The Supercharged Range Rover Sport

It seems every week there is a new SUV added to the automotive market, but only a few are easily recognized. And on the high end, the Range Rover, with its squarest good looks, is easy to spot.

Now with multiple models with prices from the mid-thirties to the eighties, the Rover line offers lots of choices.

The middle child of the family and introduced in 2006 is the Range Rover Sport, a somewhat smaller Range Rover with a choice of two big power plants.

By chopping off about 6 inches from the LR3 model wheelbase, lowering the roofline and increasing the rake of front windshield, the Sport presents a clean, yet aggressive, look.

In keeping with the sport theme, the engine packages are stout. On the HSE model, a 300 horsepower 4.4 liter V-8 is hooked up to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The latter can be shifted in a variety of ways — from standard “drive” mode, to a sport choice which holds the gears longer for better acceleration, to manually controlling each gear by moving the gearshift lever sequentially up or down.

For the power-hungry, a slightly smaller V-8 has a supercharger atop it to boost the horsepower rating to a hefty 390.

As one would expect from this “off-road ‘r’ us” manufacturer, all-wheel drive is standard. But the off-road capability does not stop there. With a knob on the center console, the driver can manipulate the drivetrain for the terrain from rocky to desert conditions. With its air suspension and by using a couple of buttons on the dash, the entire vehicle can be raised and lowered to fit the landscape. An added bonus is a large video screen in the center to the dash that graphically shows what the wheels and suspension are doing at any given moment.

But luxury is by no means left off the list. Leather seats with multiple memory controls, a voice controlled Bluetooth system, and a mini cold box in center console are standard or available.

Safety issues are handled with six airbags or side curtains, every type of anti-roll over and braking device, and a back-up warning system.

Rear seating is both roomy and well appointed. Atop the rear doors are earphone jacks and controls so the back seat occupants can choose their mode of entertainment. The 60/40 split rear seats are easily dropped for additional cargo hauling. Access to the medium-sized rear compartment is gained from the split liftgate.

In our Supercharged test model, silent but commanding power was instantly available. Zero to 60 time is reported to be in the seven-second arena. Shifting between gears in the drive mode was effortless and without any sense of the gear changes.

The nicely leather-covered medium bolstered front seats hold the driver and passenger in place. The Sports model’s lower roofline is somewhat deceiving because the driver has a commanding view of the road. Even with the giant 20-inch wheel/tire combo handling is completely competent. No matter what the road condition, the suspension can absorb it. The ride is compliant with no harshness and wallowing of any kind.

So for the true off-roader to the streets-only driver, the Range Rover Sport offers more than enough for both with some unique looks thrown in.