NEW YORK--Last year, Land Rover launched a significant update to its flagship Range Rover model, remaking the SUV with a lighter-weight aluminum body. At the New York auto show, Land Rover rolls out the Sport version of the Range Rover, traditionally a more road-capable vehicle. However, the new Range Rover Sport adds a V-6 engine option, something not found on the new Range Rover, along with a base model price undercutting the Range Rover by $20,000. However, at $63,495 for the base Range Rover Sport, it isn't cheap.
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Although based on the Range Rover, the Range Rover Sport sits 2.17 inches lower and employs different design cues to echo its intended buyer. The grille is smaller than that of the Range Rover, the lower fascia is different, and even the headlight casings are narrower. The new Range Rover came out at 800 pounds lighter than its predecessor, and the Range Rover Sport drops another 100 pounds.
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Despite its Sport label, this new model boasts 11.2 inches of ground clearance and a 33.5-inch wading depth. All Range Rover Sport models come with four-wheel-drive, although the base model will have a transfer case that automatically distributes torque between front and rear axles, defaulting to a 42/58 percent split. The Range Rover Sport can be had with a two-speed transfer case, which includes a low range for serious off-road work. The Range Rover Sport also gets Land Rover's Terrain Response System, which lets the driver dial in the type of terrain being traversed to activate different electronic traction and stability programs.
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Unlike the Range Rover, which can only be had with a naturally aspirated or supercharged V-8, the Range Rover Sport comes with either a supercharged 3-liter V-6 or the supercharged 5-liter V-8. The V-6 generates 340 horsepower, while the V8 is good for 510 horsepower. Land Rover has also employed an idle-stop system to help save gasoline during traffic stops.
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Land Rover uses four way controllers on either side of the steering wheel for cabin electronics and other functions. The instrument cluster employs a 5-inch LCD between the speedometer and tachometer, but can be upgraded to a full 12.3-inch LCD showing virtual gauges.
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The Terrain Response System includes settings for sand, mud, and snow. Like its big brother, the Range Rover Sport relies on an eight speed automatic transmission, which, of course, has a sport mode.
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An 8-inch touch screen in the center of the dashboard shows typical cabin electronics functions, such as navigation, audio, and hands-free phone system.
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For audiophiles, Land Rover offers a choice of three different Meridian sound system in the Range Rover Sport. The top one uses 23 speakers and a 1,700-watt amp.
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