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Photos: 2009 Range Rover Sport HSE

Although in serious need of a cabin tech update, the 2009 Range Rover Sport maintains its off-road prowess and general drivability.

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CNET Reviews staff
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The Sport HSE is positioned as a more road-friendly version of the standard Range Rover. Both models are powered by 4.4-liter engines, and Land Rover offers pricier supercharged versions of each. Lesser models in the Land Rover line are the LR3 and LR2.
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The Sport model has different styling cues from the standard Range Rover, with a drilled grille and a scoop below the bumper. Our model also has adaptive headlights.
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The Range Rover Sport uses a 4.4-liter aluminum block V-8 engine, making 300 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 315 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. Although we found this engine to be more than adequate for the Sport, Land Rover also offers a supercharged 4.2-liter V-8 that makes 390 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque.
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The Range Rover Sport seats five in comfort, with plenty of cargo space. A rear-seat DVD system is optional.
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The rear window opens separately from the hatch for quick access to the cargo area.
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Cargo area is ample, but the Sport doesn't have a third-row seat option. The air suspension can be dropped to a loading height, making access easier.
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Although well-appointed with leather and wood trim, the cabin of the Range Rover Sport suffers from an abundance of hard plastic and outdated cabin tech.
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The Range Rover Sport exhibits plenty of understeer in the corners, but the steering is responsive. Steering wheel buttons include voice command access for the navigation system and cell phone integration.
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The big shift lever controls a six-speed automatic transmission. Put it in Sport mode, and it keeps the engine revving around 3,500 rpm, or you can use manual mode.
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Land Rover includes its Terrain Response System in all of its models. This system has five programs for different surface types, adjusting torque and traction control appropriately.
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At its lowest setting, the air suspension gives the Range Rover Sport a ground clearance of 6.8 inches.
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Set the air suspension for off-roading, and the Range Rover Sport gets a ground clearance of 8.9 inches.
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The Range Rover Sport is in serious need of a cabin tech update. The navigation system, although standard, isn't integrated with the audio or cell phone systems, relegating audio information to the little monochrome radio display on the instrument panel.
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This DVD-based navigation system gets the job done, but with no advanced features. We do like its off-road mode, which leaves a breadcrumb trail on uncharted terrain, helping the car get back to the civilization.
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This off-road information screen shows the Range Rover Sport's current settings, along with wheel position, making it possible for drivers to determine how close they are getting to disaster.
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Sirius satellite radio is an option on the Ranger Rover Sport. The interface isn't bad, letting you easily select channels by category.
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The Harman Kardon Logic 7 audio system uses 14 speakers and a 550-watt amp. The sound quality is very clean and balanced.
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The Luxury Interior package includes this cooler in the console, with enough space for a bottle of water or a couple of soda cans.

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