2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
November 14, 2018

The 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport climbs to the peak of the luxury-SUV niche with its tasteful looks and exceptional performance.

The 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport gets to the top of the luxury SUV mountain the proper way: It climbs there.

Handsome, luxurious, a capable and even stunning performer on pavement and in muck, the 2019 Range Rover Sport picks off extra points on our ratings scale like carnival prizes. In all, we think it’s worth a 7.8 out of 10, an excellent score given its low fuel economy and its absent safety data. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2019 Range Rover Sport spans a price range from just below $70,000 to more than $114,000, as it ratchets up equipment through its trim lines: SE, HSE, HSE Dynamic, Supercharged, Autobiography, and SVR. Each shares the same basic, trim, and handsome silhouette, one that’s all but unadorned. It’s carefully honed free of extraneous detail, inside and out, with the main distinction between Range Rover and Sport being a more radically angled rear window and a lower ride height on the latter. Some might see the cabin as austere, but there’s nothing spartan about its lush semi-aniline leather or synthetic suede headliner, or the twin-screen infotainment system that lets any driver cosplay Lieutenant Uhura in semi-privacy.

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Land Rover fits a passel of powertrains to the Range Rover Sport. In this income-shifted universe, budget models bear a supercharged V-6 with either 340 or 380 horsepower; green variants adopt turbodiesel or plug-in technology; and the roost-rulers get supercharged V-8s with either 517 or 575 hp, the latter of which can propel a nearly 5,000-pound SUV to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds or less.

With its quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission, full-time four-wheel drive, and available locking differentials and drive modes, the Range Rover Sport does something unthinkable to the first Land Rovers that plugged through global muck. It carries itself like a Range Rover should, and comports itself like a well-executed sport sedan when it must. Handling is exceedingly capable on pavement in SVR trim, confidence-inspiring in any other model, even when it’s fitted with street tires and picking its way through narrow forest trails.

The Sport also carries five adults well, though the back-middle seat’s less comfortable than the outboard positions. An available third-row bench is best left off the order sheet.

Every Range Rover Sport is very well-equipped. The Sport has standard leather upholstery, high-power audio with USB and Bluetooth connectivity, automatic climate control, and standard automatic emergency braking.
Minor changes for the 2019 model year include newly available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a wade-sensing system, and new functions for its safety suite, including stop-and-go capability for its available adaptive cruise control.

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2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Styling

No junior partner, the 2019 Range Rover Sport outshines its bigger sibling, for some.

If you’re a fan of the Land Rover Range Rover’s stately, subdued look—but want a little more pizazz—the Range Rover Sport can play that angle.

Indistinguishable from the bigger SUV to some, the Sport’s the right-sized Rover we needed, to most, thanks to its sporty and lower stance, its clean lines, and a roof that seems like it’s floating.

It’s a 9 for styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2019 Range Rover Sport shares the family look: Its genetic toolkit has the same lines and angles and LED lights as the larger Range Rover. It makes a more solid impression with its blacked-out roof pillars, its chunky grille, and its smoothed-over surfaces—but most of all, with the sloped roofline, faired-in headlights, and the chopped short tail that marks its departure from the Range Rover’s aesthetic. Spend up into the Range Rover Sport SVR, and the wheels get wider and the fender flares get bigger, while the ride height drops, all of which suits the SVR’s bonkers track-ready performance.

The Sport’s cabin adds in the twin-touchscreen infotainment system also adopted by the sleeker Velar and the Range Rover. Other than those vast touch-sensitive surfaces, the Sport upholsters almost every cabin surface with supple leather and toned-down wood, lending an old-world layer to what’s otherwise a modern, swanky cabin.

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2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Performance

The 2019 Range Rover Sport is Land Rover’s secret sport sedan.

Yes, it has a wagon body. And yes, it also has four-wheel drive that can handle terrain most crossovers cannot. But the 2019 Range Rover Sport also has excellent ride and handling—better than the bigger Range Rover’s, while it shares its wide range of drivetrains.

We think the Sport’s impressive in almost every performance context, which is why we give it a 9 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

At its lowest price rung, the Range Rover Sport builds ample speed with a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6. Land Rover rates SE and HSE models at 340 horsepower, while HSE Dynamic editions ratchet that up to 380 hp. Coupled to a quick-shifting 8-speed automatic and full-time four-wheel drive, these models can pull to 60 mph in as little as 6.8 seconds, a half-second quicker than in the bigger Range Rover.

The next rung on the gas performance ladder comes with a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8, also sent out in dueling specifications. On Supercharged, HSE Dynamic, and Autobiography versions, it’s rated at 518 hp and 461 lb-ft, good for a 0-60 mph time of 5.0 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. It’s the one we’d choose, if it weren’t for the Sport SVR’s tuend version of the same engine, which makes 575 hp and 561 lb-ft. It can hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, with a brash, loud V-8 soundtrack that’s borderline bratty. For $114,000, it doesn’t need to worry about things like manners.

Two more fuel-efficient models are on tap for 2019. The turbodiesel Range Rover Sport chugs back into the lineup, powered by a 254-hp V-6 with 440 lb-ft of torque, and acceleration about a half-second slower than the other V-6. Land Rover quotes 658 miles of driving range on a single tank of diesel; it’s quiet and not clattery, and turns in highway mileage in the high 20s. Still, we think the future will line up better with the Sport P400e, the plug-in hybrid now joining the Range Rover Sport lineup. New this year, it pairs a turbo-4 engine with a 13.1-kwh battery pack and a 114-hp electric motor for a total of 398 hp and a predicted electric-only driving range of about 25 miles. The turbo-4’s muffled by extensive sound deadening, and the plug-in hybrid can reach 60 mph in 6.3 seconds; aside from price, the plug-in’s most obvious demerit is tow rating, down from 7,716 pounds on all other RR Sports to 5,511 lb.

Off-road and on

Fitted with standard four-wheel drive, and with drive modes that can be augmented with a low-speed transfer case, the Range Rover Sport trundles through mud and snow and gravel with dogged determination. It can change its shift quality, throttle tip-in, and its traction and stability controls to adapt to the road or trail surface, and even on street tires, is capable of deep-woods adventure.

The Sport’s Auto program, which takes the burden of figuring out those modes and situations, is just the beginning. The Sport can be geared and programmed to wade through up to 33.5 inches of water, measured now by a wade-sensing system that’s new this year. It can cruise over obstacles that fit under its axles, with its 9.3 inches of ground clearance. Or it can let all of its guards down, and let its tires spin, while it drifts through dunes in Sand mode.

What most other SUVs can’t do, is hide those talents under a layer of gentility. The Range Rover Sport doesn’t just paper over its off-road credentials: it practically smothers them, with the same air suspension firmed up to handle body lean in deep corners, with its drive modes set into their most adventurous Sport modes.

Even without dipping into the SVR well, the Range Rover Sport blends in the kind of fluid ride and deliberate body control that a good mid-size sport sedan reels off by rote. When it’s locked down in street mode—especially in the scorching SVR version—the Range Rover Sport can ape the best maneuvers of the bigger Jaguar sedans. It’s not quite a replacement for a four-door, with its weight carried high, but what drivers today wouldn’t be willing to give up that sensation for the extra room and for the Land Rover panache?

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2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Comfort & Quality

The 2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport doesn’t know what a bad seat is.

The Range Rover Sport doesn’t differ much in execution or concept from the bigger Range Rover. The cabin’s only about 3 cubic feet smaller, and it’s somewhat more snugly fitted and sculpted—but it’s still a showcase for comfort and refinement.

We think it’s worth a 10 here. There’s always the Range Rover LWB if you need more stretch-out room. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Range Rover Sport performs all the people- and cargo-carrying tasks very well.

The front passengers get accommodated in nearly the same way as in the larger Range Rover, though the seats are set more deeply, and though its console and door panels cozy up more. The 14-way power seated can be upgraded to 16-way seats with heating, cooling, even semi-aniline leather. The commanding view of the road ahead remains the same. Between the front passengers, a deep console has cupholders, USB ports, and a console bin that can be fitted with refrigeration, for the hydrophiles among us.

In the second row, Land Rover tailors the seats more for two adults and an occasional passenger than for three across, but that arrangement still works, albeit with less comfort for the middle passenger. The outboard seats feel swell for all-day drives, with their deep sculpting and 37 inches of leg room.

Behind those seats, the Range Rover Sport’s cargo hold measures 27.7 cubic feet; with the rear seats folded down, the space clocks in at 62.2 cubes. The cargo numbers get very small when the available third-row seat’s installed, but unless it’s absolutely necessary we say skip it. It’s only adequate for small passengers, anyway, and it’s not even offered on base or SVR models.

The materials in a Range Rover Sport are some of the best around—leather, wood, metal, and plastics all look great and feel good, befitting the luxury SUV’s steep price of entry.

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2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Safety

No crash-test data has been published, but the Land Rover Range Rover Sport’s endowed with almost all of the latest safety technology.

The IIHS hasn’t crashed one, and neither has the NHTSA. Until both check in with real data, we can’t rate the 2019 Range Rover Sport for crash safety. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

All Sports now come with the gear we expect from all luxury cars—and most mainstream cars, too. That gear includes automatic emergency braking across the board, as well as adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warnings.

We like the outward vision from the Range Rover Sport’s high-mounted seats, thanks to its sizable windows and relatively slim roof pillars.

Land Rover will fit the Sport with safety options such as blind-spot monitors, LED headlights, and parking sensors, as well as a surround-view camera system that’s standard on all but the SE and HSE Sport.

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2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Features

With 19 speakers, touchscreen off-roading, and 575 hp on order, the 2019 Range Rover Sport ticks almost every luxury-SUV box.

The 2019 Range Rover Sport runs amok with technology and features. We think its super-sized infotainment system’s worth a point above average, as are its standard features and options.

But the Sport’s warranty, while fair, doesn’t match the lavish one bestowed on Jaguars. And as a matter of value, it’s not one, not by conventional yardsticks.

It’s an 8 for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Land Rover sells the Range Rover Sport in SE, HSE, HSE Dynamic, Supercharged, Autobiography, and SVR trim levels. The base SE costs about $68,000, and comes with lots of standard gear, including power features, leather upholstery, power heated front seats, 19-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless ignition, and AM/FM/XM audio with USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility will be offered, finally, for 2019.

HSE Sports—our value pick from the range—get a panoramic sunroof, 20-inch wheels, upgraded leather seats with more front-seat adjustments, an 11-speaker audio system, blind-spot monitors, LED headlights, and parking sensors.

At the HSE Dynamic trim level, the powertrain pads on 20 hp, and the Sport gains red brake calipers,  21-inch wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 19-speaker premium audio system, 22-way adjustable heated and cooled front seats, and black exterior accents. Autobiography models get the supercharged V-8, tri-zone automatic climate control, 21-inch wheels, soft-close doors, and a heated steering wheel.

For more than $114,000, the Range Rover Sport SVR tops off its tank with a 575-hp V-8, a sport-tuned air suspension, sport seats, a surround-view camera system, uprated brakes, and exterior SVR accents.

Touch Pro Duo

Added last year to the Range Rover Sport mix is the same twin-screen infotainment system that made its debut in the Range Rover Velar. The setup, dubbed Touch Pro Duo, fits a couple of 10-inch screens to the center stack of the Sport, and gives them free rein over climate, traction, and communication functions.

The top screen takes on infotainment, everything from phone pairing to CarPlay or Android Auto when equipped. The lower screen displays touch-sensitive climate controls and vehicle systems such as the Sport’s terrain-management system; the screen sits between two rotary controls that tackle different functions based on the screen mode. Land Rover complements this all with a volume knob, not a gimmicky virtual slider.

There’s actually a third screen, a 12.3-inch display that takes the place of conventional gauges. It’s not touch-sensitive, of course: it displays the usual tach and speedo, as well as vehicle settings, map data, and other configurable information.

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2019 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Fuel Economy

Fuel economy isn’t the Range Rover Sport’s biggest worry in life, but a plug-in may change its outlook.

Land Rover fits the Range Rover Sport with some of its most powerful engines, and fuel economy suffers accordingly.

We give it a 3 here since the most popular versions won’t have the more fuel-efficient powertrains from the order sheet. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The EPA rates the supercharged V-6 in the Sport at 17 mpg city, 23 highway, 19 combined. The optional V-8s have been rated at 14/19/16 mpg.

If we based our rating on the turbodiesels offered for the past couple of model years, our rating would inch up to a 4, thanks to EPA ratings of 22/28/24 mpg. Best of all may be the coming plug-in Range Rover Sport P400e PHEV, a hybrid with an estimated electric-only range of about 30 miles—but the EPA hasn’t confirmed its ratings yet.

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$66,750
MSRP based on V6 Supercharged SE
 
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7.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 9
Performance 9
Comfort & Quality 10
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 3
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