The 2014 Range Rover Sport is a bit of an enigma to me.
See one on the road and you instantly know it’s a luxury SUV. They’re all over Beverly Hills and any other upscale town. They look as good inside as they do outside. And they’re even more enjoyable to drive.
There’s just one problem. They’re not reliable.
Check out the 2014 JD Power Long-Term Vehicle Dependability Study and you’ll scroll a long way down before you find Land Rover (the parent company) listed. Third from the bottom to be exact with 179 problems for every 100 vehicles sold. That compares to Lexus which has the lowest number and leads all manufacturers with just 68 problems per 100 vehicles.
I guess the good news is that Range Rover is trending up. Last year (2013) it was dead last with 220 problems per hundred vehicles. In just a single year it blew past Dodge and Mini and knocked 41 problems off the list.
So why is a vehicle that undependable so popular with people who have money? The cynic in me would say that they can simply afford to fix the car and have enough money to buy an extra car for days when the Range Rover is in the shop.
But that’s not really it. They just think that the best parts of the Range Rover outweigh the bad parts.
I should start by saying that the 2014 Range Rover Sport has been totally redesigned. It’s much lighter than last year’s model which will help both handling and fuel mileage.
The styling is one of the Range Rover’s big advantages. While every other SUV manufacturer is sculpting curves, the Range Rover Sport is pretty boxy. But it’s boxy in a cool way. The edges are just rounded enough that it doesn’t look dated. In fact, it’s a pretty aggressive looking box. The front end is heavy-looking in a way that says this brute is ready to rumble. The belt line is straight, but angled upwards towards the back of the car that just looks faster. The back-end is has been pinched down just slightly to help reduce aerodynamic drag. The result is a great looking car.
It’s a great looking car with plenty of power. The supercharged 3.0 liter V6 delivers 340 horsepower. Anytime you get over 300 horsepower you reach the bonus range that just makes a car fun to drive. Coupled to an eight speed transmission, the motor gives you the feeling that you truly do own the road. Mileage is not spectacular. The V6 is rated at 17 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway. My test car averaged right in the middle at 20 mpg for the week. The Range Rover uses Stop/Start technology that turns off the engine when you come to a complete stop, and restarts when you take your foot off the brake. More and more cars are using it. Of course if you really don’t care about mileage and you want some serious mojo, opt for the 5.0 liter supercharged V8 that has 510 horsepower. It only gets 14 mpg in the city and 19 on the highway, but you’ll be having so much fun you won’t care.
Inside, the Range Rover Sport is all about comfort and luxury. In fact, this new version
is slightly nicer than the old model. The dash has only a single video display which helps keep it clean and simple. It can control just about everything, although there are also dials and knobs for the climate control system just below as a backup. The Range Rover Sport gets bonus points for having third row seating, but they’re pretty small so don’t count on carrying seven people cross-country.
About the only thing I wasn’t sure about in the interior was the mesh cloth right below the sun roof. It looks great and properly shades the bright sun to allow in just the right amount of light. But living in Phoenix, I worry that it’s still enough to turn the inside into a solar oven. On the bright side, it does have a cooled compartment between the front seats for keeping beverages cold on hot summer days.
These days cars have plenty of cool technology but the Range Rover Sport had something unique. It’s the Active Speed Limiter or ASL. If you’ve had one too many tickets and the next one will cost you your license, the ASL could be your hero. Set the upper range and the car will prevent you from speeding. Is it critical? Only for a selection few, but it’s just another example of automotive intelligence that is bringing us one step closer to robot cars every day.
You have your choice of SE and HSE trim. As with most models, spend more and you get more. Having said that, I actually liked the looks of the SE package better.
Base price of the Range Rover Sport starts at $63,525 for the SE. The HSE begins at 68,525. If you really want to get carried away you can get the Supercharged model beginning at $80,025 or the Autobiography for 93,325. I only wish my autobiography was worth that much. It’s a pretty heady price range for an SUV and just about any model will cost you more than the usual luxury competition (except for the Porsche Cayenne GTS).
So why spend that much money for a car with questionable reliability? Because its looks, it’s power and it’s comfort will beckon you like a siren’s call. You’ll tell yourself that the all new design will solve so many of the old problems and you may be right. But even if you’re not, you’ll still enjoy the ride, reliability bumps and all.