The Range Rover Sport has been substantially revised for the 2010 model year with fresh styling, all-new engines, a redesigned interior, chassis refinements, and new technologies, including a surround camera system designed to aid towing and driving off road.
The Range Rover Sport was added to the Land Rover product portfolio only a few years ago as a bridge between the top-of-the-line Range Rover and the Land Rover LR3 (previously called Discovery and for 2010 called the LR4).
The 2010 Range Rover Sport and Land Rover LR4 are close cousins, sharing platforms, drive systems, suspension, and powertrain. The Range Rover Sport boasts more standard equipment, more upscale styling, and generally a more luxurious approach to the same mission: go anywhere, do anything, in any weather.
The 2010 Range Rover Sport's exterior design is an evolution of its previous look, not all-new, but cleaner and more modern than the original, 2006-09 Sport.
Range Rover Sport vs. the big Range Rover: The Sport is seven inches shorter in overall length than the big Range Rover, and more than five inches shorter in wheelbase. The Sport is slightly narrower and slightly lower to the ground, and the Sport is slightly smaller in human room, cabin volume and luggage space vs. the Range Rover. Overall, the Sport is smaller and sportier than the big Range Rover, which is more luxurious and more capable off road. Sport
The 2010 Range Rover Sport interior shares much of its technology and some of its design with the Land Rover LR4, which we count as a good thing. The Sport seats five.
All Range Rover Sport models are powered by a new 5.0-liter, 32-valve V8, the same engine used in the big Range Rover. The Sport engine is rated at 375 horsepower and 375 foot-pounds of torque in normally aspirated HSE trim, or 510 horsepower and 461 foot-pounds in the Supercharged model. All Sport models will use a ZF six-speed automatic transmission, and the drive system features a pushbutton low range for slogging through rough terrain. Each comes standard with full-time four-wheel drive.
The Range Rover Sport competes in the midsize luxury sport utility vehicle segment with Acura MDX, Lexus RX 350, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5, and BMW X5.
The Range Rover Sport has a whole new face for 2010. The 2010 model features a new hood, new fenders with larger fender flares, the fenders incorporating two-bar LED turn indicators, new side vents, relocated lower air intakes, and new LED lamps front and rear. A two-bar grille replaces the previous three-bar grille and uses a more open mesh design.
The result of all the changes is a cleaner, more integrated, more aerodynamically efficient package.
For 2010, Range Rover Sport has been completely transformed inside. Every panel, every gauge and every switch has been redesigned to be more beautiful and more user-friendly. The major elements, including the dashboard, instrument panel, door panels and seats, all have been redesigned and upgraded. There are fewer switches overall, since many of the switching functions have been transferred to the touch screen at the top center of the instrument panel.
Range Rover Sport boasts an enormous list of standard equipment including pushbutton starting, a power tilt-and-telescope steering column, power tailgate, a full-color driver information center between the main gauges, satellite navigation with voice recognition, and all of the usual power assists.
We found the new Range Rover Sport interior to be beautifully made and tightly finished, sumptuous, comfortable, and quiet. The steering wheel is big and thick, mounting a complete set of controls for audio, telephone and cruise control, and the new power seats are beautifully made, supportive and comfortable for the long haul. The center stack has been completely redesigned to be easier to read and use. This interior is simply light years ahead of the old truck's and more than competitive with the other luxury SUVs in this segment.
The optional surround camera system uses five cameras, two facing forward, one on either side of the truck facing down, and one at the rear to give a near-360-degree view of surroundings. Camera views can be selected from the main nav screen, and the view can be zoomed if necessary. This feature was developed to assist drivers in trailer hookups and trailer maneuvering, as well as for checking all-around clearances and terrain when driving off-road. It shows live high-resolution video as you go, which can be enormously entertaining when traversing streams, because if the water is clear, you can see the rocks under the water and steer around them. (Trout fisherman may want to use it to look for fish!) No other car or SUV in the world offers this feature.
We drove a Range Rover Sport HSE with the climate package, luxury package, surround camera system, and locking rear differential.
The HSE comes with the baseline 375-hp V8 engine and six-speed ZF automatic transmission, a combination that will hurl the 5500-pound truck from 0 to 60 mph in only 7.2 seconds, virtually the same performance as the old 4.2-liter supercharged engine, without the extra cost.
It's the first home-built engine for a Range Rover, shared with its Jaguar cousins, and it has been modified from the Jaguar design for off-road use. That means a deeper oil pan to keep lubrication continuous even at high body angles when off road. All of the electric motors, pulleys and bearings under the hood, plus the starter, alternator and air conditioning compressor, have been completely waterproofed, which is a good thing because the Sport is rated to travel through 27 inches of water.
The improved ZF six-speed automatic transmission shifts very quickly and quietly, up or down. If you opt for the Supercharged model, you get a Sport mode added to the transmission and paddle shifters added to the steering wheel. These last two features were not on our HSE, but we didn't miss them.
Land Rover developed the basic suspension and the adaptive damping shock absorbers for the Range Rover Sport on the famous Nordschleife, the northern loop of the Nurburgring circuit in Germany, and it shows through to the average driver on a twisty country road.
The 2010 model's Terrain Response system menu has a new Dynamic Response program added to the menu, specifically to tune the suspension for high-performance road use. In this mode, the body is lowered and the shocks stiffened. There is very little body roll for a hefty truck that rides this high off the ground and has a high center of gravity, and the air suspension system combines with the P255/50R19 all-season tires to yield a quiet, smooth ride even in horrible off-road conditions. Hill Descent Control is standard, and there are additional settings in the system for rock crawling and sand driving. Modifications to the front suspension have made the steering response crisper as well.
Brakes on the HSE have been upgraded to the outgoing Supercharged model's 14.2-inch ventilated front discs and four-piston calipers, with 13.8-inch ventilated rear discs and twin-piston calipers, and they perform extremely well, even when soaking wet from underwater maneuvers: powerful, progressive and smooth. The brakes are used by the dynamic stability control system and the Roll Stability Control system to keep the truck on its intended path whenever cornering speeds are too high for conditions (when it detects a skid, for example).
In highway cruise mode, the truck settles down, the engine purrs in the background until provoked, the suspension lowers the truck closer to the road surface, and this fierce off-roader turns into a quiet limousine that tracks on down the road with a minimum of fuss and driver input.
The Range Rover Sport is rated to pull a 7700-pound trailer, and it has a trailer stability control built into the chassis system.
The Range Rover Sport is the latest arrival in a large, wide-ranging market segment of luxury SUVs in the $50,000-plus price segment. It has a very good combination of engine power, relatively good fuel economy, interior space, and luxury touches for American tastes (the U.S. is the world's largest market for Range Rover products). Its new on-road manners and stability are more than matched by its world-class off-road capabilities, and in our opinion, it looks great, inside and out.
Jim McCraw filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report after his test drive in Edinburgh, Scotland.