2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Review

2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport - Redesigned Land Rover Range Rover Sport is roomier and sportier.


The Land Rover Range Rover Sport has been redesigned for 2014 to be the fastest, most agile Sport ever. That's largely because it's shed a whopping 800 pounds. Most automakers strive to cut just a fraction of that weight loss for better performance and fuel economy.

The Sport still is no lightweight at 4,727 to 5,093 pounds, and you can feel the weight when driving rapidly through tight curves or making quick moves. But it's a lot more fun to drive than its predecessor.

The old Sport's body-on-frame construction is gone, replaced by an aluminum unibody like the one for the new Range Rover. Aluminum panels replace steel ones. A new high-strength aluminum structure helps give the 2014 Sport better roadability, although it's no  Porsche Cayenne.  

With two full-time four-wheel-drive (4WD) systems, the new four-door hatchback Sport has the off-road abilities of a mountain goat, with an added 2 inches of ground clearance for an overall 11-inch clearance. An optional system for serious off-roaders adds a low range and a locking center differential to the all-wheel-drive system.

However, I wonder how many regular owners of this $62,600-$92,400 SUV would want to get its body dented or scratched during off-road driving.

The 2014 Sport has a new smoother, swept-back design. It's 2.5 inches longer, at 191 inches, than its predecessor, with a seven-inch-longer wheelbase for a larger cabin and room for an optional third-row seat. That seat, though, is really only suitable for kids.

The center of the more sculpted second-row seat is too stiff for comfort and is best left to the huge fold-down armrest that contains two cupholders.

Replacing a normally aspirated V-8 as the base engine is a supercharged 3-liter V-6 with 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. I tested the Sport with the V-6, which provided strong in-town and highway performance. If you want more punch, the Sport also is offered with a whopping supercharged 5-liter V-8 with 510 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque.

The official 0-60 mph time is 6.9 seconds with the V-6 and 5 seconds with the V-8. Towing capacity is 7,716 pounds.

Both engines shoot power through a new eight-speed automatic transmission, which replaces a six-speed unit. The slick new automatic has an easily used manual-shift feature, controlled by the console shift lever or optional paddle shifters.

Fuel economy is improved, but still isn't a strong point. The V-6 delivers an estimated 17 miles per gallon in the city and 23 on highways. It has an efficient start/stop capability to prevent fuel from being squandered when the engine is idling for an extended period. With the V-8, estimated economy is 14 city and 19 highway. The fuel tank has a 27.7 gallon capacity.

Helping keep the Sport firmly on roads are new aluminum front and rear suspensions, with a four-corner electronic air suspension setup that lets the Sport glide over rough surfaces. To sharpen the Sport's on-road performance, it has gotten firmer dampers, longer front suspension links and different front-end geometry.

Although supple, the Sport's ride is on firm side. Assisting handling are four-wheel electronic traction control, a roll stability control system, hydraulically actuated anti-roll bars and adaptive dampers. Hill Descent Control helps during rugged off-road driving.

The electrically assisted steering is quick, but has a rather heavy feel. The brake pedal has a nice linear action. Brakes have electronic brake force distribution for surer quick stops, besides cornering brake control. You can get the V-8 with adaptive dampening and active lean control, an active locking rear differential and torque vectoring via braking.

A small rotary console dial controls a fully automatic Terrain Response system. The V-8 Sport adds Dynamic mode to the dial's commands to sharpen handling.

Large door handles enhance entry, but stepping in or getting out requires extra effort. The posh, quiet interior has an especially large front console, but there are supportive leather seats and a bunch of safety and comfort features expected in a luxury vehicle. They include dual-zone climate control, sumptuous power front seats and soft-touch surfaces at key touch points. A heated steering wheel and heated rear seats also are available.

Controls are easy to use, although the driver's door-mounted power windows controls are set very high. An 8-inch Touch-screen with a driver information system is easy to use, although bright sunlight causes gauges to be a bit difficult to read.

Safety features include numerous air bags and side curtains, besides optional adaptive cruise control.

There's an optional virtual gauge display and a full-length sliding panoramic glass roof.

Occupants sit high, with plenty of glass area (even without the sunroof), although large outside mirrors and thick windshield pillars partly block a driver's vision when turning corners. The cabin has a decent number of storage areas.

The power-operated open/close hatch is handy when your arms are full of groceries, but the wide cargo area floor is high. Rear seatbacks easily flip forward to greatly enlarge the cargo area.

If nothing else, the Land Rover Range Rover Sport has lots of old snob appeal, and that's something you can't really buy.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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