Friday, January 14, 2011


Probably for my first blog I should be writing about some topic other than a car review, but this being several days removed from Auburn's victory over Oregon for the national collegiate football championship and two days from a Duke loss in basketball (in today's age of instant communications, those topics qualify for history books), I really don't have much of anything else to say at the moment. (What? You want my NFL playoff predictions? No, you really don't.)

Funny thing is, though, my first car review on my new blog isn't going to be about a car.

I just got out of a Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE model (I don't name them; I just write about them), which isn't a car, of course. It's an SUV in every sense of the word.

I've kind of had a soft spot in my heart for Land Rovers ever since I maneuvered a Discovery II up the side of a mountain in Vermont a few years ago. I've also had the fun experience of attending the Land Rover Driving Experience school on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, (twice) and have grown to appreciate Land Rover's combination of luxury and ruggedness. It seems incongruous to be sitting in such comfort while you're rock crawling or splashing through creeks.

The main thing like about the Range Rover, though, is the feeling of power that comes over me when I get behind the wheel. With 375 horsepower (same as the figure for torque) available to me from the 5.0-liter V8 engine and riding on 19-inch wheels shod with 255/50YR19 tires, I have a feeling that I can crush anything and just about everything that would dare get in my path.

Not that I would ever do anything such thing, of course.

I have this feeling, by the way, even in the Range Rover Sport, which is a slightly smaller version of the full-size, top-of-the-line Range Rover, the true behemoth in the Land Rover lineup. The Sport still offers full-time four-wheel drive with two-speed transfer case (for true off-roading) and suspension and traction settings: general driving, grass/gravel/snow, sand, mud and ruts, and rock crawl. I don't know how often "rock crawl" would come up for most people, but if you get the opportunity, you need to take advantage of it. It's pretty cool.


I mentioned the Sport is slightly smaller than the full-size Range Rover, but unless they were sitting side-by-side, you probably wouldn't notice it. It also sits slightly lower. You probably wouldn't notice that, either. Small here is a relative term. The Sport weighs in at about 5,500 pounds, about 1,500 less than the full-size Range Rover. The Sport is about 188 inches long, 76 wide, and a fraction over 70 tall. That's not really small, is it? Unless, of course, you put it up against the Range Rover, which is about 195 inches long, 80 wide, and 74 tall.


If you wouldn't really notice the difference in size, likely what you spot right off is the rakish roof line on the back half of the Sport as opposed to the boxy rear of the Range Rover. The liftgate also is different. On the Sport, you can open the glass portion only or lift open the full gate. On the RR, the liftgate splits, the bottom half lowering to give you a small tailgate on which to put your tailgate party items.

I didn't have any complaints about the liftgate, but I do have an issue with the screen that displays navigation, audio, climate and other system settings. When the sun hits it, the screen is difficult to see, and the sun hits it quite easily. Because many of the functions are touch-screen, fingerprints muddle up the view as well. But that probably would be as big of an issue as it is if there was to adjust the slant of the display screen, which also could be slightly bigger.

Overall, because of its size and nifty handling the Range Rover Sport may be slightly more adaptable for life in an urban environment. It's also nearly nearly $20,000 cheaper than the full-size Range Rover with an MSRP starting at just under $60,000. The vehicle I just got out of had a couple of extras like a premium sound system and a luxury interior package that ran the total cost to $68,395.

And thus ends my first blog.

Oh, what the hell. I pick the Ravens over Steelers (sorry, Russ), the Falcons over the Packers, the Bears over the Seahawks (though wouldn't it be funny to see a nine-game loser keep advancing), and the Patriots most definitely over the Jets. 


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