If you've followed our Styling Showdowns over the past year, you'll know we're not always unanimous fans of the new versions of vehicles, often preferring their predecessors to the unconventional styling applied to the new generation. But in the case of the 2014 Range Rover Sport, we honestly can't find much we don't like.
There was nothing inherently ugly or bad about the 2013 model, but the 2014 is an improvement in almost every subjective and objective way. And although this column usually focuses mostly on interior and exterior styling, we feel it's worth mentioning that the new model is a significantly lighter than its predecessor -- up to 800 pounds. In addition, the 2014 model adds a third row, giving the Sport seven-passenger capacity in a pinch.
But let's focus on the subjective. The 2013 Range Rover Sport shared a strong resemblance with the flagship Range Rover, the primary differences being a shorter overall length and a more pronounced angle to the rear cargo glass. The 2014 Sport also closely resembles the top-of-the-line Range Rover, but cuts a more distinctive profile thanks to a significant influence from its little brother Evoque. Not quite as radical and wedgy as the Evoque, the 2014 Sport nonetheless shows quite a bit more stylistic daring than its patrician flagship or its predecessor, with a more pronounced greenhouse taper from front to rear, and a steeper rear glass angle.
And although we're not usually big fans of faux fender vents, in this case, we think the Sport's front fender-mounted vent looks better than the large, contrived vertical sheetmetal slats on the Range Rover, and shows more creativity than the styling on the 2013 model's front fender vent.
On the inside, the changes are more subtle, but still apparent. The 2013 model's chunky, bulky-looking steering wheel has been replaced with a trimmer design that while still substantial shows more stylistic nuance than the fat, flat hub in last year's model.
Unlike the Range Rover and Evoque, which have adopted a retractable round knob shifter, the Sport retains a vertical lever, although like many newer vehicles, it's just a fancy switch, having no direct mechanical connection to the transmission. Land Rover's claim of the 2014 Sport's dashboard having 50 percent fewer physical switches than the 2013 model looks legitimate, with the new model's appearance noticeably more streamlined. Overall, we're fans of the 2014 Range Rover Sport's appearance, and think it's a substantial and worthwhile improvement over its predecessor. What do you think?