2014 Range Rover Sport - Long-Term Report: Part 2 of 4

    How The Other Half Lives

    Christian HazelPhotographer, Writer

    Posh-rowdy. In a nutshell, that’s the best way to describe our 2013 Four Wheeler of the Year winner. The 2014 Range Rover Sport’s 510hp supercharged 5.0L V-8 is still a marvel. It’s smooth, refined, savage, economical, and flawless all at once. Matched with the eight-speed automatic and fast-actuating paddle shifters, it’s a combination that’s easy to fall in love with. The more miles we put on it, the more we’re convinced we’re not giving it back to Land Rover once our long-term testing is up. We’ll arm-wrestle ya for it, Land Rover!

    In our first long-term quarterly report (Sept. 2014), we had some gripes about perceived build quality and electrical glitches. Namely, the touch-screen interface in the dash for the infotainment system and seat heaters seemed to have worked only when they wanted to. We don’t know if the vehicle is finally becoming acceptant of having lowlifes such as us driving it, but lately those issues haven’t manifested themselves. Likewise, the interior rattles and squeaks we complained about (namely, the center console) have disappeared. That’s not to say the vehicle has been perfect. The interior grab handle above one of the rear seats came loose and partially fell off. Also, the driver-side rear exterior door handle developed a serious safety issue. The door handle would stick in the “open” position and not retract back into place to allow the door to latch. On more than one occasion, this allowed the door to fly open with the author’s four-year-old son in the seat. No warning lights or buzzers sounded until the door literally flew open going down the road. Way not cool. The dealer inspected the latch mechanism and said it was just dirty, so they cleaned and lubricated it. The issue hasn’t happened again since the “fix,” but if you’ve gotta worry about your door handles getting dirty, that’s not a huge feather in the cap of a brand that prides itself on its off-road heritage.

    When the doors aren’t flying open by themselves, the 2014 Range Rover Sport really makes you feel like you’re king of the mountain. Few vehicles can match its brutal acceleration from stoplights or on-ramps, and the full-time four-wheel-drive system and sticky Pirelli tires make it more than a match for any spikey-haired IT guy behind the wheel of a BMW or Audi.

    The steering is phenomenal, with a turning radius just this side of a Mini, and with an excellent back-up camera screen and audible parking sensors, any spot in a crowded lot is yours. Under way, the handling and steering control is razor-sharp. Confidence-inspiring just doesn’t begin to scratch the surface. You feel immortal in this thing. We still haven’t found the limits of the chassis, and because we don’t want to land in the pokey or harm the innocent, we likely never will on public roads. Maybe we’ll book some track time and see if we can wad it into the radishes.

    Durability-wise, after some initial creases and cracks, the white leather inside is wearing better than we thought it would, and despite our concerns, it’s easily cleaned with regular ol’ baby wipes. Baby wipes are magic, after all. The wheel spokes have suffered a bit of rock rash since they’re not dished, but we’ve yet to kill one of the relatively low-profile Pirelli Scorpions. It’s only a matter of time, though. One area in which we really have to give the Range Rover Sport props in the durability department is with the paint and aluminum body panels. Unlike some factory metallic finishes, the Range Rover Sport’s paintjob doesn’t have the same hardness as a stale graham cracker. It resists trail scratches and parking lot dings admirably. And unlike the paper-thin steel panels on many modern vehicles today, the aluminum panels are thick and sturdy enough to shrug off a fast, hard baseball strike by an all-star little leaguer. Don’t ask us how we know.

    One of the features we’ve come to rely on is the $1,295 adaptive cruise control option. Regular cruise is fine if you live in the middle of Kansas, but in congested SoCal, regular cruise control is all but useless. The adaptive cruise control allows you to set your desired speed and the Range Rover Sport will automatically haul itself down with the brakes to maintain a safe distance when the chucklehead on the cell phone invariably pulls right in front of you. Another option we never thought we’d fall for is the $3,545 Luxury Climate Comfort and Visibility Pack. This option gives you an honest-to-goodness fridge in the center console under the armrest. It’ll hold several 12-ounce beverages or (we suspect) a bottle of champagne. It is a Range Rover, after all. Also, the heated steering wheel and air-conditioned seats are surprisingly addictive. And yes, we’ve been guilty of using both at the same time.

    In the next quarter, we’ll touch on some towing and more off-roading. Desert season is upon us, after all.

    Options as tested

    Adaptive cruise control ($1,295), Santorini black contrast roof ($650), Dynamic Package - 21-inch wheels, TFT virtual display, red badges, aluminum gas and brake pedals, 155 mph top speed, special interior colors and piping, gloss black mirrors, sport textured aluminum trim ($2,500), ebony headliner ($350), Luxury Climate Comfort & Visibility Pack – heated and cooled front and rear seats, front cooler box, 16-way power seats, auto-dim exterior mirrors, adaptive headlights, heated windshield and steering wheel, four-zone climate control ($3,545), Meridian Premium Audio Pack: 825 watts, 19 speaker surround sound, satellite and HD radio ($2,000), rear seat entertainment ($1,800)

    2014 Range Rover Sport
    Report: 2 Of 4
    Previous reports: Sept. 2014
    Base price: $79,100
    Price as tested: $94,085
    Four-wheel-drive system: Full-time electronically controlled, two-speed
    Miles to date: 16,592
    Miles since last report: 3,611
    Average mpg (this report): 15.3
    Test best tank (mpg): 24.3 (highway between 70-75 mph)
    Test worst tank (mpg): 12.53 (off-road/in-town driving mix)
    This period: Oil and filter change, warranty repair on door latch and grab handle
    Problem areas: Driver-rear door latch sticking open; driver-rear interior grab handle loose
    Hot: Killer looks, insane power, comfort like nobody’s business
    Not: Minor brake squeak
    “Hot cougars in yoga pants STILL flock to this thing.”
    “Accelerating into traffic is like playing a video game - instantaneous.”
    “Lowering the suspension so Mom can get in easier - awesome!”
    “Getting used to 510 hp; needs about 100 more.”

    Related Articles