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- Serene and stately...
- ...but can perform when called upon, both on and off road
- Gorgeous interior
- "5+2" seating offers expanded utility
- Price climbs very, very fast
- "+2" seating is only for kids, only for very short trips
- We'll miss the HST
Blending sport and utility like almost no other SUV, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is impressive in any configuration.
The terms "Sport" and "Range Rover" may not seem like they go together, but this popular entry into Land Rover's lineup somehow combines both impeccable road manners and a high degree of capability.
The 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is offered in a quintet of models: SE, HSE, Supercharged, Autobiography, and SVR. Though its third-row seats are cramped and its prices are, as you might expect, as tall as its heritage, the Range Rover Sport rates an excellent 8.2 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport styling and performance
New back in 2006, and completely reinvented with an aluminum body for the 2014 model year, the shorter, sportier Land Rover Ranger Rover Sport now shares much of its architecture and some of its drivetrains with its bigger sibling, the Range Rover. Last year, two new engines arrived, but the changes are less notable for 2017.
The current Range Rover Sport is much lighter and more nimble than the first-generation model, which looked boxier and more like a classic Range Rover. It took unsexy materials science to make the Sport more svelte. Like the Range Rover, the Sport's body is made from glued-and-riveted aluminum, a switch from steel that's said to save up to 800 pounds.
More than ever, the Sport looks like a companion to the Range Rover—but it also wears some details influenced by the smaller, more slinky Evoque. The slim nose, winged headlamps, the dramatic roofline drop are all inspired by the Evoque. Inside, the cabin remains 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. No shortage of personalization options are on offer.
Weighing in at around 5,000 pounds, with a taut suspension tune, the Range Rover Sport is convincingly sporty. Five different powertrain choices, covering every part of the SUV landscape from turbodiesel economy to supercar-like V-8 thrust, are on offer.
Anchoring the bottom end of the lineup is 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 delightful paddle-shifted 8-speed automatic. From there, a supercharged V-8 comes in two power outputs: In standard form, it barks out 510 hp with NASCAR authority, ripping off five-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. Last year's limited edition HST, a fusion of the SVR's sporty suspension and the base engine's lower price point, is no longer.
The Range Rover Sport also offers a 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, as you might expect, 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.
Comfort, safety, and features
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 SE and HSE are both outfitted with the gas V-6 engine but offer the diesel V-6 as an option. The Supercharged and Autobiography add the 510-hp V-8 engine. And then there's 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. For 2017, the Range Rover Sport adds some infotainment upgrades, as well as a host of modifications to its stability control to aid backing up a trailer and off-roading. Its option packages have been slightly reconfigured, which reduces the number of choices on offer but should simplify the shopping process.
Automatic emergency braking, a crucial safety item, is standard on all Sports for 2017. Inside, the new 10.2-inch touchscreen infotainment screen now utilizes tablet-esque pinch and scroll functionality but remains a little more convoluted than in some rivals.