Experience The Driver’s Seat: Range Rover Sport

The first time you check out the 2014 Range Rover Sport, do yourself a favor: go after sundown. Hang out by the driver’s door and press the unlock button on the remote.

The outside rearview mirrors will pivot outward, incorporating puddle lights to illuminate the curb, road or driveway. And, in perhaps the automotive equivalent of a tail wag, this Rover will greet you with a reminder of how you’re about to roll.

One of the most coveted SUVs in America, the Range Rover Sport enters its second generation for the 2014 model year with an exhaustive list of improvements.

The big news is its diet program. Thanks to the extensive use of aluminum for its chassis, front and rear suspension and body panels and doors, this Range Rover Sport is about 800 pounds lighter than the 2013 model.

There’s a new base engine: a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 that makes 340 horsepower and should enable the Range Rover Sport to do 0 to 60 mph dashes in just under seven seconds. This is the engine that was in our “Fuji White” test car. Combined with the reduction in body mass index and the silky eight-speed automatic transmission, the V6 accelerated with gusto.

Though Range Rover Sport owners may not face terrain more challenging than holiday traffic at or near The Galleria, don’t be fooled. The Range Rover Sport is a steel fist in a velvet glove, thanks to the many dynamic systems that control braking traction and acclamation.

Land Rover’s engineers also devoted attention to details such as optimal driving position, ranging from seat location (higher) to steering wheel (smaller diameter and thicker rim).

Its many creature comforts make the Range Rover Sport stand out in the luxury SUV market. The soft-touch materials, super comfortable leather-trimmed heated and cooled seats, library-quiet cabin and pothole-taming suspension justify its $63,495 starting price.

There are optional Meridian-branded audio systems, but we found the standard, eight-speaker, 380-watt unit transformed the Range Rover Sport into a sound studio on wheels. The sound is amazing whether it’s the rich vocals of a Michael Bublé ballad or a bow being drawn against a violin string in a piece by John Williams.

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