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2006 Range Rover HSE Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
Land Rover Range Rover 4.6 HSE

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
Land Rover Range Rover 4.6 HSE


MODEL: Range Rover Sport HSE
ENGINE: 4.4-liter V8
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 300 hp @ 5500 rpm/315 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with manual shift mode
WHEELBASE: 108.0 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 188.5 x 85.4 x 71.5 in.
TIRES: P225/50YR19
CARGO VOLUME: 71.0 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 14 mpg city/19 mpg highway/14.2 mpg test
PRICE: $63,550 (includes $715 inland transportation charge)

While the Range Rover Sport competes in the same marketplace as the Porsche Cayenne, Cadillac SRX and BMW X5, there really is no competition off road.

On road the Sport has decent manners and a slightly hard ride. Off road the Sport tracks like a mountain goat over any obstacle in its path and does it with a level of luxury you can't find in similarly adept off-road vehicles.

This is a true sport ute with a split personality.

You can bash around mountain trails with abandon during the day, wash it and yourself off after you're done, and head out to a fine dinner and a show later. No one will be the wiser.

The Sport has multiple off-road adjustments for maximum performance.

Our tester had four-wheel electronic air suspension with CommandShift. It had permanent four-wheel driver, four wheel electronic traction control an a two-speed electronic transfer box with an electronic center differential.

What the jargon means is that it's vary capable off-road no matter what the circumstances.

We've had opportunities to drive the Sport on- and off-road, with the 4.4-literV8 and the 4.2-liter supercharged V8.

Both engines are Jaguar-derived, with the supercharged version offering 390 horses versus 300 for the normally aspirated version.

In my mind, the extra power isn't necessary. While the Sport' s milieu is off-road, when it's on the highway it doesn't need the extra power.

Three hundred horses and 315 lbs-ft of torque are enough to keep it in fast company. Accelerating into traffic on entry ramps or from stop lights is no problem either.

Our tester had the 6-speed automatic transmission with a manual adapter. We used the manual often off-road, but didn't need it on-road. Shifts were smooth and when we needed power we stepped on the loud pedal and the power was there.

Seating was hard. The seats were leather-covered and didn't offer a lot of side support.

Off road I would have preferred some more side support to hold me in the seat better. The front seats had center arm rests that were adjustable for maximum comfort.

Rear seats offered good leg and knee room, so any adult riding back there would do so in comfort. Since the Sport rides high, there's also decent leg and knee room for the rear center passenger. Like the front seats, the rear seats are heated for maxim cold-weather comfort. The headrests on the rear seats are low-profile so they don't inhibit rearward vision.

The Range Rover Sport rides high, so entry can be difficult for senior citizens. Thankfully, there were assist handles at the doors and the driver can always grab the steering wheel to assist in entry. But, riding high gives it excellent road clearance. The vehicle also has excellent entry and exit angles of departure that will permit it to attack fairly steep hills from a flat entry.

The rear seats fold flat to increase cargo capacity to the Sport's maximum of 71.0 cubic feet. Before folding the rear seat back, you have to lift and stow the bottom cushion in the rear foot well, which requires the front seat back to be forward of maximum rearward adjustment. However, we discovered that driving this way was not a problem.

Our tester had a multifunction steering wheel with good clear cruise control switches. There was also an excellent horn button (once you find it) and good audio controls.

The instrument panel was clear and easy to rear. The audio system offered good tone. It was somewhat difficult to figure out at first, but once you get up the learning curve it's okay.

While the Range rover Sport probably won't win any beauty contests, the newer versions are far more attractive than the predecessors.

But you don't get a Range Rover for beauty; you get it because you want it to go off into the country sometimes and because you want comfort and luxury on the highway.

As I have said with other vehicles, you can't see the outside from the inside and you can't enjoy the performance of a more beautiful car that can just sit there.

2006 The Auto Page Syndicate