2009 Range Rover Sport HSE

Luxurious Interior

While most buyers will appreciate the Range Rover's leather upholstery, I'd like to see cloth as an option. The leather gets hot in extreme heat, and it's harder for us active types to keep clean.

Having said that, the seats are quite comfortable with plenty of lower back support. Land Rover's two-stage seat heaters are the best I've found. Living in Phoenix, I don't need them for warmth, but they're almost like having a physical therapist in the car. My latissimus dorsal muscles always emerge from the experience as very happy campers.

Most of the controls on the car are intuitive and easy to reach: a three gauge cluster with digital trip meter in the center, and the dual-zone climate controls, audio system controls and navigation system in the center stack.

A small, two-piece center console bin holds electronic devices. The two-part glovebox is quite large: the bottom bin can easily hold a small purse or pack.

The steering wheel includes redundant audio and Bluetooth controls to minimize driver distraction.

Window buttons are the only controls I don't like on the car. They're located at the front corner of each window: not the easiest spot to reach, and too close to the window opening. A driver focusing on the road could easily jam a finger.

There is enough legroom in the rear seats for small adults, though taller people may feel cramped. The second-row is wide enough to seat three across.

The center seat position folds down to create an armrest or work surface. Separate vents and a 12-volt power point are located in back of the center stack.

The seats fold flat in two stages: the seat bottom flips forward, and then the seatback folds down using a lever to the outside. It's not necessary to remove the headrests, but they must be all the way down for the seatbacks to clear the bottom cushions.

The Range Rover has a fairly high liftover height because it's a tall car. Shorter drivers may have a hard time loading large cargo in back. Tie-down loops on the floor make it easier to secure big items. There is enough room in back with the second-row seats folded flat to fit a bicycle.

The Range Rover Sport doesn't come with roof rails: a surprising omission considering the target audience. Towing capacity is 7716 pounds for a braked trailer: over double our minimum ALV standards.

Base price on the Range Rover Sport is $58,375, not including a $775 delivery charge and $100 fee for California emissions. Land Rover builds the Range Rover Sport at its assembly plant n Solihull, United Kingdom.

2009 Range Rover Sport HSE

Likes: Authentic off-road capability with refined, powerful on-road performance. City dwellers with a love of adventure will find the best of both worlds in this luxury sport-utility vehicle.

Dislikes: Window controls are difficult to reach. The Range Rover Sport doesn't come with roof rails.

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