Car of the Year 2006: Land Rover Range Rover Sport

<< Back to Robb Report, February 2006

Seldom is heard a discouraging word when home on the range with any Land Rover. Since 1948, the name has been synonymous with superb off-roading, all forms of agribusiness, and most military forces. More than three decades ago, Land Rover introduced the Range Rover, which established a standard for luxury sport-utility vehicles that has yet to be eclipsed by BMW’s X5, Porsche’s Cayenne, Cadillac’s Escalade, or Mercedes’ M-Class.

If there was a flaw in the Range Rover, it resulted from Land Rover’s focus on driving capably in the dirt rather than motoring securely and comfortably on the road. So Land Rover, now a division of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group, built the 2006 Range Rover Sport, an SUV designed to fix that imperfection. The Sport’s ability to crawl across rocks remains almost peerless, and it performs just as well on the straight and level because of its supercharged, 390 hp, 4.2-liter V-8 (borrowed from fellow PAG member Jaguar); lower, shorter, and narrower dimensions; aerodynamic shaping; and suspension tuning. The Sport achieves a top speed of 140 mph and a zero-to-60 time of 7.2 seconds.

Still, for this evaluation, the Sport was up against a pride of higher- performing, equally-or-more-expensive, just-as-prestigious luxury sedans and coupes whose off-road abilities are limited to navigating unpaved parking lots and polo fields. In such company, an SUV easily can be overlooked, unless you own a vineyard or a Sahara-adjacent subdivision. It therefore did not come as a surprise when the judges relegated the Range Rover Sport to the 12th spot.

“It is neither fish nor fowl,” noted judge Scott Kriens. “It seems to be caught between Porsche and BMW, Ford and Chevy.” William Weidner was equally confused. “Is it a luxury off-roader?” he asked. “Is it a speedy kid transport? Maybe it would be ideal for a tall, Norwegian soccer mom with a husband, Sven, who likes muscle.”

At the brighter end of the judgments, Ron Semler had only one suggestion: “Ask them to put three more seats in the back, so that we can drive this one home.” And all that supercharged power had Todd Thomson deciding that “an SUV can be fun.”

Despite Land Rover’s efforts, however, the Sport still is more fun off- road than on.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

ENGINE 4.2-liter, supercharged V-8
POWER 390 hp at 5,750 rpm
TORQUE 410 ft lbs
ZERO-TO-60 7.2 seconds
TOP SPEED 140 mph
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic   
WHEELBASE 108 inches
CURB WEIGHT 5,670 pounds
BASE PRICE $69,750

Lufthansa allows first-class fliers to drive a Porsche 911 or Panamera while waiting for wheels up...
These hard chargers from the world’s premier automotive masters are fast, furious, and the future…
Unconstrained by convention, today’s top builders produce motorcycles that set new benchmarks…
Photo by James Lipman
Bentley proves that luxurious amenities and raw speed make fine bedfellows…
The Range Rover Sport SVR is the first in Land Rover’s new ultrapowerful lineup…
Robb Report Spain named the 2015 GTA Spano supercar to 2015's Best of the Best...
Though its power is electronically limited, the bike still puts its road-going competitors to shame…
Vintage formula 5000 cars will make their debut at this year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion...
The new specification for the Flying Spur V8 includes 20-inch alloy wheels for a sportier stance…
All images copyright and courtesy of Mathieu Heurtault
The storied racer will be the main attraction at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach Auctions…