2017 Range Rover Sport Autobiography: Equestrian Road Trip Review
The 2017 Range Rover Sport is an impressive machine, with the supercharged 5.0L V8 packing 510 horsepower, making it one of the most powerful sport utility vehicles sold in the USA. When you tack on the Autobiography trim line, you have a high performance luxury SUV which puts just as much emphasis on performance as it does luxury, but like other high end luxo-performance SUVs, this Range Rover is saddled with the stigma of being a mall crawler. Even though the Range Rover Sport has many of the same features which make other Land Rover models so capable in any driving situation, the fact that many owners do not go off-roading or tow anything with their big, beautiful British SUV leads critics to insist that the vehicles cannot comfortably perform these tasks.
Especially with the supercharged, 510 horsepower Range Rover, critics insist that is a big, heavy gas-guzzling SUV which only serves as a toy. These anti-performance SUV folks will insist that the supercharged Range Rover is a one-trick pony, so I wanted to put this high performance SUV through a few common tasks which many of your average SUVs drivers do from time to time. In addition to the rigors of daily life around town, I would use the Range Rover Sport for a long road trip to one of the world’s most prominent horse shows followed by a local horse show – which including pulling my standard 2-horse test trailer home from the show venue.
Can a supercharged Range Rover serve as a great road trip vehicle and perform the work of my half ton pickup?
Yes and yes.
800 Mile Road Trip to America’s Biggest Horse Show
My extended weekend of equestrian events began with the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event presented by Land Rover in Lexington, Kentucky. That venue and the corresponding hotel are about 400 miles from my house, so on the day before the Rolex 3-Day began, I made the long drive with the 2017 Range Rover Sport.
As you might expect, the premium interior layout of the Autobiography package made for a very comfortable 400 mile drive to Kentucky from Michigan. It was warm when I left the house, so I made good use of the cooled driver’s seat and the massaging feature throughout the duration of the trip south. I used Land Rover’s turn by turn navigation system to get me to the hotel and along the way, the system did a great job of navigating me around traffic situations along my route and when the nav wasn’t talking to me – the high end Meridian sound system was the highlight of the drive through the long, boring stretches of Ohio. When using the buttons on the steering wheel, the driver is able to flip through tracks on the dual USB auxiliary inputs or through the preset satellite radio stations, so you can constantly adjust the sound system on a long trip without taking your hands off of the wheel.()
For the majority of the trip to Kentucky, I set the adaptive cruise control of the Range Rover Sport at 70mph and let the system handle the throttle and breaking along the way. I did find that the traffic gap aspect of the Range Rover’s cruise control is a bit overbearing, even when you shorten up the distance, but unlike so many other adaptive cruise control systems – you can disable to gap distance. This way, if a slower moving car on the highway crosses into your path for a second, the Range Rover won’t suddenly slow down for no reason.
Also, while cruising down the highway for 400 miles, I drove this Range Rover on a variety of road surfaces and in every situation, I was impressed with the ride quality and the low levels of interior noise. Now keep in mind that the Sport package comes with a set of 22 inch black wheels wrapped in low profile tires, which look great, but those low profile tires are prone to absorbing less road harshness. As a result, these huge rollers allow slightly more of the bumps and imperfections in the road to echo into the cabin, but the ride is still as smooth as you would expect from a premium luxury SUV. It is a slightly bumpier ride than a vehicle with smaller wheels, bigger tires and a less aggressive suspension setup, but as high performance SUVs go – the Range Rover Sport offers excellent ride quality at highway speeds.
There was a stretch where I was going a little slower than the posted speed limit due to hard rains and slower traffic, but for the most part, I cruised from Michigan to Lexington, Kentucky at 70mph in complete comfort. I expected that the drive would be smooth and comfortable, but what I didn’t expect was for the supercharged V8 to get excellent fuel economy numbers on that long drive. According to the EPA, this Range Rover should return 14mpg around town and 19mpg on the highway for a combined figure of 16mpg. On my 400-mile drive from Michigan to Kentucky, I averaged 22.1 miles per gallon, driving at 70 miles per hour with the radio, air conditioning and cooled seats kicking.