From the April 2022 issue of Car and Driver.
Chipotle—or, as my family calls it, “Taco Bell with Some Book Learnin'”—has a simple menu. There’s really only one dish, but the fast-food chain presents basic ingredients in so many ways that a veneer of individuality belies the uniformity. The same can be said about the Land Rover lineup, which puts the same filling in different wrappers. You want a six-cylinder all-wheel-drive SUV? There’s the Range Rover Velar, which looks like a smaller Range Rover Sport, which is a slightly smaller Range Rover, which is like a fancier Discovery, which is a more polished Defender. In this analogy, the Discovery Sport is a lifestyle bowl, and the Evoque is a quesadilla off the kids’ menu.
The Range Rover Sport forms a prominent part of the company’s SUV menu. The prior generation enjoyed a nine-year run in the dowry without aging, which is probably why Rover decided for the 2023 redesign to look much the same. The new Sport’s headlights are squintier, but the overall shape is so similar to the previous model that you have to park them side by side to figure out what’s changed. The main gift is the new power-operated flush door handles, which contribute to the sleek look and slippery 0.29 coefficient of drag.
The Sport is also slick to drive, even in the mildly optioned SE trim. At $90,145 as tested, this is about as cheap a Range Rover Sport as you can get. The base SE comes with a 355-hp variant of the electrically supercharged and turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that appears elsewhere in the lineup in various tunes and configurations (there’s a 395-hp flavor and a 434-hp plug-in hybrid ) ). And while the BMW and Jeep are wringing out over 500 horsepower from the same displacement, the straight-six’s output doesn’t impress at all, the engine is incredibly buttery and refined. Depress the throttle at low rpm, and the supercharger delivers an instantaneous boost, ramping up torque until the turbocharger blows up. You hear a brief high-pitched whine at throttle tip-in, but that’s the only clue to the supercharger’s existence.
The Range Rover Sport doesn’t exactly lolligag when you open the throttle, but neither does it hustle in the way you might expect based on its racy looks. The Sport hits 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and covers the quarter-mile in 14.3 seconds at 96 mph. Those numbers are good enough, but the Sport’s 5-to-60-mph time—7.1 seconds—is a better indicator of how it feels in real-world traffic than the 355 horsepower 5387-lb. is like a vehicle. , In this case, “Sport” implies a small (see Ford Bronco Sport, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport) rather than a sporting intent. At least the Sport SE offers good fuel economy, returning 25 mpg in our 75-mph highway test.
And it’s a comfortable place to send a few miles. Shift the eight-speed automatic to a tall gear and the straight six snoozing at low rpm, and you can be confident you’re driving an electric vehicle. It’s so smooth and that cool. In fact, at 70 mph, you’ll only hear 66 decibels of interior noise, rising to luxury-sedan levels of quietness. Some credit there goes to the active noise-cancellation system, which uses microphones in each wheel to sample sound booming off the road and then zeros it out, like you might with a giant pair of noise-canceling headphones. Riding in pairs. ,
Standard air springs and adaptive dampers further the luxurious, uncluttered impression, even with the 22-inch cloudhoppers fitted to our test car. No matter how battered the surface, the Range Rover Sport paves the road ahead with lightly toasted marshmallows. Switch to Dynamic mode, and the Pirelli Scorpion Zero all-season tires can generate 0.81 g of grip on the skidpad, but doing so also introduces head toss and a flinty ride motion. As with its powertrain, the Sport SE’s chassis is happiest when you’re not asking much of it. Which, let’s face it, is how most people use their cars most of the time.
Granted, the other trims will push the Sport’s numbers closer to the realm of legitimate performance SUVs. The Stormer Handling Package, unique to the $122,975 First Edition P530, brings active anti-roll bars and rear-wheel steering, and we’re sure the model’s BMW-sourced 523-hp V-8 makes for plenty of brisk acceleration.
But our test vehicle is about as close as you can get to the Range Rover Sport at its $84,475 base price. Options included 22-inch wheels ($1450), a full-size spare tire ($500), and the Cold Climate Package ($640), which heated the steering wheel, washer jets, and windshield. The heated steering wheel is available a la carte for $300 if you find the embedded filaments of heated windshields distracting, which some of us do. You can certainly pad out the options list with thousands of dollars in other add-ons, but the Sport is very well equipped in the first place. Without the buyer checking out any options, the SE includes front and rear heated leather seats, a Meridian sound system, a panoramic sunroof, and adaptive cruise control with lane-keeping assist.
Whether the generous standard equipment equals an interior that’s worth an $84,000 Range Rover is up for debate. When most surfaces are hard and shiny – glass, black wood veneer, aluminum – you end up with a cabin that shows every microbe of dust and smudged fingerprints. Other strange decisions: The USB-C port sits atop a sloped plastic tray behind the floating center console, so any phone placed there will soon be flying towards one footwell or the other and finding itself forcibly unplugged. There’s also an inductive charging pad below the touchscreen, but it doesn’t have a lip on the rear edge, so you face the same dilemma on a different axis. Punch the throttle, and your phone will be on a spelunking journey into the center console, which is roughly the size and depth of an elevator shaft as it shares real estate between the seats with another storage area hidden beneath the cupholders. And why would you need hidden storage under the cupholders? We’re law-abiding citizens, so we have no idea what you can put in there after a day trip from Ohio to Michigan.
The Range Rover Sport’s role in the lineup has always been clear: It’s like a full-size Range Rover but oriented more toward performance on pavement. This particular trim, however, stakes its appeal on the luxury of comfort it offers at its (relatively) affordable price. The Sport is the Range Rover for people who say “no problem” when informed that guacamole will be an extra $2.65. Is it really making a difference to your bottom line? Probably not, but you have to draw the line somewhere.
Model-pretty design and sleekly-furnished cabins make Range Rovers the trendiest fashionistas of their peer group. But beauty comes at a price, which, for the Range Rover Sport, is at the level of couture – whereas competitors from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and even Porsche are more like ready-to-wear. With options, our base-trim test example is over $90K. And to think, the Sport was once an attainable Range Rover. ,joe lorio
The new Range Rover Sport marks a progression for the Land Rover brand, so why continue to include those pointless flip-down armrests? Of all the legacy design features, these seem to be the most irrelevant. The cushy center console is already well positioned to rest your elbows, and these flimsy, narrow appendages only prevent easy access to the seatbelts. At the very least, Land Rover should give buyers an armrest-delete option on the spec sheet. ,drew dorian
2023 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SE P360
Vehicle Type: Front-Engine, All-Wheel-Drive, 5-Passenger, 4-Door Wagon
Base/as tested: $84,475/$90,145
Options: 22-inch wheels, $1450; Black Contrast Ceiling, $1000; Giola Green Paint, $710; Cold Climate Package, $640; LED headlights, $600; 22-inch full-size spare, $500; Natural Black Veneer Trim, $410; Wi-Fi with Data Plan, $360
Supercharged, Turbocharged & Intercooled, DOHC 24-Valve Inline-6, Aluminum Block & Heads, Direct Fuel Injection
Displacement: 183 in32996 cm3
Power: 355 HP @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 1750 rpm
Suspension, F/R: Multilink/Multilink
Brakes, F/R: 15.0-in Vented Disc/14.0-in Vented Disc
Tyres: Pirelli Scorpion Zero All-Season
285/45R-22 114Y M+S LR
Wheelbase: 118.0 Inches
Length: 194.7 inches
Width: 80.6 inches
Height: 71.7–74.2 inches
Passenger Volume, F/R: 55/50 ft3
Cargo Volume, Rear F/R: 66/32 ft3
Curb Weight: 5387 lb
CD Exam Results
60 mph: 5.7 seconds
1/4-mile: 14.3 sec @ 96 mph
100 mph: 15.7 seconds
130 mph: 33.2 seconds
The above results leave a 1-ft rollout of 0.3 seconds.
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 7.1 seconds
Top gear, 30-50 mph: 3.9 seconds
Top gear, 50-70 mph: 4.5 seconds
Top speed (MFR claimed): 140 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 187 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft skidpad: 0.81 g
CD fuel economy
Seen: 16 mpg
75-mph highway driving: 25 mpg
75-mph Highway Range: 590 Miles
EPA Fuel Economy
Combined/City/Highway: 22/19/26 mpg
CD test explained
Ezra Dyer is a car and driver Senior editor and columnist. He is now based in North Carolina but still remembers how to turn right. He owns a 2009 GEM e4 and once went 206 mph. Those facts are mutually exclusive.