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Land Rover Range Rover Sport V8

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Base Price: 79,100
Price as Tested: 104,510

For pomp, circumstance, performance and unparalleled off-road capability, it doesn’t get much better than the Land Rover Range Rover Sport V8.

Generally, Land Rover derives its sales from the gentry – in fact and aspiring. One thing that separates them from us unwashed, apparently, is the wherewithal and willingness to purchase capability very few will ever use.

Land Rover has a well-earned reputation for going places of which lesser 4x4s can only dream. But, that technology bakes a lot ofRRS_SDV8_14MY_Range_Drive_061113_02_LowRes cost into the purchase price. Yes, it is uber opulent with all the geegaws one would hope to find in a luxury vehicle; however, all that engineering expertise creating, what is arguably, the world’s most capable consumer, large off roader ain’t cheap. A mere glance at the array of off-roading controls crowding the center console is just the first hint that there is something serious going on here.

I have given up attempting to find a location to do this beast’s 4WD system justice. I simply have never been able to locate an off-road challenge sufficient to really test its mettle. I have taken previous models through some pretty hairy areas on Land Rover media drives, but never on my own. But believe me, this thing will take you just about any place you want to go. But, because I can’t detail an off-roading experience with the Sport V8, this missive will focus on its performance and life-style aspects.

Buying into the Range Rover Sport V8 requires ponying up $79,100. My test Sport V8 was the Autobiography version, which tacked another $13,300 to the bottom line. Tossing in a few other goodies like the 23-speaker 3D surround-sound Meridian audio package, rear-entertainment system and third-row seat added another $9,710. That’s a lot of jack, Jack.

LoireBlue_V6Supercharged_165_LowResFull disclosure: I am cheating a little with this review. The Range Rover Sport V8 I recently piloted around South Florida for six days was, in fact, a 2014. Virtually unchanged for 2015, last year’s model is pretty much the same. So, we’ll do a little fudging and file this report in the 2015 drawer.

If you are going to do a little showing off in a high-end luxury SUV, what better place than Miami’s South Beach? Creeping up and down Collins Avenue along the beach in its notorious bumper-to-bumper traffic, the Sport V8 I was driving fit right in among the Ferrari 458s, Lamborghinis and Mercedes-Benz AMGs of every stripe. I nearly forgot that I work for a living as I popped out of it at the valet stand at the Sagamore Hotel. I almost expected to be mobbed by paparazzi. I admit it; I was having a Walter Mitty moment. “Yes, it’s me; I have arrived!”

Performance comes from a 510-horsepower 5-liter supercharged V8, hustling output to all four wheels via a driver-shiftable, eight-speed automatic transmission. This combo is good for accelerating from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in less than five seconds. Not too shabby for a vehicle tipping the scales at a hefty 4,700 pounds. Believe it or not, this generation of the Sport is almost 40% lighter than the previous version thanks mostly to the liberal use of aluminum in the body panels and suspension bits.

If the Sport V8 isn’t quite fast enough for you, there’s an even quicker Sport SVR version that’s new for 2015.

At an EPA-estimated 14 mpg city, 19 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined, the Sport V8’s fuel economy still leaves Sierra Club members red faced and sputtering, but it’s pretty darn good for a full-size 4WD SUV – particularly one with the Sport V8’s quickness.

Range Rover engineers did a marvelous job tuning and tweaking the suspension. For its beefy dimensions, the Sport is quite nimble, handling much more like a sports sedan than an SUV.

Inside, the five-person cabin is roomy, comfortable and almost embarrassingly opulent. Quality materials are everywhere; those LR_Range_Rover_Sport_Interior_01_LowRescovered with fabric or leather are of the soft-touch variety.

Even the entry-level Sport comes with power everything from 14-way power adjustable front leather seats to a power liftgate, folding/heated outboard mirrors, tilt-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel and an optional power-folding third-row seat. Dual-zone automatic climate control, a navigation system with 8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, rearview camera and an eight-speaker audio system with iPod interface are all standard as well.

The extra cost of the Autobiography package rewards you with lots of appearance enhancements like red brake calipers, as well as upgrades, such as adaptive head lights, heated second-row seats, blind-spot monitoring, an 11-speaker Meridian surround-sound audio system and 22-inch alloy wheels.

Most of my driving consisted of motoring up and down sections of the pancake-flat and ramrod-straight I-95 between West Palm Beach and Miami. I didn’t care. The Sport V8 was as well suited to this task as boulder crawling in Utah.

Looking good is feeling good when cruising around South Florida. The Land Rover Range Rover V8 certainly checks off that box.