Car of the Year 2006: Land Rover Range Rover Sport

  • “Question: Is there a particular person you can imagine driving this automobile? Answer: a vineyard manager.” —Ron Rosenbrand
  • Photo courtesy of Ford
    “A bit top-heavy in handling, but way better than I expected in overall enjoyment.” —Bruce Meyer Photo courtesy of Ford
  • Photo courtesy of Ford
<< 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.



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

300 of the special-edition M4s are allocated for the United States…
An extending tail and flattening rims help make the concept more aerodynamic at high speeds…
Flying in the face of common design, the car is a model of efficiency with any power train…
The new electric SUV is the fastest of its kind, complete with superhero-style doors.
The first video of the Range Rover Evoque Convertible was just released…
The annual event was filled to the brim with nail-biting races and gorgeous vintage automobiles…
Photo by Drew Gibson
Made exclusively for the film, only one of the 10 examples will be available to the public…
One of only 50 convertibles, the 265 hp Duesy is estimated to bring in as much as $2.5 million…
With details from past Porsches, the Mission E is the perfect combination of classic and innovative…
Photo by Darin Schnabel
On the block December 10, the queen of psychedelic rock’s roadster is as unique as she was…