When the 2013 Range Rover got the radical reset that it did, we knew it was just a matter of time until the Range Rover Sport received a similar treatment. Today, we see the outcome of the ground-up redesign of the flagship's sportier sibling. As with the Range Rover, the Sport gets an all-new, all-aluminum chassis, which results in a weight savings of as much as 800 lb over its predecessor. Even with this impressive lightening, the Sport is no featherweight, with the V-6 model weighing in at 4727 lb and the V-8 at 5093 lb. But at least the midsize Sport is no longer as heavy as the extra-large Chevrolet Suburban, a dubious distinction held by its predecessor.
Unlike the flagship model, the naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 engine has been dropped from the lineup, with a 3.0-liter 340-hp supercharged V-6 serving as the base engine and the 5.0-liter, 510-hp supercharged V-8 carrying over as the upgrade engine on Supercharged and Autobiography models. In addition to the major weight loss and discontinuation of the non-supercharged V-8, additional concessions to efficiency include auto stop-start and regenerative battery charging, which prioritizes charging during deceleration, reducing parasitic drag on the engine when accelerating. Land Rover is claiming a 0-60 time of five seconds flat for the V-8, an improvement of nearly a full second over last year's model, and 6.9 seconds for the base V-6, which the brand claims is 0.3 seconds quicker than last year's naturally-aspirated V-8.
Although the Sport shares many similarities with the Range Rover, there are obviously some differences. The Sport, despite being dimensionally slightly smaller than the flagship, makes some additional concessions to practicality, most notably an available third-row seat allowing for "occasional" seven-passenger use. To accommodate the third row, the 2014 Sport is 2.5 inches longer than last year's model, with a seven-inch longer wheelbase. The Sport is 5.9 inches shorter than the Range Rover and 2.17 inches lower. Comparably-equipped, the Sport is expected to weigh approximately 100 lb less than an equivalent Range Rover.
Of course, being a Range Rover, even the "occasional" third row is power-folding and can be actuated by switches on either side of the cabin or in the cargo area. Also like the Range Rover, the Sport gets a broad array of customizable trims and finishes inside and out, with 11 available interior color themes, plus choice of seat color, three headliner colors, four aluminum and three genuine wood veneer finishes, 19 available paint colors, three contrast roof colors - Corris Grey, Santorini Black and Indus Silver, and wheel sizes from 19 to 22-inches. Exterior styling subjectively splits the difference between the wedgy Evoque and the more formal flagship Range Rover, combining elements of both into a trim, cohesive overall look.
In terms of interior features and technology, the Sport largely follows the pattern set by the Range Rover, with standard analog gauges with a 5-inch TFT display, and an optional 12.3-inch full TFT virtual gauge display, with a standard 8-inch center console touchscreen. After receiving criticism for their button-heavy, fussy controls, the number of physical switches has been reduced by 50 percent compared to the 2013 model. Interestingly, the Sport forgoes the rotary shifter in the Range Rover and Evoque models for a conventional vertical shift lever.
LED front running lights and rear taillights are standard with automatic high-beam assist optional. Multiple driver protection and detection aids are available including blind spot monitoring, reverse traffic detection, surround camera system which includes trailer reverse park guidance, and park assist, with the additional function of aiding in perpendicular reverse parking, and park exit, which will guide drivers out of tight parallel spaces back onto the main road.
Audiophiles will feel right at home in the 2014 Sport with an available 1700-watt, 23-speaker Meridian audio system. An optional rear-seat entertainment package includes twin rear video displays, and wireless digital headphones. If that's still not enough coddling for you and your passengers, a four-zone climate control system is optional, as is a center console cooler bin, and driver-configurable custom LED mood lighting. A heated windshield and steering wheel is available to those in northerly latitudes, and high-series models offer front seats with up to 14 different adjustments, also heated and cooled, of course. Bluetooth hands-free calling is standard, and the optional connectivity package adds wireless audio streaming, and USB connectivity.
Despite their sumptuous cabins, Range Rovers have always been renowned for their off-road capability, and the 2014 model improves upon its predecessor here as well. The air suspension now offers two off-road height settings of 1.4 inches or 2.6 inches of lift, compared to the 2013's single 2.2-inch lift. The air suspension offers a regular range of 4.5 inches from lowest to highest, with a manually-selectable mode raising it up to seven inches when needed. Maximum ground clearance increases by 2.3 inches to 11.2 inches available, and wading depth has increased six inches to 33.5 inches.
The suspension offers 10.2 inches of front, and 10.7 inches of rear travel, for a combined articulation of up to 21.5 inches. To take advantage of the suspension range and adjustability is Land Rover's Terrain Response 2 system with five settings: General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand and Rock Crawl. The system will also give drivers additional prompts, such as when to engage low range, when deemed necessary.
Unlike the 2013 model, the 2014 does not come with a low range transfer case as standard equipment. This is likely a dual concession to tightening CAFE standards as well as an acknowledgement that few of the Sport's buyers are likely traversing the Rubicon or going on jungle safaris.
Being a brand and a model unapologetically aimed at the top quartile of the vehicle buying public, prices are not exactly bargain-basement, but neither are they exorbitantly beyond those of its logical peers, the BMW X6 and Porsche Cayenne. The V-6 Sport SE starts at $63,495, including $895 destination, with the top-line Sport Autobiography with the supercharged V-8 going for $93,295. Indulging in the many "bespoke" options available, cresting the six-figure mark should not be difficult. If the 2014 Range Rover Sport tickles your fancy, it will be in showrooms this Fall.
|2014 Range Rover Sport |
|BASE PRICE ||$63,495-$93,295 |
|VEHICLE LAYOUT|| Front-engine, AWD, 5-7-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE|| 3.0L, 340-hp/332-lb-ft, 24-valve DOHC supercharged, direct-injected V-6 5.0L, 510-hp/461-lb-ft, 32-valve DOHC supercharged, direct-injected V-8|
|TRANSMISSION|| 8-speed automatic|
|CURB WEIGHT (MFR) ||4727-5093 lb|
|WHEELBASE ||115.1 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT ||191 x 78.1 x 70.1 in|
|0-60 MPH|| 5.0-6.9 sec (mfr. claim)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON|| V-6: 16/22 mpg, V-8: 14/20 mpg (est)|
|ON SALE IN U.S.|| Fall 2013|