Range Rover Sport 2023 Proven Cool On-or Off-Road

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If Land Rover really wanted to impress us with the agility and capabilities of the redesigned Range Rover Sport 2023, the automaker would program navigation to do what we accidentally did. Having lost our way out at a roundabout outside Madrid, we ended up deep in a maze of increasingly narrow and winding Spanish country streets until we were squeezed through an alley and found ourselves blocked by Mitsubishi with a flat tire. Backing off the slippery rocks and managing to spin the Sport in a space nearly as wide as an Iberian ham highlights the Range Rover’s rear-wheel steering, multiple camera angles, and air cushion ride in a way all the off-road obstacles and canyon sweeps previously in the drive could only hint at.

The Range Rover Sport is a big monster, sharing the wheelbase and width with the Range Rover, only slightly shorter in length and lighter in price, the sporty folks seem to have less luggage and less cash. The cachet, however, provides in a hefty dose, with an upright profile but swept back and clean sides unblemished by flashy crests or exaggerated body lines. Discussing design on an SUV can be like picking a tile—it’s a brick, it’s a color—and the Sport is brick, but the carefree rear spoiler and square exhaust tip balance the pomp of the front end with the promise of energetic performance.

The most energetic performance comes from the Range Rover Sport P530 First Edition (starting price $122,975), which boasts a 523-hp 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine under its tall hood. The P530 growls and rips and grips, though a fair amount of its aural aggression is tuned for cockpit only. On the outside, it’s just a grunt. Calm perhaps, but there’s a lot of tugging, turning steep hills into barely perceptible bumps on the road and accelerating out of corners with serious enthusiasm. Range Rover says it will go from zero to 60 in 4.3 seconds. If anything, the 4.4 liter was overzealous at first, with a jittery throttle and loud upshifts, even in the most depressed Comfort mode. The P440e plug-in hybrid and the P400 SE and P360 SE with mild hybrid assist provide two cylinders and some horsepower but are smoother and easier on the wallet. By the end of 2023, all models will be available with the optional Stormer Handling Package which saves us from living the rest of our lives stuck in Spanish alleyways, but for the first year, only the P530 First Edition got the stuff, so we’ll concentrate on the V-8. , like the American way.

Land Rover strengthened the frame for this third-generation Range Rover Sport, and no matter what powerhouse you choose—including an all-electric setup for 2024—the Sport is equipped with dual-chamber air springs that tighten and soften automatically based on steering input, g-force. laterals, and even navigation information. It knows if you’re coming around a corner or have a long stretch of highway ahead. We never caught him off guard, and he overcame tough turns and gravel roads with little inclination or jumps. This kind of technology is often bragged about, without always delivering, but the Range Rover Sport is making for a formidable hot-rodded SUV trend. We found it quiet and smooth, even on the big 23-inch wheels. What the P530 gets that other trims don’t have (yet) is a combination of air suspension with a 48-volt electronic anti-roll system instead of a fixed anti-roll rod. It also offers torque vectoring, active rear differential and assistive all-wheel steering; the name Stormer Handling Pack refers to the 2004 Range Stormer concept which was the predecessor to the first generation Range Rover Sport.

When it comes to off-roading, the Range Rover Sport is capable and fun—though anyone planning on spending a lot of time on the ground should skip the matte white fabric interior that was on our ride. The Sport has several off-road modes that can be accessed via console buttons or on the center screen, and if there’s any complaint about the Sport’s off-pavement performance, it’s just making it too easy. What courage is there in straddling a boulder with barely a foot of ground clearance beneath you? Different modes adjust throttle response and how much wheel slip is allowed. Most off-road modes also allow rear-wheel steering to remain at an angle when the vehicle is stopped to allow for easier restarts on hills or gentle terrain. When driving on the road, the rear wheels are automatically straightened so that your Range Rover doesn’t look messy when parked.

One of the new off-road driving features is the adaptive off-road cruise control, which allows the driver to set the target speed and then the comfort level. This is similar to choosing the follow distance in an adaptive highway cruise, only instead of how close you want to be to other cars, it tells the system how hard you are willing to hit bumps and ditches to maintain your set speed. The need for such a thing seems minimal, but it doesn’t matter because there are so many steps in the menu that no one will remember how to use them.

This is a critique that applies to much of the Pivi Pro Range Rover’s user interface. The digital instrument display and the large center touchscreen (which curves to the shape of the dashboard) both use elegant fonts and eye-catching graphics. But everything is at least two clicks away, often via multiple buttons in different locations. For example, customizing the heads-up display requires four choices via the steering wheel buttons, and once done, four steps to exit that menu. At the end of the day, we give up trying to customize anything and leave everything in the default settings.

It’s a shame because the rest of the Sport’s interior is excellent. The leather and animal-free interior is soft and comfortable, with an interesting mix of accent materials. We never thought we’d say this, having previously compared faux carbon trim to head cheese, but on the door panels and console of the P530, it looks amazing, isn’t very reflective, and looks like it’ll wear well — unlike the white of the steering wheel, which is one of the chocolate donuts was far from a disaster. The front seats are supportive enough to drive hard, but are as soft as a luxury ride, and are heated, ventilated and massaged. The rear seat reclines and offers room for a full-size rider or child seat. Behind them, there are 32 cubic feet to fill with groceries, dog crates, or plush ham.

Discreet shoppers will wait a year for a PHEV with the Stormer plan; it’s a more refined engine, and with 434 horsepower and an estimated 50-mile electric range, it can be a weekday EV as well as a weekend rambler. For those who need a classy carrier right away — and want to be able to glide around obstacles as effortlessly as driving straight over them — the V-8 First Edition is an alley-escaping action hero.



2023 Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Vehicle Type: front engine, all wheel drive, 5 passengers, 4 door wagon

Base: P360 SE, $84,475; P400 SE Dynamic, $91,475; P440e PHEV Autobiography, $105.675; P530 First Edition, $122,975

P360: supercharged, turbocharged, and intercooled DOHC 24-valve 3.0-liter inline-6, 355 hp, 369 lb-ft; P400: supercharged, turbocharged, and intercooled DOHC 24-valve 3.0-liter inline-6, 395 hp, 406 lb-ft; P440e: supercharged, turbocharged, and intercooled DOHC 24-valve 3.0-liter inline-6, 395 hp, 406 lb-ft + AC motor, 141 hp (combined output: 434 hp, 457 lb-ft; lithium-ion 31.8 -kWh battery pack; 7.2 kW built-in charger); P530: twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve 4.4-liter V-8, 523 hp, 553 lb-ft

Automatic 8 speed

Wheelbase: 118.0 inches
Length: 194.7 inches
Width: 80.6 inches
Height: 71.7 inches
Passenger Volume: 106 feet3
Cargo Volume: 32 feet3
Restraint Weight (CD approx.): 5000-5880 lb

60 mph: 4.3-5.7 seconds
100 mph: 10.4-14.9 seconds
1/4-Mile: 12.6-14.4 seconds
Top Speed: 140-155 mph

Combined/City/Highway: 18-22/16-19/21-26 mpg
P440e Combined Gasoline + Electric: 52 MPGe
P440e EV Range: 50 miles

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