Nuts & Bolts

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Complaint: A combined 15 miles per gallon using premium gasoline -- even for affluent buyers -- just doesn't cut it in an economically troubled market, nor will it do much for sales in a recovered economy. Here's urging Tata to put more fuel-efficient drive systems in America. The company can start with diesel.

Ride, acceleration and handling: All are among best-in-class for mid-size utility vehicles. Assuming you can cope with the fuel costs, this is a joy to take on the road -- and off.

Head-turning quotient: Sport-utility vehicles get no respect on the street nowadays. But the Range Rover Sport HSE at least gets a grudging nod. People seem to know that it will be around long after the fad of hating SUVs has passed.

Body style/layout: This is a premium, mid-size sport-utility vehicle with full-time four-wheel drive (mechanical center differential, center locking differential, electronic high and low gear selection with hill ascent/descent assistance). The V-8 engine is mounted up front; spare tire mounted underneath aluminum body.

Capacities: There are seats for five people. Maximum cargo capacity is 71 cubic feet. The Range Rover Sport HSE can carry a payload, or onboard weight, of 1,301 pounds. It can be equipped to tow a trailer weighing 7,716 pounds.

Mileage: A combined 15 miles per gallon for city-highway travel.

Safety: Standard equipment includes front and rear ventilated disc brakes with antilock protection; emergency braking assistance; electronic stability and traction control; side and rear air bags; and xenon high-intensity discharge headlamps.

Price: The base price is $58,375. Dealer's price is $53,121. Price as tested is $61,550, including $2,400 in options ($2,000 for Brembo brakes and sports-handling upgrade suspension; $400 for satellite radio) and a $775 transportation charge. Dealer's price as tested is $56,080. Prices sourced from Land Rover, and, an affiliate of The Washington Post.

Purse-strings note: Compare with Acura MDX, Audi Q5 and Q7, BMW X5, Cadillac SRX, Infiniti FX35, Lexus RX 350, Lincoln MKX, and Mercedes-Benz GLK.

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