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2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SE and Supercharged First Drive

The 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is equal parts luxury and capability.

What It Is
A sporty luxury SUV with unsurpassed off-road capabilities
Best Thing
Dynamic Mode on the V-8 models.
Worst Thing
Loud road noise at highway speeds.
Snap Judgment
If you want a luxury SUV that can tackle city roads and the toughest terrain with ease, the Range Rover Sport is the right choice.


The Range Rover brand has become synonymous with off-road capability with a refined ride for daily driving. The new Range Rover Sport is no different. Although smaller than its full-size brethren, the Range Rover Sport offers the same capabilities and luxuries you've come to expect from the brand. Even though the majority of Range Rover owners never take their vehicles off-road, there's a sense of comfort that comes with owning one. No matter what situation you may find yourself in, the Range Rover Sport can handle it. In today's SUV market, the majority of buyers are looking for safety, fuel efficiency, and capability. The Range Rover Sport delivers on all fronts, and throws in a sense of luxury and refinement you'll be hard-pressed to find in the many of its competitors.

The 2014 Range Rover Sport is offered in four models, the SE, HSE, Supercharged, and Autobiography, with prices ranging from $63,495 to $93,295. For the new model year, Land Rover has implemented an all-new high strength aluminum body structure that not only provides significant weight savings, but improves fuel economy and emissions. A third row for occasional use has also been added, along with new technologies like the Terrain Response 2 system and an array of driver assist technologies. As one of the fastest, most agile, and responsive vehicles Land Rover has ever produced, the 2014 Range Rover Sport is expected to close the gap between the compact Evoque and standard, full-size Range Rover, providing an alternative to suit any lifestyle.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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Walkaround

At first glance, the new 2014 Range Rover Sport has a commanding presence; it has aggressive styling and looks like it is firmly planted to the ground. This new model features classic Range Rover design cues, including the clamshell hood, floating roof, and side fender vents which have a more dynamic, sloping treatment match by twin vents in the hood. Near-flush side glass and a premium black gloss finish on the pillars help to exemplify the floating roof design, as well as the streamlined body. The headlight clusters use LEDs with slimmer lights, which creates an aggressive appearance.

Slightly shorter than many midsize sedans, the Range Rover Sport is 191 inches from bumper to bumper. Thanks to the aluminum body structure, Land Rover was able to shave off nearly 800 pounds and extend the frame by 2.5 inches versus the 2013 model. The vehicle also features a pronounced wheel arch design and horizontal body lines, all of which point back to the model's strong heritage of upright off-roaders. Developed alongside the new Range Rover, the Range Rover Sport has a modern, streamlined appearance, with slimmer lights and a rear-sloping grille and sculpted corners.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

Click thumbnails for detailed view

Sitting Down

Taking a seat behind the wheel of the new 2014 Range Rover Sport, you will immediately notice the quality and refinement of the interior. The cabin is surrounded in leather and other soft-touch materials to provide a level of comfort unmatched by many competitors, lest you opt up for their "premium" interior options that swath their dashboards in similarly sumptuous leather.

The center console is no doubt the centerpiece of the interior, with strong lines throughout the cabin drawing your eyes to the instrument panel and touchscreen display. Mounted higher than in previous models, the center console is closer to the driver for ease of use. Chrome pillars flow from the instrument panel into the rear cabin, with aluminum accents flowing from the center stack through the rest of the dashboard, adding to the premium ambience. The steering wheel is slightly smaller and thicker than the 2013 model's, which definitely helps emphasize the "sport" in the Range Rover Sport's name.

Front and rear seats are supportive and comfortable, easily maneuverable for all passengers. The craftsmanship it took to put together the interior is clearly seen in the twin-needle stitching used to finish the leather seats and other leather-wrapped interior surfaces. All aspects of the stitching have been specified by Range Rover designers, from the length and direction of the stitches, to the spin, thickness, and material of the thread. Not only have the seats been carefully designed, the front seats offer extra padding for a more ride. Thanks to the extra 2.5 inches in the in the Sport's wheelbase for 2014, legroom in the rear seat has improved along with shoulder room and head room. A power third row is available, which folds flat into the floor for added cargo room. The larger Range Rover model surprisingly doesn't have this option for extra passenger seating available.

Driving

We kicked off our drive through winding roads along the California coast in the 2014 Range Rover Sport SE, where the newest model showed what it was capable of. The supercharged 340 horsepower V-6 engine delivered plenty of power when needing to get up to speed on the highway before we turned onto winding roads filled with hairpin turns and extremely narrow lanes. The new Range Rover Sport gripped the road through the corners, and maneuvered with ease around the tight spaces Even when the railing on the side of the road disappeared and we were left with steep cliffs, there was a sense that the Range Rover Sport was glued to the road, giving us peace of mind to keep focused on the road ahead.

The second portion of the drive was a two-hour-long off-road course specifically designed to test the capabilities of the new Range Rover Sport, and it's here that we switched from the SE to the Supercharged model that is powered by a 510-horsepower, supercharged V-8 engine. Not familiar with off-roading, I was glad to learn that the new model had an auto setting where it picked the best off-road setting to be in depending on the terrain. However, it's easy to take it out of auto mode and switch settings manually. There was no obstacle that couldn't be overcome. Whether climbing a steep hill, going over large bumps and dips, or going over loose terrain, the 2014 Range Rover Sport performed like expected—and it did it on tires not optimized for the rough stuff.

We finished up the drive in the Supercharged model, and while back on the winding roads, put the vehicle into Dynamic Mode, which significantly reduces the amount of body lean during cornering and increases handling limits. Only available on the V-8 models, Dynamic Mode combines Dynamic Response active lean control, a Dynamic Active Rear Locking Differential, and Torque Vectoring by Braking. If you don't know what all that means, just know that it'll keep you on road as well as Terrain Response performs off it. As soon as we switched into driving mode, cornering at higher speeds was much easier. The Range Rover Sport was able to make tighter turns without feeling like it was sliding into another lane. The difference between Dynamic Mode and regular driving was very noticeable, and it was easy to switch from one to another with just a flick of a button.

Summary

Whether you're looking for a daily driver that stands out from the pack of other luxury brands or a vehicle with true off-road capabilities, the 2014 Range Rover Sport should be at the top of your list. Smaller than the Range Rover, the Sport offers better fuel economy for those concerned with rising gas prices. In terms of off-road capabilities, you'd be hard-pressed to find another vehicle that can match the Range Rover Sport that doesn't share the same brand. Land Rover has produced a vehicle that has a more streamlined appearance, with a refined luxurious interior that is comfortable both on the city streets and off the beaten path.

Basic Specs

SE: 3.0-liter supercharged V-6, eight-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive, 340-hp, $63,495, 17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy

Supercharged: 5.0-liter supercharged V-8, eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, four-wheel drive, 510-hp, $93,295, 14 mpg city/19 mpg hwy

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