The Land Rover Range Rover Sport sees a variety of small changes, ranging from beautifying to serviceable. The former include revised exterior trim details while the latter include efficient audio and entertainment systems.
Notwithstanding its name, the Range Rover Sport has more in common with the former Land Rover LR3 than the top-of-the-line Range Rover. Although the styling is very similar between the two Rovers, the Sport is almost 8 inches shorter and has nearly 2.5 inches less ground clearance.
The Sport is a Land Rover and as such is plenty capable on slippery terrain thanks to features such as full-time four-wheel drive, a two-speed transfer case, ascent and descent controls and an electronic locking rear differential. There’s even a system that calibrates the power train and suspension settings to optimize traction in conditions including snow, dirt, mud and gravel. Even if Range Rover Sport owners never go off-road, the Sport is more willing to dirty its boots than most of its competitors. On-road performance is great, given the available 510-horsepower supercharged V8 that puts straight-line performance in line with rivals like the BMW X5 M and Porsche Cayenne Turbo.
Tempting as all that is, Range Rover’s subpar reliability record has been a prickle in the company’s side for a long time and a red flag for potential buyers. In light of the latter as well as tight headroom for taller rear seat passengers, the 2012 Range Rover Sport isn’t the most practical choice out there for a luxury midsize SUV. But with these types of vehicle purchases, practicality usually takes a backseat to more tempting characteristics such as handsome styling, a luxurious cabin, polished on- and off-road manners and the status of driving a time-honoured marque. That said, we’d still suggest cross-shopping the Sport with the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne.