excelling on-road and prodigious off-road, the Range Rover Sport is a do-it-all machine par excellence.

The Range Rover Sport offers three core powertrains, all of them with four-wheel drive, a low-range transfer case, and an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The entry point is a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, rated at 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. It’s quick, and sounds good, hitting 60 mph in about 7 seconds with a top speed of 130 mph. The new-for-2016 HST bumps output up to 380 hp from the same V-6 engine, with slightly quicker acceleration, but no real change to the V-6's rumbly, whistly supercharged soundtrack—or to its impressive flex of power right off idle.

Next is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine good for 254 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque. Its 0-60 mph times are posted at 7.1 seconds in the Sport, about as quick as the base V-6, and acoustically it's even better. It's nearly silent in its operation thanks to additional sound baffling, and despite the narrow diesel powerband (peak torque arrives at 1,750 rpm), it doesn't diminish the Sport's performance envelope in any dramatic way. If anything, the 658 highway miles of driving on a single tank of fuel expands it, in a novel way.

Next is the 5.0-liter supercharged V-8, rated for 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque. That shaves the 0-60 mph run to about 5 seconds, adds a beefy V-8 rumble, and takes the top speed to 140 mph—or 155 mph with the optional Dynamic pack.

Finally, there’s the Range Rover Sport SVR, which gets a 550-hp, 502 lb-ft version of the 5.0-liter supercharged V-8, shaving 0-60 mph times to 4.5 seconds and raising top speed to 162 mph. In real-world terms, it translates to an insanely quick SUV—one that merges onto freeways like a serious sports car; one that devours long stretches like an autobahn cruiser; one that doesn’t cringe at a nice stretch of curves.

In any form, the Range Rover Sport is impressive on the road, handling and accelerating like a sport sedan. In SVR trim, the vehicle is even capable of track duty.

Despite the crisp and capable performance driving characteristics, the Range Rover Sport (including the hot SVR model) is still very comfortable on the road—as you’d expect—but also extremely capable off-road. Among the Range Rover Sport's capabilities is a damned impressive ability to scrabble over rocks and roots, through mud, sand, and gravel, and to ford water—up to 33.5 inches deep. It has wheel travel of 10.2 inches front, 10.7 inches rear; 9.3 inches of ground clearance in Access Mode for off-roading, and, of course, the Terrain Response 2 system for drivetrain, stability/traction control, and other systems.

The Terrain Response selector offers modes for nearly any terrain, and the system manages its rear and center differentials, plus uses the brakes and traction control systems, to completely sort out any traction issues with total transparency to the driver. Terrain Response 2 includes seven modes: General, Dynamic, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand, Rock Crawl, and Auto. Auto mode automatically selects the best mode based on the input from the vehicle sensors. It’s one of the best vehicles available off-road, and it’s also one of the easiest to drive when the going gets rough.

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2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Comfort & Quality

Luxuriate in the Range Rover Sport’s cabin with prime materials and a spacious second row.

The Range Rover Sport’s role in the Land Rover family is becoming familiar and function: in the latest generation, it’s longer and more space-efficient, with an additional 2.5 inches overall length (now 191 inches) and a 115.1-inch wheelbase—specs that nearly match the previous-generation Range Rover (non-Sport).

Lower (by 2.2 inches), lighter (by about 100 pounds), and more on-road performance focused than the standard Range Rover, the Sport’s cockpit reflects its more focused mission: the center console is taller, the front-row passengers sit in more of a cockpit than a cabin, but there’s nearly identical front-seat space in the svelter Sport as in its full-size brother.

Seat bolsters are firmer and larger, however, especially in SVR models, though, true to Range Rover form, they are highly adjustable in nearly every dimension. Heating and ventilation in the front seats is available, as is a multi-mode massage function.

In the second row, the bench seat is more clearly intended for two passengers, with outboard positions given nearly bucket-seat-like sculpting of the bolsters (again, this is more pronounced in the high-performance SVR). The second row splits and folds for better cargo flexibility, and those who absolutely must can even get optional two fold-up seats in the rear cargo floor for small children.

As for quality, look, and feel, Range Rover continues to knock all measures out of the park, with a sense of solidity, refinement, and luxury in the leathers, metals, woods, and plastics used throughout the cabin.

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2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Safety

Despite a lack of crash test scores, the Range Rover Sport offers plenty of safety tech for peace of mind.

The 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport hasn’t been crash tested by the NHTSA or the IIHS, a common occurrence for expensive, low-volume vehicles. We base our score on its SUV body style, aircraft-like construction methods, and safety features.

High-tech safety abound in the 2016 Range Rover Sport: a surround-view camera system, parking/proximity sensors, lane-departure warning, parking assist (for both perpendicular and parallel spots), and automatic high-beam are all included. A full suite of airbags, plus stability control (including roll control, corner brake control, and trailer sway control) are also standard.

Optional extras include traffic sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring, and reverse traffic detection. Adaptive cruise control is also available, and is even able to continue after stopping in stop-and-go traffic.

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2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Features

We still don’t love the infotainment system, but the Range Rover Sport’s premium interior is unquestionably great.

There are a wide range of trim lines and equipment options available for the 2016 Range Rover Sport. A new model joins the fold for the new model year: the SVR, which packs extra power and a few unique interior and exterior features and design elements.

Equipment you’ll find on all Range Rover Sports includes: automatic climate control; 14-way heated power seats; USB input and Bluetooth audio; voice commands; a Meridian-branded AM/FM/CD audio system; power windows, locks, and mirrors; satellite and HD radio; and 19-inch wheels. Upgrades include a rear seat entertainment system with wireless headphones; a hands-free, gesture-controlled tailgate; surround-view camera system; a panoramic sunroof (standard on some trim lines); 22-inch wheels; navigation; and a TFT instrument panel display.

The navigation system is operated via an 8.0-inch touchscreen display in the dash. In some models, a 12.3-inch display in the instrument panel not only replaces the dash, but also offers many other display capabilities including relaying navigation data. The standard instrument panel display is a 5.0-inch panel.

The infotainment system includes Apple and Android smartphone compatibility through the InControl app suite. The system includes the ability to interact with the car via a smartphone. For example, using a linked smartphone, the owner can see fuel level, lock or unlock the car, receive a note if the alarm sounds, start the engine, and adjust the climate control. Also featured is InControl Protect, which will automatically notify emergency services and provide GPS location of the vehicle should it be involved in a collision severe enough to trigger the airbags. Occupants can also trigger an emergency call manually by pressing a button on the overhead console.

Beyond the extensive features included and available in the high-tech world, there are also a bevy of interior and exterior colors, materials, and design choices to be made when choosing your Range Rover Sport. For those with a particular taste for speed, the SVR model offers a unique exterior aerodynamics package as well as an upgraded interior with more heavily bolstered front and rear seats and SVR badging throughout the cabin.

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2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Fuel Economy

The new generation of the Range Rover Sport brought with it significant improvements in fuel economy.

The Land Rover Range Rover Sport has saved considerable weight from its previous generation, and accordingly it saves considerably on gas. That's before its new turbodiesel V-6 is factored into the equation.

EPA ratings for gas mileage can be as much as 30 percent higher than in the previous version of the Sport, with the 2016 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 model rating 17 mpg city, 23 highway, 19 combined. Opt for the supercharged V-8 model (in non-SVR form) and you’ll get 14/19/16 mpg.

The high-performance SVR model hasn’t yet received official EPA ratings, but likely will be in line with the supercharged V-8's numbers.

The new turbodiesel engine has been certified by the EPA at 22/29/25 mpg. Land Rover asserts that its diesel meets all current U.S. regulations; the diesel uses an exhaust treatment system to clean nitrogen oxide emissions.

Start-stop is included in all Range Rover Sport models, and while it doesn’t necessarily show in EPA ratings, depending on your personal driving habits and environment, it could result in noticeable gas mileage benefits.

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February 15, 2016
2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport 4WD 4-Door V8 SVR

ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.

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After 5 rrsports this rr svr is the ultimate I can not see how they can make it BETTER.
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