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2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/4/2017

Con: Third-row seat's just for kids; unimpressive fuel economy; modest cargo capacity.

Interior: Land Rover made sure to spruce up the Range Rover Sport's interior for the current generation, though some might miss the previous generation's power-actuated dial-type gear selector -- now you're stuck with a conventional lever. Still, the rakish dashboard, top-notch materials and attractive wood and metal inlays add up to one of the nicest cabins in the segment. You don't sit as high in the Sport as in other Land Rover products, but that's by design; this is the athletic one, remember, so a snug, cockpit-like feel is the desired effect. Happily, visibility remains excellent, with plenty of glass all around.

The standard 8-inch touchscreen seems a little dated compared to some rival systems, with relatively simple graphics and occasionally slow response times. On the bright side, it's pretty easy to use. A nice addition for 2015 is the InControl Apps system, which integrates Apple and Android smartphones in such a way that certain apps look the same on the touchscreen as they do on your device.

Seat comfort is excellent in front, and the SVR's sport seats take lateral support to a new level. The rear outboard seats are fully adult-friendly, though the middle position, as usual, is only suitable for smaller occupants. As for the third row, Land Rover says it's specifically designed for children, and they're not kidding -- it's pretty tight back there. But the standard power-folding feature is great, allowing you to fold the seats flat or raise them into place at the touch of a button.

If we calculated cargo capacity per pound, the massive Range Rover Sport would certainly be one of the lowest-ranked SUVs. With 27.7 cubic feet of space behind the second row and a maximum of 62.2 cubes with the second-row seatbacks folded, it holds less stuff than most compact crossovers. More importantly, though, it's neck-and-neck with the rival Cayenne.

Body: The 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is a midsize luxury SUV offered in seven trim levels: SE, HSE, HSE Limited, Supercharged, Supercharged Limited, Autobiography and SVR. Two-row seating is standard, with a two-passenger, power-folding third row optional on the SE, HSE and Supercharged.

Standard features on the SE trim include 19-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, LED running lights, LED taillights, power-folding heated mirrors, a self-leveling air suspension, front and rear parking sensors, a power liftgate, rear privacy glass and keyless ignition and entry. Inside you'll find ambient interior lighting, leather upholstery, 14-way power front seats, driver memory settings, a power-adjustable steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone climate control and 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks. Also standard are a navigation system, voice controls, an 8-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth (phone and streaming audio) and an eight-speaker sound system with satellite and HD radio and USB/iPod connectivity.

The HSE adds 20-inch wheels, foglights, a panoramic sunroof, perforated leather upholstery, heated front seats and upgraded interior trim. The Supercharged trim level includes a V8 engine, a more sophisticated four-wheel-drive system (with low-range gearing and handling-enhancing torque vectoring), adaptive terrain-sensing drive settings ("Terrain Response 2"), adaptive suspension dampers, roll stabilization and steering-wheel paddle shifters.

The Autobiography steps up to 21-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, various other exterior styling enhancements, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, 16-way power front seats, ventilated front seats, driver memory settings, extended leather trim, a heated steering wheel, a virtual instrument cluster, a front console cooler box, heated rear seats, tri-zone climate control, a surround-view camera system, a blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and a 19-speaker Meridian sound system.

The high-performance SVR provides most of the Autobiography's features, adding or substituting an amped-up version of the V8, SVR-specific 21-inch wheels and bumpers, sport-tuned suspension and steering, sportier transmission programming, special interior exterior styling and trim details, front sport seats and rear sport seats.

Many of the higher trims' standard features are available on lower trims. The Extra Duty package, offered on the SE and HSE, adds the upgraded four-wheel-drive system, Terrain Response 2 and adaptive suspension dampers. The Climate Comfort and Visibility package for the SE bundles the adaptive headlights, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, foglights, heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats and blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. The Front Climate Comfort and Visibility package for the HSE and Supercharged is a more elaborate version that adds 16-way-adjustable power heated front seats and the front console cooler box. The Autobiography's 19-speaker Meridian audio system is available on all of these trims as well, and when specified as an option it comes with InControl Apps.

Bundling some of those options together are the HSE Limited and Supercharged Limited trim levels. The HSE Limited includes the HSE's standard equipment, the contents of the Front Climate Comfort and Visibility package, the 19-speaker sound system, Range Rover InControl Apps, specialized white exterior paint, 21-inch wheels, high-gloss black exterior trim (front grille, foglamp bezels, hood and fender vents), a black roof, distinct leather upholstery and stainless steel pedals.

The Supercharged Limited bundles the standard Supercharged equipment with 22-inch wheels, satin-black exterior trim, tinted headlights and taillights, the contents of the Luxury Climate Comfort and Visibility package, the Dynamic package (Brembo brakes, stainless steel pedals, virtual instrument cluster), the 19-speaker sound system and the InControl Apps.

The Supercharged, Autobiography and SVR trims are additionally eligible for a 23-speaker Meridian surround-sound system that's also bundled with InControl Apps. The Autobiography can add quad-zone climate control and ventilated rear seats via the Climate Comfort package, while the HSE and Supercharged can add those items via the Luxury Climate Comfort and Visibility package.

Optional on all trims other than the HSE Limited and Supercharged Limited is a Driver Assistance package that adds a lane-departure warning system, a self-parking system (with both parallel and perpendicular capability, plus automatic space exit) and 360-degree parking sensors.

Stand-alone options include 22-inch wheels, adaptive cruise control with automatic emergency braking, InControl Apps, a Tow package (with a full-size spare tire in two-row models) and a rear-seat entertainment system.

Driving: It's hard to believe that such a heavy, high-riding crossover can handle this well. The 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport powers down twisty roads with impressive confidence and stability. Is it as sharp as the Cayenne? No, not quite, unless perhaps you're talking about the SVR. But it's certainly close enough to be a blast through the turns. The "Sport" in this Land Rover's name is not misplaced.

In normal driving, the standard air suspension takes the edge off almost any surface. Road and tire noise are appropriately low for this price bracket. We wouldn't mind a little more get-up-and-go from the base V6, but the V8s are downright thrilling when you give them the spurs. Away from civilization, the Range Rover Sport continues to impress -- it may not be as capable on tough trails as the regular Range Rover, but it should be enough for the occasional foray into the woods.

What’s New: A high-performance SVR model joins the fold for 2015, as do the new HSE Limited and Supercharged Limited trim levels. Land Rover's InControl smartphone app integration is also new this year. The new Driver Assistance package includes a lane-departure warning system and 360-degree parking sensors. Minor trim changes include standard satellite and HD radio across the lineup.

The 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is available with one of three supercharged engines. Standard on the SE and HSE is a 3.0-liter V6 rated at 340 hp and 332 pound-feet of torque. The Supercharged and Autobiography come with a 5.0-liter V8 that pumps out 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque. The SVR gets a tweaked version of that V8 that's good for 550 hp and 502 lb-ft. All three engines utilize the same eight-speed automatic transmission, though the SVR is treated to sportier programming.

All Range Rover Sport models are also equipped with full-time four-wheel drive, hill descent control and hill start assist. The SE and HSE come standard with a light-duty, single-speed 4WD system, while the Supercharged model is equipped with a two-speed transfer case (optional on SE and HSE) that provides high- and low-range gearing for more serious off-roading. The standard Terrain Response system features driver-selectable modes that optimize the vehicle's powertrain, suspension and electronics for increased traction on various surfaces, while the available Terrain Response 2 variant (bundled with the two-speed transfer case) includes an additional adaptive mode that automatically optimizes settings while you drive.

At the Edmunds test track, a Range Rover Sport Supercharged sprinted from zero to 60 in a blistering 4.6 seconds, so the stronger SVR will likely beat Land Rover's 4.5-second estimate. As for the V6, it needs 6.9 seconds to do the deed: an indifferent time by segment standards.

EPA fuel economy estimates for the V6 version are 19 mpg combined (17 city/23 highway), which is somewhat disappointing given that Porsche's 420-hp Cayenne S gets 20 mpg combined. The Range Rover Sport's standard V8 is rated at 16 mpg combined (14 city/19 highway), a predictably inefficient result for a 510-hp truck that tipped our scales at 5,470 pounds in Supercharged trim. Expect a bit worse from the SVR.

All Range Rover Sports except the SVR can tow up to 7,716 pounds; the latter drops to a still-respectable 6,600 pounds.

Safety: The 2015 Range Rover Sport comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags, and first- and second-row side curtain airbags. Also standard are front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.

Available safety equipment includes adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera system, a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-departure warning. The nifty self-parking system handles both parallel and perpendicular jobs, and its automatic space exit feature ensures that you won't pull out in front of passing traffic or nudge the parked cars around you. The optional adaptive cruise control system includes an emergency braking feature ("Intelligent Emergency Braking") that automatically applies the brakes if a collision appears imminent.

In Edmunds brake testing, a Range Rover Sport Supercharged came to a stop from 60 mph in 124 feet, which is about average for this class, but underwhelming given the model's sporting pretensions.

Pro: Astounding handling; powerful supercharged V8; available seven-passenger seating; true off-road capability.

Edmunds Say: Stylish, athletic and luxurious, and with an optional third-row seat to boot, the 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is a well-rounded premium SUV.

Introduction: Can a nearly 5,500-pound crossover double as a legitimate performance car? If we weren't familiar with the 2015 Land Rover Range Rover Sport, we'd answer with a chuckle. But the Edmunds "A" rated Range Rover Sport is a game-changer among heavyweight SUVs with its confident handling and blazing V8-powered acceleration. If you're drawn to the versatility and luxury of a Land Rover but prefer the dynamics of a sport sedan, the Range Rover Sport occupies a very intriguing middle ground.

For 2015, the Sport gets even more enticing thanks to the new SVR trim, which flaunts a pumped-up version of the standard supercharged V8 engine that's good for 550 horsepower. It's not just about straight-line speed, either; seemingly every suspension and driveline component is sport-tuned in some way, from the suspension to the transmission and even the steering. "Eh, they all say that," you're thinking, but now hear this -- the SVR clocked a lap time of 8 minutes and 14 seconds at the Nürburgring. Incredibly, that's quicker than a lot of performance cars, including the old BMW 1 Series M. You've got to tip your cap to the Land Rover engineers; it's a monumental achievement.

Of course, what makes it so amazing is that the Range Rover Sport is such a heavy vehicle in the first place. There's another luxury crossover out there called the 2015 Porsche Cayenne that only weighs about 4,500-4,800 pounds, and subjectively, at least, it handles even better than the Land Rover. The Cayenne also offers fuel-efficient diesel and plug-in hybrid variants that easily surpass the base Range Rover Sport V6's fuel economy. (Fuel economy will likely be better for the 2016 Range Rover Sport, though, with the introduction of an optional V6 diesel powertrain to choose from as well.) The 2015 BMW X5 is nearly as well stocked in the powertrain department, and it matches the Range Rover Sport with an available third-row seat. If you don't truly desire racetrack-worthy handling, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz M-Class is a masterful, if somewhat staid, alternative.

High-end Land Rovers have a panache that's hard to match, and the new trim levels only add to the Sport's appeal. So what if it's heavy and thirsty? The 2015 Range Rover Sport is still one of the most rewarding crossovers on the road.

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