NY Auto Show: Lighter and More Efficient 2014 Range Rover Sport

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The Land Rover. Highly luxurious, overly capable, yet gas-guzzling, and somewhat unreliable. It seems as if the very concept of this recognizable SUV is something of the past in a world of downsizing and turbocharging. Land Rover group clearly got the message with the launch of the new Range Rover late last year, sporting an all-aluminum unibody frame that shaved nearly 700 pounds off its curb weight. Yet the automaker left the world confused when they failed to announce plans for their most popular model, the smaller Range Rover Sport. We could only wonder if the modern improvements would be reserved exclusively for the flagship Range Rover.

However, as Daniel Craig helped launch the all-new 2014 Range Rover Sport this week in New York, we found otherwise.

Powertrain

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Historically known for inefficient vehicles, Land Rover completely revamped the engine choices for the newest Range Rover Sport. Out is the base, Jaguar-sourced 5.0-liter V8 rated at 375 horsepower (and 13 mpg city)!  In is a supercharged V6 pumping out a hefty 340 horsepower, though the 510-horsepower V8 is still available in Supercharged and Autobiography trim levels. Land Rover estimates that despite decreased power, the new Sport will make a 0-60 sprint in 6.9 seconds, 0.3 seconds quicker than the previous model. In pace with its bigger brother, the Range Rover, this newest Sport also adds an 8-speed ZF automatic and an engine start-stop function that shuts the motor off at stoplights. Add all of this to an 800-pound weight reduction over the current Range Rover Sport, thanks again to all-aluminum construction, and this new luxury off-roader should see some respectable fuel economy numbers in the real world.

Land Rover was careful, however, to ensure that none of these drastic changes affected the legendary off-road performance the Sport. The Range Rover’s Terrain Response 2 System also makes an appearance in this model, sporting the super-convenient “Automatic” terrain setting that judges road conditions and adjusts power delivery accordingly. Drastically improved over the last model, each wheel now can handle over 20 degrees of articulation for the rockiest of conditions.

Interior and Exterior Design

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Now wearing an interior very similar to that current Range Rover’s, the outdated and cheap-feeling materials of last generation’s Sport are long gone. The wonderful buttonless Nav system from the Range Rover carries over to its little brother, and soft-touch materials abound. Beautifully polished wood accents replace the fake orange trim from the previous generation, and pieces of real metal are visible all throughout the cabin. What might be the most radical addition is a new 5+2 seating option, giving the new Range Rover Sport two more usable seats at the touch of a button.

An interesting fusion of the Evoque’s rear end with the new Range Rover’s front dimensions, the styling on this new Sport isn’t easily ignored. Low, sleek, and sporty lines belie the SUV’s immense toughness while side air scoops and a familiar grille design pay homage to the previous generation. The Range Rover’s dazzling wraparound LED daytime running lights now come standard on the new Sport, vastly improving the car’s on-road appearance. To add even more personalization, the newest Range Rover is available in 19 exterior colors and offers wheel options ranging in size from 19-22″, with 19″ multi-spokes standard.

The Bottom Line

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The redesigned Range Rover Sport comes at a perfect time for Land Rover. Their overhaul of the entire lineup of ¬†inefficient, heavy Rovers of five years ago shows their tremendous awareness of customer opinions, the key to the success of any modern auto company. The new Sport offers all of the good of the Land Rover’s history with virtually none of the bad, and it’s more than likely that the world market will recognize this very soon. British luxury doesn’t come cheap, however; the base HSE Sport with the Supercharged V6 will set you back over $63,000, while the top-of-the-line Autobiography surpasses $90,000. Expect sales to begin late this year for the American market.

Check out this TFLcar fun and informative video review of the new 2013 Range Rover: