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2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader January 2015

Many customers hold the 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport in high regard for its styling, luxury and role as a status symbol. What most owners probably don't realize, however, is that the Range Rover Sport is also one of the most capable off-road vehicles in the world.

In the civilized world, where the vast majority of Range Rover Sport SUVs spend their time, this hefty luxury model can feel a bit overgrown and unruly. However, the Range Rover Sport shines brightest when comfortably cruising the highway, ambling through serene mountain passes and mushing through snow-covered passages that lead to ski resorts or winter cabins. Fresh from its thorough makeover last year, the 2015 Range Rover Sport is now more luxurious, more powerful and more fuel efficient than the model it replaced, making the sporty version of the big Land Rover SUV all the more appealing.

What's New for 2015?

A new SVR trim is added to the Range Rover Sport lineup, featuring a 550-horsepower engine, a firmer sport suspension and unique trim and detailing. The rest of the Range Rover Sport models receive new options packages with increased safety features, while Land Rover's InControl Apps suite becomes a standalone option.

What We Like

Elegant styling; impressive power and handling ability; first-rate luxury trappings; off-road prowess

What We Don't

Cave-like interior; big blind spot over driver's shoulder; finicky touchscreen for the navigation system; poor fuel economy on the V8

How Much?

$64,275-$115,000

Fuel Economy

The Land Rover Range Rover Sport offers a choice of two engines. The SE employs a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine, good for 340 hp and 322 lb-ft of torque. Teamed with the standard all-wheel drive (AWD) and 8-speed automatic, this choice returns an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimate of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. The Supercharged trim brings a more powerful 5.0-liter V8, good for 510 hp and 461 lb-ft. EPA estimates for this engine are 14 mpg city/19 mpg hwy. The SVR employs the same V8 but bumps horsepower to 550 with no change in the EPA figures.

Standard Features & Options

The Land Rover Range Rover Sport comes in five trims, each with their own optional upgrades: SE, HSE, Supercharged, Autobiography and SVR.

The base SE ($64,275) includes a supercharged V6 engine, an 8-speed automatic transmission, AWD with adjustable Terrain Response settings and air suspension. It also includes front and rear parking sensors, 14-way power front seats, power-folding and heated side mirrors with the reverse tilt-down feature, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry, a rearview camera, HID headlights, leather seating, dual-zone automatic temperature control, a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a power rear lift gate, 19-inch alloy wheels, 8-speaker audio with touchscreen navigation, Bluetooth and USB/iPod support.

The HSE ($69,420) adds perforated leather seats, fog lights, 20-in alloy wheels, heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, and chrome grille and fender vents.

The Supercharged ($80,920) trim brings a V8 engine, a more sophisticated Terrain Response 2 AWD system, Dynamic Response with lean control, Dynamic Active Rear Locking Differential and Adaptive Dynamics with variable damper control.

The top-of-the-line Autobiography ($93,420) includes a 19-speaker Meridian audio system, automatic high beams, adaptive HID headlights, heated and ventilated front seats, 21-in wheels, a 360-degree surround-view camera, a heated rear seat, rear cross-traffic alert and blind spot monitoring.

The performance-oriented SVR ($111,400) brings more horsepower, a recalibrated sport suspension, electronically controlled active 2-stage exhaust, unique sport seats and interior trim, recalibrated locking rear differential, 6-piston Brembo brakes, aggressive bumper and front fascia design and revised electric power steering.

Many of the Autobiography's standard features can be found in options packages on the other trims. The 5+2 package adds a third-row seat, while the Climate Comfort and Visibility package adds fog lights, adaptive headlights, a blind spot monitor, rear-traffic detection, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel and heated windshield wipers. The Extra Duty package adds the Terrain Response 2 system. Blind spot monitoring, a surround-view camera, parking assist, a soft door-closer and reverse-traffic detection are part of the Vision and Convenience package. Individual options include adaptive cruise control, a panoramic sunroof and 20- and 21-in wheels. Land Rover's InControl App suite is now a standalone option.

Premium options offered include a 1,700-watt, 23-speaker Meridian audio system, climate-controlled rear seats, 4-zone automatic climate control, a head-up display and a rear-seat entertainment system.

Safety

The 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport comes standard with a full array of safety features, including front-side and side-curtain airbags, electronic traction and stability control and an adjustable speed limiter.

Neither the government nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash-tested the Range Rover Sport.

Behind the Wheel

We chose the Range Rover Sport HSE with the V6, because we wanted to see if there was really any disadvantage to going with less power to save money. To our surprise, we found the supercharged V6 engine more than capable, delivering excellent off-the-line starts and an abundance of passing power. The Range Rover Sport looks big and menacing, but it's amazingly agile and quite enjoyable when the road begins to twist and turn.

Around town, the Range Rover Sport's size does present a problem, especially in areas where parking spaces are drawn for Prius-sized cars. However, numerous electronic parking aids, including the surround-view camera, help alleviate some of the hassle.

Leave the confines of city life and the Range Rover Sport reveals its trump card: amazing off-road prowess. The Terrain Response AWD system is simply phenomenal. Be it muddy paths or unplowed back roads, our Range Rover Sport, even with its 20-in performance tires, pushed through it all with ease.

All was not perfect on this test drive, however. Land Rover's navigation system takes far too long to power up, its voice recognition abilities are sketchy at best, and we couldn't get our iPod to connect to the system via the USB hub. We also had a problem with the rather large B-pillar next to the driver's head (it creates a huge blind spot) and the odd placement of the upward-facing power window switches that allowed rain to soak the panel every time we lowered the window.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 BMW X5 -- The X5 may be the only SUV with better handling, but it's not large inside, and its ride can be somewhat punishing with the bigger wheel and tire setup.

2015 Porsche Cayenne -- The Cayenne offers more model choices, including a hybrid, along with a lower base price. However, you can't get a third-row seat option, and the Cayenne can't follow the Range Rover Sport in the toughest off-road situations.

2015 Audi Q7 -- Audi's Q7 feels a bit more carlike in the way it rides and handles, and it offers the option of a diesel engine.

Used Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG -- You'll get scintillating performance and more interior room in a 2011-2014 MB GL63 AMG, plus you can get a longer warranty via the Mercedes-Benz certified pre-owned program.

AutoTrader's Advice

Go with the HSE and the supercharged V6, then load it up with options packages. You'll save a ton of cash, get better fuel economy than with the V8 and still have a very enjoyable SUV with which to impress your friends and family.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport: New Car Review - Autotrader