2014 Range Rover Sport Road Test Review
by Bob Plunkett
Road & Travel Magazine's Top Picks
On the St. Helena Highway in California's Napa Valley, we're goosing the go-pedal but holding a legal rein on more than 500 horses hitched beneath the hood of a super-powerful new vehicle from Britain's Land Rover: It's the 2014 Range Rover Sport Supercharged, a fancy 4-wheel-drive sport utility vehicle in new generational design featuring components and unibody structure composed of lightweight aluminum rather than weighty steel.
Appearing seemingly as a cross between Land Rover's full-size premium luxury flagship Range Rover SUV and the compact and curvy-tailed Evoque model, new Range Rover Sport emulates the 6-inch-longer Range Rover in powertrains, structural composition and lengthy list of luxurious cabin appointments.
The aluminum-based 2014 Range Rover Sport tips scales more than 800 pounds lighter than previous models constructed from steel.
Choosing aluminum as the wagon's building blocks also forges a rigid structure because it's put together with aluminum rivets and heat-cured glues in techniques lifted from the aerospace industry to create an ultra-rigid frame measuring much stiffer than a similar body crafted in steel.
The new structure increases the wheelbase length by seven inches over the previous-generation Range Rover Sport and that additional yardage works to enhance the vehicle's ride quality as well as boost the cabin space -- there's enough room now to squeeze a pair of optional seats on a third row and raise the seat capacity to seven.
Range Rover Sport for 2014 skews to four trim variations using supercharged V6 and V8 engines coupled to an electronically controlled 8-speed ZF automatic transmission and a 4-wheel-drive mechanism with 2-speed electronically-shifted transfer case that's always working, either in high range for normal driving including runs at highway speed or low range for slow-go crawling over rough terrain away from pavement.
Range Rover Sport SE and HSE issues employ the V6 engine while Range Rover Sport Supercharged and deluxe Autobiography editions stock the big V8.
A dual-cam 3.0-liter V6 engine fitted with Eaton twin-vortex supercharger delivers 340 hp at 6500 rpm with 332 lb-ft of torque at 3500 rpm.
The dual-cam 5.0-liter V8 engine also with Eaton supercharger soars with 510 hp at 6000 rpm plus torque of 461 lb-ft running to 2500 rpm.
Wheels tie to the platform through a fully independent suspension system with computer-controlled 4-wheel electronic air suspension. Software in the module can determine whether the vehicle is driving on pavement or crossing irregular off-road terrain, and then automatically set the air springs to feel firm on roads or soft on trails.
V8-equipped issues carry the 2-channel Dynamic Response active lean control system which can control front and rear axles separately to deliver greater low-speed agility as well as enhanced control and stability at highway speeds.
All versions also employ Land Rover's Terrain Response 2 system to manage the 4WD system. On the console is a rotary dial for selecting different terrain settings that match various vehicle dynamic systems to the terrain. Settings include General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand, and Rock Crawl, plus an automatic setting that chooses the best terrain program.
Base model Range Rover Sport SE rolls on 19-inch alloy wheels and stocks the supercharged V6 plus bi-Xenon headlamps with washers, LED running lights and taillamps, heated power mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, a power tailgate and keyless entry system with push-button start. Cabin appointments include dual climate controls, grained leather seat upholstery and aluminum trim, 14-way power controls for front seats, 60/40 split-fold rear seat, 8-inch touch screen with HDD voice-recognition navigation, rear view camera, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and a Meridian 380-watt audio system with AM/FM/CD/USB.
Range Rover Sport Supercharged Autobiography has everything, including 20-inch alloy wheels, a vast panoramic roof, 16-way front seats with heating and cooling, front console cooling compartment, heated rear seats and a 23-speaker Meridian Signature sound system.
Land Rover's price list for Range Rover Sport 2014 begins at $63,495 but extends to $93,295 for the elite Supercharged Autobiography.
For more information on Land Rover vehicles, click here.