2011 Range Rover Sport HSEPosted on December 14th, 2010
Luxury sport-utility vehicle has no limits
By Nina Russin
The Range Rover Sport’s handsome exterior can be misleading. Its honeycomb grille and 19-inch alloy wheels might appear better suited to Beverly Hills than the hills of Hollister. I see a lot of squeaky-clean Range Rovers running about: the exteriors suspiciously free of rock chips or blemishes.
That’s a shame. While I’m not suggesting that the Range Rover has less-than-exceptional road manners, owners who fail to venture off the beaten path are missing a tremendous treat. What other car could wade through the Atchafalaya swamp without rattling a teacup?
The Range Rover Sport is the performance version of the HSE, with a choice of naturally-aspirated or supercharged V-8 engines, a six-speed automatic transmission and permanent four-wheel drive. The test car comes with the 375-horsepower V-8, which accelerates from zero-to-sixty miles-per-hour in 7.2 seconds.
Base price is $59,645, not including an $850 delivery charge. Options on the test car include a premium audio upgrade ($1650), luxury interior package ($4700), and vision assist package that includes a surround camera and adaptive front headlamps ($1200), bringing the price as tested to $68,495.
Terrain response transforms treacherous roads into child’s play
Land Rover’s terrain response system modifies throttle, transmission and suspension response according to the driving surface: road, grass/gravel/snow, mud/ruts, sand, or rock crawl.
While less sophisticated off-road systems can navigate the same trails as a Range Rover, terrain response makes it much easier. The driver uses a rotary knob on the center console to change settings.
Terrain response eliminates what I call the “skitter factor.” Off-road trails in Arizona contain a lot of loose sand and rocks. The surface makes the car skitter, even if all four wheels are on the ground.
When I drove the Range Rover Sport on a trail east of Phoenix, the wheels felt as solid on the dirt as they might on pavement. Competitive products I’ve tested on the same trail don’t have as much traction.
Standard hill descent control automatically limits vehicle speed on steep descents without the driver applying the brakes, while hill start assist prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards when he accelerates from a stop.
Using the brakes on steep hills can upset the chassis, causing the vehicle to slide sideways. Once this happens, it can be tough to correct the problem and resume directional control. Using the hill descent control eliminates the jerky stops and starts so the driver can go straight down the grade.
The 375-horsepower engine produces 375 foot-pounds of torque, starting at 3500 rpm. Making peak torque available at such low engine speeds gives the Range Rover excellent acceleration in the critical 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range. The car’s 7.2-second Zero-to-sixty time is nothing to sneeze at either, considering a curb weight just short of 6,000 pounds.
Direct injection gives the engine its superior throttle response. By injecting the gasoline directly into the engine cylinders rather than through the valves, engineers reduce the amount of unburned fuel, decreasing emissions and enhancing fuel economy.
The six-speed automatic transmission is well matched to the engine, transitioning cleanly through the gears. Drivers can opt for manual gear selection, enhancing vehicle control off-road.
A speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering system provides plenty of assist at low speeds for maneuvering through parking lots while maintaining positive on-center response on the highway. A turning radius of 37.8 feet is pretty good, considering the Range Rover’s 108-inch wheelbase.
The standard air suspension smoothes out bumps in the road and enables the driver to control vehicle height according to driving conditions. On paved roads, the suspension maintains 6.8 inches of ground clearance: plenty to clear the occasional snow bank while maintaining decent aerodynamics.
Off-road, the driver can raise the vehicle to 8.9-inches of ground clearance in order to avoid rocks, roots and other obstacles. The Range Rover is engineered to wade through 27.6-inches of water without damaging the engine or other chassis components.
Nineteen-inch wheels and tires provide an ample footprint for the car. I was disappointed to find a temporary spare tire in lieu of a full-sized one. Anybody who plans to take their vehicle on serious off-road trails should have a full-sized spare tire in reserve. Those individuals might also consider swapping the all-season radials for specialized off-road tires.
Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel antilock braking stop the Range Rover in firm, linear fashion.
Seating for five passengers
The Range Rover seats up to five adults. Second-row seats are slightly higher than those in front to give the back passengers a better forward view. Both front seats and outboard second-row seats have seat heaters to keep passengers comfortable in temperature extremes.
Land Rover’s three-stage seat heaters are the best I’ve experienced in any car. They work so well that I consider them an alternative form of physical therapy.
I found the driver’s seat comfortable for my two-hour test drive, with ample lower lumbar support. Both the center display screen and gauge cluster are easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions.
A digital display in the gauge cluster shows odometer and trip meter readings, ambient temperature and service warnings. Drivers can use the display to program in speed warnings, side mirror dips when the driver shifts into reverse, drive away locking and two-stage unlocking.
A two-piece glovebox adds storage around the passenger compartment, although neither glovebox locks. The center console includes a cooling bin for beverages and a shallow tray for change and portable electronic devices. Vents behind the center console circulate air through the back of the cabin.
Folding the second-row seats flat is a chore. It requires flipping the seat bottoms forward and removing the seatback headrests. With the second-row seats folded flat, the Range Rover can easily hold road bikes with the front wheels removed. A privacy cover keeps items stored in the cargo area from prying eyes. The jack is stowed under the cargo floor.
The Range Rover Sport comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, dynamic stability and traction control. An automatic protection system shuts off the fuel in the event of a collision. The system also activates the hazard warnings, turns on the interior lights and unlocks the doors.
The Range Rover comes with complimentary scheduled maintenance for the first 15,000 miles.
Land Rover builds the Range rover Sport at its Solihull, UK assembly plant.
Likes: A high-luxury sport-utility vehicle with exceptional on and off-road performance. The naturally-aspirated V-8 engine has excellent throttle response, while Land Rover’s terrain response system makes it easy to navigate off-road trails.
Dislikes: Folding the second-row seats flat is a three-stage operation. The Range Rover comes with a temporary spare rather than a full-sized tire.
Make: Land Rover
Model: Range Rover HSE Sport
Base price: $59,645
As tested: $88,495
Horsepower: 375 Hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 350 lbs.-ft. @ 3500 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 7.2 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 13/18 mpg city/highway
Comments: The manufacturer recommends the use of premium fuel.
One response to “2011 Range Rover Sport HSE”
Richard Chansa Musonda December 19th, 2010 at 03:32
Immaculate, and Fine in the 21st Century.
Centrafrique Agriculture (Pty) Ltd.
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