2011 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Review

2011 Land Rover Range Rover Sport - Not for everyone, the Rover Sport is a truly special vehicle.


Vehicle Tested
2011 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Supercharged
Base Price: $74,545
At-Tested Price: $78,495
Built in England.

Black Lacquer Finish Trim
Locking Rear Differential
Premium Audio Package
20-Inch Wheels

Engine: Supercharged 5.0-liter V8
6-Speed Automatic
Drive Wheels: Four-Wheel Drive

The lineup consists of four vehicles, all SUVs. The smallest is the LR2, a five-passenger compact-size utility. There's also the traditional Range Rover, which carries the torch as the ultimate five-passenger luxury SUV. In between there's the seven-passenger LR4 and the enthusiast-focused Range Rover Sport.

Though the Range Rover Sport carries the Range Rover nameplate, it actually shares underpinnings with its larger cousin, the Land Rover LR4. The five-passenger Sport was introduced in 2006 and competes with sport-orientated luxury SUVs like the BMW X5, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Porsche Cayenne.

Two models are offered: HSE and Supercharged. The HSE has a 375-horsepower 5.0-liter V8 engine. The Supercharged comes with a supercharged version of that engine that makes 510 horsepower. Both engines mate to a 6-speed automatic transmission that has a separate shift gate for clutch-less manual operation.

Standard on both models is full-time four-wheel drive. It includes a low range for severe off-road driving and Land Rover's Terrain Response System, which is designed to tailor ride height, suspension settings, and traction control to specific off-road conditions. Height-adjustable suspension and hill-descent control are also standard. A mechanically locking rear differential is optional.

Standard safety equipment includes antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control, hill-descent control, tire-pressure monitor, front- and rear-obstacle detection systems, rear-view monitor, and dual-front, front-side, and curtain-side airbags. A rear-view camera is not offered.

The HSE lists for $59,645 and includes air conditioning with dual-zone automatic climate controls, power tilt-telescope leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls, cruise control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front bucket seats with lumbar adjustment, memory system (driver seat, mirrors, steering wheel), center console, split-folding rear seat, wood interior trim. heated power mirrors with passenger-side tilt-down back-up aid, power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, keyless access and starting, sunroof, Harman/Kardon AM/FM/CD/MP3 player, iPod adapter, Bluetooth cell-phone connection, navigation system with voice recognition, trip computer, automatic day/night rearview mirror, outside-temperature indicator, universal garage door opener, rain-sensing variable-intermittent wipers, illuminated visor mirrors, cargo cover, rear defogger, intermittent rear wiper/washer, automatic headlights, floormats, theft-deterrent system, rear privacy glass, front and rear fog lights, HID headlights with washers, class III trailer-hitch receiver, wiring harness, trailer-sway control, height-adjustable and load-leveling suspension, 255/50HR19 tires and alloy wheels.

The $74,545 Supercharged adds to the HSE the supercharged engine, uprated brakes, driver-seat adjustable side bolsters, heated front and rear seats, center console cooler box, satellite radio, high-definition radio, heated windshield and washer jets, roll-control suspension and 275/40R20 tires.

Nearly all of the Superchargered's features are available as options on the HSE. One stand alone option is a DVD entertainment system that utilizes two head-rest mounted video screens. Also available are two stand-alone packages. Available on the HSE is a $9000 GT Limited Edition Package, which includes alcantara seat trim, heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, heated windshield and washer jets, upgraded harman/kardon sound system, high-definition radio, satellite radio, unique interior and exterior trim, body cladding, rear spoiler, 20-inch alloy wheels. The $11,000 Autobiography Package is offered on the Supercharged model. It includes locking rear differential, upgraded and extended leather upholstery, unique interior and exterior trim, surround camera system, body cladding, rear spoiler, self-dimming steering-linked adaptive headlights, unique alloy wheels. All models have a $850 destination charge and are built in England.

Get up and Go  The HSE's 375-horsepower V8 is a willing and responsive engine, but it's burdened with the task of moving more than 5500 pounds. As a result, it's not as quick off the line and doesn't have the passing punch as the V8-powered BMW X5 or Porsche Cayenne. When prodded, the HSE musters sufficient acceleration and decent passing response. If you want more power, opt for the Supercharged model.

It is deceptively quick. The supercharged V8 pushes the Sport from zero to 60 mph in less than six seconds, making it one of the fastest vehicles in the class. In addition, the engine provides instant and ample passing power.

Both engines are extremely smooth and produce a forceful growl under hard acceleration. Transmission operation is seamless, with smooth upshifts and prompt downshifts. The manual mode works well.

Towing capacity is an impressive 7716 pounds.

The full-time four-wheel-drive system requires no input from the driver unless you want to shift into low range for off-road driving. With 8.9 inches of ground clearance and the Terrain Response System, Land Rover can rightfully claim that the Sport is the off-road king of luxury-sport SUVs. It's not as nimble as a Jeep Wrangler, but its vast array of electronic gizmos makes it virtually unstoppable off the beaten path.
The Supercharged is EPA rated at 12 mpg city and 17 mpg highway. Those are unimpressive numbers to say the least. In addition, Land Rover says the both engines require more-expensive premium-grade fuel. In routine driving, expect to average 13-15 mpg, perhaps 17 mpg on longer highway trips.

On the Road  Land Rover has long been famous for producing smooth riding SUVs that can take off-road punishment. The Range Rover Sport is no exception to that rule. It's rides as smoothly as a sporty luxury sedan. Tires and suspension absorb all but the largest bumps with aplomb and the available electronic suspension does an excellent job of filtering out secondary motions so common in large SUVs.

Unlike its more sedate cousins, Range Rover and LR3, Range Rover Sport offers a fair amount of handling prowess. It's not as agile as Porsche Cayenne or BMW X5, but it's more nimble than you'd expect. Steering feels somewhat ponderous at parking speeds, but firms up nicely as the pace picks up, brakes are strong and offer plenty of stopping power, tires have ample grip, and the electronic suspension does an excellent job of mitigating body roll in turns.
Still, the Sport is a 5500 pound SUV, so you shouldn't expect it to handle like a sports sedan. There's also a fair amount of brake dive and acceleration squat. In all, the Range Rover Sport delivers a firm but supple ride and much better on-road handling than typical luxury SUVs.

Interior noise levels are low. There's a subtle hint of wind noise around the side mirrors, but it's only noticeable at speeds above 70 mph. Otherwise, the Sport is among the quietest SUVs on the market.

Behind the Wheel  Sport's interior design is upright and conservative. Gauges are dead ahead of the driver and easy to read in a glance. Window controls are up high on the door and clearly marked. Radio and climate controls are conveniently placed in the center stack. For the most part they are logical and easy to operate, but many of the buttons sport similar markings aren't logically placed. Standard navigation system is operated by touch screen or voice commands. It is not as hard to program as you might expect, but the screen is a long reach for most drivers.

Interior materials have improved since the Sport's introduction in 2006. Most surfaces are covered in leather or high-grade plastics. The headliner has a particularly rich feel as well.

Front seats are upright and chair-like. Still, they are very comfortable and surprisingly supportive in aggressive driving. Leg room is good, but head room is only adequate for adults over six-feet tall. Driving position is excellent, thanks in part to the tilt-telescope steering wheel. Outward visibility is only fair because of thick roof pillars and a smallish back window.

Rear seats are nicely trimmed but flat and lack support or long-haul cushioning. On the upside, head and leg room are excellent, and the step-up isn't as high as you'd expect.

Cargo room is good and easily expandable with folding rear seats. Tailgate has separate opening window, which is a nice item when loading smaller items or grocery bags. Interior storage is exceptional with lots of open and covered bins. Available center console cooler bin is a great touch and works as advertised.

Bottom Line  Given the price of gasoline today, I would agree that the idea of driving around all day in a luxury SUV with an EPA rated of 12 mpg city isn't very appealing. That's OK thought because the Range Rover Sport is a niche vehicle and it's not aimed at a large audience. Not many people need a luxury SUV that can crawl up the side of a mountain, tow 3-plus tons, and capture the prime valet-parking spot at elite restaurants.

Yet, it's hard not to like the Sport for its near-perfect blend of utility, sport, and unstoppable traction. Prices are high, no doubt, but you get all of the expected luxury features and the élan of this elite English make.

Specifications 2011 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Supercharged
4-door wagon
Supercharged DOHC V8
Wheelbase, in.
Size, liters/cu. in.
5.0 / 305
Length, in.
188.3Horsepower @ rpm
375 @ 6500
Width, in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) @ rpm
375 @ 3500
Height, in.
6-Speed Automatic
Weight, lbs.
EPA Estimates, mpg
12 city / 17 highway
Cargo Capacity, cu. ft.
Fuel Capacity, gals.
Manufacturer's Warranty
Seating Capacity
4 years / 50,000 miles
Front Head Room, in.
Front Leg Room, in.
6 years / Unlimited miles
Second-Row Head Room, in.
Free Roadside Assistance
4 years / 50,000 miles
Second-Row Leg Room, in.
Free Scheduled Maintenance

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.