I talk about Range Rovers on the Car Pro radio show fairly often, especially since I have personally owned more of them than I can count. I think the number is around a dozen or so. I got another new one this year and for the first time, I went from the largest model, the HSE, to the Range Rover Sport.
This week, I am behind the wheel of a different Rover Sport, this one is the top-of-the-line Autobiography Edition.
The Rover Sport went through a big transformation in 2014. It shed 800-pounds by going to an all-aluminum body. Also in 2014, a 6-cylinder supercharged engine replaced the naturally-aspirated V8, and an 8-speed transmission replaced the 6-speed. The body and interior underwent big changes as well. The end result of the changes produced the most refined and best Range Rover Sport ever.
My review vehicle has the same engine as the one I own, which is the 510-horse, 5.0-liter Supercharged V8. You can also get a V6 diesel, which I reviewed earlier this year and it is posted on our website.
The 8-speed and the supercharger together provide amazing acceleration, especially considering it weighs over 5100 pounds. This beast will tow over 7700 pounds. When I got my Sport, the first thing I noticed was the great sound coming from the dual exhaust, it sounds terrific.
Range Rovers are known for several things…an exceptional interior, an incredible full-time 4-wheel drive system, and safety.
Like all Range Rovers, the interior of the Sport is exceptional, but the Autobiography edition takes it to another level. My test vehicle surprised me a little when I opened the door, and everything I saw was mostly red with black accents. I have to say, although I haven’t been in anything with a red interior in a long time, it is growing on me.
The seats are extremely comfortable and the leather trim is soft to the touch. You will not detect any plastic anywhere. Clean is the best way to describe the look of the dash; it is simplistic and uncomplicated.
There is a Driver Information Center located in the gauge cluster, and it allows you to configure all the performance and safety systems on the vehicle.
Prominent on the dash is the touchscreen that operates all your audio controls, navigation system that is voice activated, climate controls, your phone, Bluetooth, surround view camera system, and much more. The screen is easily reachable by the driver and passenger.
The re-do of the Sport in 2014 yielded more back seat room, and now you can get a third row seat in it, but I assure you, it is only for children. The back seat has an awesome fold down center console that makes the Rover Sport really comfortable for 4 adults of any size.
There are no options on the Autobiography I am reviewing. It comes nicely equipped with 16-way power front seats, power tailgate with hands-free opening, pushbutton start, rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, dual panoramic moon roof, power tilt wheel, and an 825-watt Meridian sound system.
You also get the towing package, an ebony headliner, 21” alloy wheels, blind spot monitoring, heated and cooled seats, lane departure warning, heads-up display, and it will even park itself.
A cool feature you’ll love is you can download the In Control app to provide information on your vehicle and enables you to interact with it remotely with most smartphones. This service allows you to lock or unlock the doors, remotely preheat or precool the vehicle using the climate control function and remote engine start, or find your Land Rover faster by using the Beep and Flash feature.
It also has the very annoying stop/start system, but luckily it can be deactivated with the push of a button.
As part of the full-time four-wheel drive, you get Rover’s famous Terrain Response System. To use the Terrain Response System, you turn a knob on the center console to choose between general mode, snow, mud, sand, and dynamic. For each setting, Terrain Response adjusts the aforementioned components to perform best for each driving condition. It is awesome. Or you can just keep it on auto and the Rover will adjust itself.
You have to experience the four-wheel drive system at a Land Rover dealership to understand what the system will do. You can move the vehicle 11” with the push of a button and it will rise even higher if the vehicle senses you need more clearance. It also lowers itself when you put it in park to make entry and exit easier. It is my opinion that it is the best four-wheel drive system in the auto industry.
Two things of note: I am not crazy about the gear shifter on this 2016 model. Reverse is up, and even though I own one, I still find it hard to get the vehicle into drive. Second, this is one of the few vehicles I have driven in a couple of years with a full-sized spare!
The Range Rover Sport is the best selling Land Rover made in the United States, and given the price versus the larger HSE, it is easy to see why.
It is rated at 14 miles per gallon in town and 19 on the highway, but trust me, you don’t buy this SUV for the fuel economy.
The Sport is a true joy to drive and it handles great. Given the competition in the large, luxury SUV segment, it is a good buy with an MSRP of just over $94,000, especially considering the horsepower and the fact that this is a super enjoyable daily driver and an extremely capable off-roader.