Range Rover Sport models distill the bullish power and go-anywhere capability of their full-size siblings into a precisely honed package, placing the emphasis on nimble road manners and heightened efficiency. The 2011 Range Rover Sport HSE LUX edition takes a storied level of refinement and boosts it to a degree best described as tasteful opulence.
The competition tends to crow about sophistication and power, but few even mention off-road dynamics. It’s as if their premium SUVs were afraid to get a little mud on their flanks. Just a glance at its two-bar, diamond-mesh grille and traditional upright form tells you the 2011 Range Rover Sport HSE LUX is ready for business – no matter the landscape. Pleasure is served as well, thanks in part to a robust 375-hp V8, handcrafted leather interior and the latest in entertainment and information technology.
Range Rover offers the Sport in HSE (MSRP $60,495), HSE LUX, 510-hp Supercharged, Range Rover Sport GT Limited Edition and ultra-exclusive Autobiography Sport (MSRP $86,395) models. Here, the focus is on the five-seat HSE LUX (MSRP $65,195).
Set between the HSE LUX’s prominent wheel arches and diamond mesh fender vents, that 375-hp 5.0-liter V8 delivers a top speed of 130 mph and acceleration runs from zero-to-60 mph in just 7.2 seconds. And since Range Rovers must balance performance on pavement with off-road dexterity, engine components such as the alternator, starter motor and power steering pump are all waterproofed. That means the HSE LUX can wade across a stream up to 27.5 inches deep without a hiccup in power delivery.
Helping to put the V8’s power down smoothly is an adaptive six-speed automatic transmission with CommandShift® for manual gear selection in both high and low ranges. Also contributing to precise power flow is the HSE LUX’s permanent four-wheel drive system, complemented by standard four-wheel Electronic Traction Control (ETC) and an available Active Locking Rear Differential.
The HSE LUX is also well prepared for when the roads you travel start to twist. A full slate of driver-assistance technology is onboard to keep you safe at speed including Roll Stability Control (RSC) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). Both systems use the four-channel antilock brakes – equipped with ventilated discs front and rear and Electronic Brake Assist (EBA).
To keep the Range Rover Sport’s ride as comfortable and controlled as that of a flagship luxury sedan, the HSE LUX does away with conventional shocks in favor of a four-wheel air suspension. Not only does this suspension tame bumps in the road, it’s also integral to the Range Rover Sport’s vaunted Terrain Response system. Controlled by a dial mounted on the center console, Terrain Response lets you choose a setting that matches the surface you mean to cross (from Mud and Ruts to Grass, Gravel and Snow), then automatically adjusts a variety of steering, suspension and stability control systems to deliver the perfect driving experience.
Perfection extends to the HSE LUX’s stunning interior where occupants enjoy premium leather surfaces complemented by a selection of genuine wood or Black Lacquer trim finishes. Standard luxury amenities include Pushbutton Start, mood lighting, an electric tilt-and-slide glass sunroof, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shiftknob and eight-way power front seats with power lumbar support for the driver.
The list also features a rearview camera, Bluetooth® connectivity, a USB port and separate iPod port, auxiliary audio ports for second-row seats, 20-inch, 15-spoke alloy wheels, a 240-watt harman/kardon® AM/FM/CD audio system with nine speakers and a hard-disc drive (HDD) satellite navigation system with voice activation and a touchscreen mounted in the center stack.
Tech-savvy buyers are sure to appreciate the five-inch Thin-Film Transistor (TFT) screen nestled in the gauge cluster, which provides all the information on vehicle settings drivers may need.
In keeping with its mission to raise luxury to a new level, the HSE LUX also comes equipped with electrically adjustable front seat bolsters and the Comfort Climate Pack (optional on the HSE), which features heated front and rear seats, along with heat for the steering wheel, windshield and washer jets.
As you’d expect with a vehicle so well equipped, options are few and include highline items such as a harman/kardon® LOGIC 7® surround-sound system, a Rear Seat DVD Entertainment Pack with screens mounted in the back of the front-seat headrests and the Vision Assist Pack, which includes Adaptive Headlamps, Automatic High-Beam Assist and a Surround Camera that delivers a near 360-degree view around the vehicle for maneuvering through tight spots.
If top-tier luxury is a priority when you’re choosing a premium SUV, be sure to sample the only one that can handle straight-line highways, curving coastal two-lanes and backcountry trails all with equal aplomb – the 2011 Range Rover Sport HSE LUX.