I just spent a few weeks with the amazingly capable Range Rover Sport.
Wow. Just wow.
For this latest vehicle Fields Group in Waukesha offered me for review, it took me about one day to go from ambivalent to adoring of this beast. Just like the Range Rover Evoque before it, it may not be love at first sight, but it doesn’t take long to appreciate what the Sport brings to the table.
At first it felt huge and hulking, but I quickly became acclimated to this incredibly powerful, luxury vehicle. In fact, I hated to give it back.
While I really liked the Evoque, the Sport is, in many ways, its opposite. Yes, you’ll see similar acceleration, but at twice the weight. The Evoque is styled like a concept car; the Sport is fitting of the British Secret Service.
The biggest similarity, really, is how both cars chew up snow and spit it out. I claimed the Evoque was the best car I’ve ever driven in the snow, but that was before I drove the Sport.
This is a serious SUV for serious drivers, and it comes with a serious price tag. While the base can be had for $60,045, the car I spent three weeks with checked in at $67,595 – the premium wood, audio and luxury interior pack increase the MSRP. That’s a lot of money. But check out these numbers:
The Range Rover Sport boasts a 5.0 liter 375 horsepower naturally-aspirated V8 engine that growls. It produces a balanced 375 foot pounds of torque. It can tow 7,716 pounds and offers 71 cubic feet of space when the back seats are folded flat. With its "command" seating, you ride very high. And, for a truck of this size, it doesn’t perform horribly in terms of mileage, either. With an estimated 13 MPG city and 18 highway, I averaged 15.1 MPG in mixed driving over the span of about 500 miles. All this for a truck that can drive through 27.5 inches of water – up to the top of its tires.
Depending on what demographic you fit in, you’ll either like or love the interior. I fall into the "like" category, since the 2013 Range Rover Sport hasn’t received the Evoque’s interior makeover yet. That means a smaller touch screen and more buttons that, two years ago, would’ve seemed cutting edge. Now, they’re a little more conservative – as is this entire leather-wrapped SUV – which makes sense because most owners are several years older than me.
Still, the Sport is loaded with technology, but not in an in-your-face sort of way. Its intuitive parking assist tool makes it a breeze to guide this 6,700 pound boat into tight fits (like my garage). You can toggle the drive mode for your terrain – remember that Range Rover serves a global audience – and during this winter’s only hint of a blizzard, it ate the snow for breakfast.
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make this car lose its footing.
A lot of the other bells and whistles from the Evoque are present here, too. The little things matter so much to me, like the tiny heated coils in the front windshield that defrost quickly. Or the extremely accurate voice recognition. Or the suspension that can lower substantially to make it easier for kids or shorter adults to climb in and out. This you have to see to believe.
Standard features include pretty much power everything, GPS, Bluetooth audio streaming, power tailgate, a 380 watt 11 speaker audio system (this car was upgraded to 825 thumping watts) and much more. The base version of this truck is more decked out than most luxury vehicles when loaded.
The only hiccup in my experience had an unexpected silver lining. On the last few days of my evaluation, the driver’s side windows and electronic seat position stopped working. Yes, this car had maybe 2,000 miles on it, and no, one doesn’t expect a blown fuse or whatever felled its electrical system (as the owner of a ’75 MGB, I had to laugh about the misunderstood stereotypes of British electrical systems), but every car in the world can encounter a fault.
But here’s the positive: the dealership bent over backwards to remedy the problem. They offered to send one of the salespeople or even the manager over to pick up my car at work – all the way from Waukesha – and take the Sport back. They planned to send me another car while they worked on this one.
And this is after they dropped off, at my office, the garage door opener that I left in the Evoque. Lest you think I got special treatment for this evaluation, I can assure you that I did not. Every day, Fields services its customers like it’s a relationship. When they are selling cars this expensive, they have to. I’ve bought several relatively nice cars before at dealers I won’t mention here, but I’ve never seen an approach like this.
To be more concise, even though I tell every dealership that has asked me to review a car that my evaluation will be honest, Fields had little to worry about this time around. The Range Rover Sport and the entire experience of working with this dealer have been top-shelf.
As far as I'm concerned, the Range Rover Sport is one year away from being the most refined, sophisticated and competent full-sized SUV on the market. When the Evoque’s ergonomics make their way to this truck, look out. Maybe the BMW X5 is close, but nothing on the road in this class looks better. And while I haven’t driven every SUV on the road, I’d be surprised if any of them drive better, either.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published Sept. 20, 2014
I've had a full day now to play with the brand new iPhone 6. Like most pieces of new technology, it's a mixed bag. iPhones aren't new to me - I've owned every one but the first model, and I use mine nonstop as both a work and personal device. This model is different in many ways, but as usual, the biggest story here is the software, not the hardware.
Published Sept. 16, 2014
Entering play tonight, the Brewers are 1.5 games out of the playoff picture. Right now, all of Milwaukee should be very excited about the Brewers, starting with me. Yet, for some reason, we're not.
Published Sept. 1, 2014
If OnMilwaukee.com was a child - and it many ways it feels like one to me - Milwaukee's Daily Magazine would be getting its driver's license today. It would be a junior in high school. Hopefully listening to the Violent Femmes and not Justin Bieber.
Published Aug. 27, 2014
Back in June, I wrote about the five summer kids trips I couldn't wait to take. Well, summer got busy, and despite my best intentions, I only made it to one of my top five suggestions. But that's not to say I was a deadbeat dad this season. My almost-6-year-old and I had lots of fun this summer, and in fact, we found a few other places to visit as the calendar inched closer to the return of school. All three were just within an hour from home.
Published Aug. 19, 2014
I recently interviewed a former boss, a courageous woman who once hired me as an intern. She's now affiliated with the Milwaukee Masterpiece, a high-end car show. Meet Bev Jurkowski, my mentor, and the woman crazy enough to ask me to be a "celebrity judge" this weekend at the show.
Published Aug. 19, 2014
Chicago native Molly Fay didn't expect to host a talk show. But the former investigative journalist, mother of three and self-described introvert, found herself doing just that eight years ago when WTMJ-4 launched "The Morning Blend," and she hasn't looked back. We caught up with Fay over coffee last week to discuss where she's been and where she's going. And why every person, even if their job seems mundane, has a story to tell.
Published Aug. 13, 2014
I quite enjoyed the "Garlicmeister" last time, but I'm pretty sure I'm now partial to their $9 "Baconmeister" meal. With 1/3 pound of Angus beef, topped with bourbon bacon, onion, lettuce, tomato and cheese (I opted for cheddar), it's the brioche bun that makes the difference to me. It comes with homemade chips or fries and a drink.
Published Aug. 12, 2014
I could pretty much eat falafel every day of my life and never get tired of it. The fried chickpea dish is close to the perfect vegetarian dish, and whether you claim it's Israeli or Arabic, it's one meal that everyone in the Middle East can agree is great.
Published Aug. 6, 2014
Last weekend, I talked my wife into joining me on my adventure - we hadn't visited Door County together since we first started dating in 2002. It turns out that showing off old favorites, discovering new memories and cultivating another Door County fan is a wonderful, relaxing way to experience this magical place. After all, even as a entirely different kind of trip, Door County remains my "happy place." Scoring points with the wife makes it even happier.
Published Aug. 5, 2014
This time around, Spacehog returns to Milwaukee in a larger venue, joining Everclear, Soul Asylum and Eve 6 in the Summerland Tour at State Fair Thursday night night. It's easy to call it a `90s band reunion - and it may be - but listen to Spacehog play, and then ask yourself if this is a band just cashing a paycheck. Pretty sure you'll come to the same conclusion I did. We caught up with Spacehog drummer Jonny Cragg from Denver, as his tour moves to the Midwest. He talked about life on the road and what's next for a band that did so much more in its four albums that just what you heard on the radio and saw on MTV.