Land Rover needs little introduction to the luxury-shopping community. The famed British company owns nearly exclusive rights to the top of the luxury SUV mountain—at least for those with their eyes set below the two-hundred-thousand-and-up club dominated by Rolls-Royce and Bentley. The flagship, full-size Range Rover remains Land Rover’s crown jewel. However, the smaller Range Rover Sport model remains the best-selling Land Rover in the United States.
Plenty of Power, Plenty of Posh
Like most vehicles in the Land Rover stable, the Range Rover Sport comes in a wide variety of trims. And before we start talking about “value,” it’s worth noting: All Land Rovers are expensive. At the bottom of the totem pole lives the SE, with prices starting at $68,650. There’s the HSE above that, starting at $74,250, and the fire-breathing SVR at the top of the pile, coming in at $114,500. Shoppers can choose among a range of engines—gasoline, diesel, and hybrid plug-in—although 4WD comes standard (this is a Land Rover, after all).
Tucked away in the upper-middle section of the lineup lives the HST trim. Fitted with a spruced-up version of Land Rover’s homegrown Ingenium inline 6-cylinder engine, the HST delivers 395 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. Land Rover augments that power with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system designed to save gas and pump fewer emissions into the atmosphere. Starting price? A Goldilocks $82,950.
The HST clearly delivers the goods under the hood. Maybe it manages that a bit less excitingly than an SVR, but it certainly does it with more decorum. Inside the cabin, it’s all Range Rover, too. Red leather upholstery covers the dash, and interspersed black swaths add a racy flavor that will almost certainly appeal to Land Rover’s celebrity customers.
A premium Meridian sound system delivers crisp sound, and your tunes are easily managed whether you opt to use Land Rover’s infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, or Android Auto. The dual-screen setup in the Range Rover Sport takes barely a minute to learn, and after a week of driving, we thoroughly preferred it to many competitors’ single-screen designs. In particular, it was nice being able to use Android Auto’s Google Maps feature on the top screen while still managing our Spotify choices on the lower screen.
Despite Land Rover’s reputation for technological troubles, our test car never faltered. The only annoyance came from Land Rover’s perplexing Adaptive Speed Limited. Rather than working like traditional cruise control, the default setting pegs the car at the posted speed limit. You can ask it to keep the speed a few miles per hour faster or slower than the road signs request, but it requires an extra step.
A Bull in a China Shop
Despite its cultured cabin, there’s no getting around the Range Rover Sport’s size. While it doesn’t look particularly enormous sitting in a driveway, it feels positively massive on the road. Driving next to an Audi Q5, we found ourselves looking over and thinking, “What are they doing all the way down there?” Adjusting the Sport’s ride height to off-road mode only adds to this feeling.
Further, the Range Rover Sport has a nearly inexcusably large turning radius. Yes, we know we’re talking about a genuine, off-road capable SUV here. But at more than 20 feet, it’s significantly wider than a Toyota 4Runner’s. It was exhausting to wrangle this car through the narrow streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts. You’d think an iconic British brand would know the merits of a nimble steering rack.
Regardless, the Land Rover badge still stands for something. Namely: luxury and capability. The Range Rover Sport’s HST trim fulfills those requirements at a (by Land Rover standards) reasonable price. Choose your options judiciously, and an HST can deliver everything you want out of a luxury SUV.
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