Introduced for the 2006 model year, and inspired by the Range Stormer concept, Land Rover Range Rover Sport falls between the LR3 and the rest of the Range Rover line in terms of size, and its starting price of $56,750, puts it in the middle of Land Rover's offerings price-wise as well. The Range Rover Sport and the Land Rover LR3 are built on the same chassis, but the Sport is a bit larger, and has more of a performance focus than the rest of the Range Rover line, which generally push luxury first.
While the Land Rover Range Rover Sport is still an SUV, it is aptly named, as it is more sporty than strictly utilitarian. Admirable features of this vehicle include a switch from the traditional Land Rover-favored BMW engines to a choice of two different V8's that were actually developed by Jaguar. The options in this case are a 300 horsepower 4.4 liter, or a supercharged 390 horsepower 4.2 liter, which engine makes it the second most powerful vehicle the maker has ever built. Both versions of the Sport come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission and a navigational system but the adaptive cruise control is optional.
While even the supercharged Sport isn't the swiftest of SUVs, taking 7.2 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph, it has a four-wheel drive system that makes it a much better performer than the LR3 when going off-road. Central to this system is a computerized "Terrain Response" program, originally introduced in 2005 as a feature of the LR3. It includes specific settings for driving on such surfaces as snow, sand, or rock, and it makes the Range Rover Sport (and the LR3) the best off-road SUV currently available.
While the Range Rover Sport is an excellent choice for off-roading, however, and does feature fairly comfortable front seats and a decent towing capacity, there are a few features that are less than stellar. The power door locks, for example, are awkwardly placed in the middle of the dashboard, and its fuel efficiency leaves much to be desired, garnering only 13-14 mpg in the city, and 18-19 on open highway. Add to that a fairly hefty curb weight, and the Land Rover Range Rover Sport becomes slightly less attractive.
Still, for those who like British design elements, and desire the prestige of a Land Rover at 3/4 the price of the top-of-the-line model, the Range Rover Sport is powerful and sporty enough to fit the bill.
Related: Land Rover LR3 review