The 2023 Range Rover Sport has been made over for its third generation, and while a fully-electric version is planned for 2024, this one is halfway there.
It’s a mouthful of a name: the 2023 Range Rover Sport P440e PHEV SV-Dynamic HSE. [Really, it’s the 2023 Land Rover Range Rover Sport P440e Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Special Vehicle Operations-Dynamic High Specification Equipment. But that’s only if you want to get technical. – Ed.]
This five-seater starts at $125,000, including a non-negotiable delivery fee of $1,950; but Land Rover likes to offer a wide range of options, and my tester had more than $14,000 worth of them, bringing it to nearly $140,000 before taxes.
The Range Rover Sport wears its boxy shape well, at least at the front, with gently rounded corners taking just enough of the edge off (literally). I find the rounded rear a bit heavy in profile, but of course, taste is subjective. It’s similar overall to the outgoing model but smoother, now with one-piece headlights and without the sharp body crease down the side.
The story is the same inside, with the same basic horizontal shape to the dash, but with an integrated top pad instead of a separate panel above the cluster; a new and better-looking steering wheel; and a 13.1-inch centre touchscreen that replaces the previous dual screens for infotainment and climate controls. Everything looks good, but I’d gladly swap the console’s gloss-black surface for something that doesn’t show every fingerprint and spec of dust.
The Range Rover Sport hasn’t been crash-tested by either the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), nor is it likely to be in the future. The organizations tend to focus on vehicles that sell in higher volume, hence why no Jaguar, Land Rover, or Porsche models are put through their paces. However, it did earn the top five-star rating in Europe’s equivalent New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) test.
The expected driver-assist safety features are all standard, including blind-spot monitoring, emergency front braking, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights, as well as parking assistance. The back-up camera, mandatory on all new vehicles, includes a surround-view setup and is paired with a front-facing camera as well.
The Range Rover Sport’s HSE trim includes such features as heated, ventilated, and massaging front seats; power-reclining rear seats; a heated steering wheel; head-up display; auto-dimming mirrors; a panoramic sunroof; and wireless charger. The 13.1-inch central screen contains navigation, along with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. On the outside, you get 22-inch wheels, air suspension, and headlight washers.
My tester was further equipped with such add-ons as upgraded leather upholstery, pixel-style headlights, black exterior accents, and a refrigerated compartment in the centre console. I would have expected my tester’s $916 laminated front and side glass to be standard, though; and the heated windshield, a $450 option, uses tiny, tightly spaced vertical wires to warm the glass. Drive one before you buy; I find it tiring to constantly look through them.
User Friendliness: 7/10
Despite improvements to the infotainment system and controls, many of them are still needlessly fussy. The cabin temperature is handled with large dials, but then you have to pull them up to change them into the fan-speed dials, or push them down so they become the heated and ventilated seat controls. While it’s simple enough to access the individual screens in the infotainment system, it can take a few distracting steps to get to the functions inside. The screen can also be slow to respond when it’s cold.
The Range Rover Sport provides 645 L of cargo space with the rear seats up. They fold electrically and while they don’t go flat, it opens the cargo ability with a total of 1,492 L when they’re down. The cargo area includes bag hooks – a surprising omission on many sport utility vehicles – and a button near the power tailgate (or an icon on the centre screen, once you find it) lets you lower the rear air suspension for easier loading.
The second-row seats fold 40/20/40, and that middle pass-through lets you carry long items like snowboards while still putting two people in full rear chairs. Towing capacity is up to 3,000 kg (6,613 lb) if the trailer has its own brakes – 750 kg (1,653 lb) if it doesn’t – and the roof racks can carry up to 100 kg (220 lb).
“Ridiculously comfortable” is the best way to describe this British beast. Leg- and headroom are considerable, and the seats are supportive, heated, ventilated, and have massage functionality up front. The rear seats are equally comfortable, and those sitting back there won’t complain on long drives, especially with my tester’s optional four-zone climate control. The ride is exceptionally smooth and well-balanced, and the cabin is bank-vault quiet.
The Range Rover Sport plug-in hybrid (PHEV) uses a turbocharged 3.0L inline six-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor and battery pack, with a combined 434 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque that’s channelled through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The power is delivered smoothly, and when you kick it down for passing power on the highway, it responds with linear acceleration that doesn’t quite push you back in the seat but can surprise you when you look down at the speedometer. It can really scoot but does it in luxurious fashion, especially with the transmission’s buttery-smooth shifts.
The hybrid system automatically shifts between gasoline, electricity, or a combination or both, depending on driving conditions. Once it’s been plugged in and charged, you get up to 82 km of battery-only driving. You can save it to use when it’s most advantageous, such as driving in hybrid mode on the highway and then switching to electricity-only once you’re on city streets. When the stored charge depletes, the system reverts to gas-electric hybrid operation so there’s no range anxiety like you might get with a full electric model.
Driving Feel: 9/10
Despite its size and weight, the Range Rover Sport feels light on its feet, with responsive and well-weighted steering. It includes rear-wheel steering, which keeps it tight in turns and easier to spin around in tight parking lots. The adaptive air suspension provides a composed and quiet ride that soaks up bumps but never feels floaty.
While it’s hard to imagine someone taking a $120,000-plus vehicle into the tough stuff, it’s well-equipped to do so. Its drive modes can adapt the all-wheel drive system to sand, mud, or rocky conditions, and its off-road cruise control program works the brake and throttle along the trail so you only have to steer. Should fording a stream be part of the day’s adventures, you can pull up a screen display that shows how high the water is and if it’s safe to proceed.
Fuel Economy: 9/10
The Range Rover Sport is rated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) at 12.4 L/100 km in the city, 10.0 on the highway, and 11.3 in combined driving when in hybrid mode. When driving on its stored charge, it’s rated at 4.0 Le/100 km – for litres equivalent, the comparable electric-energy consumption to gasoline energy. I plugged it in as often as I could, but had two days where road construction blocked my driveway and I couldn’t get to my charger. Even so, I averaged just 6.3 L/100 km over my week with it.
That 11.3 L/100 km combined matches the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid, but trails other PHEV models such as the BMW X5 xDrive50e at 10.6, or the Volvo XC90 at 8.9. However, the Range Rover Sport’s 82-km electric-only range is impressive compared to the 63 km from the BMW, 53 km for the Volvo, and just 27 km for the Porsche.
Value is relative at this end of the scale, and with a pre-tax starting price of $125,000, it’s considerably more than its plug-in rivals. Closest is the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid at $107,650, while the BMW X5 xDrive50e starts at $92,980, and the Volvo XC90 Recharge has three trims ranging from $84,965 to $95,865 (all prices including destination). But for that extra cash, you’re getting a considerably longer electric-only range, an interior that’s generally more luxurious, and a niche badge.
You could also spend another $28,000 and move up to the PHEV of the larger Range Rover, but there’s something about the smaller Range Rover Sport’s more-manoeuvrable footprint and strong performance that makes it more appealing. This new-for-2023 makeover really suits this luxurious and pluggable vehicle.
|Peak Horsepower||434 hp @ 5,500 rpm|
|Peak Torque||457 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||12.4 / 10.0 / 11.3 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||645 / 1,492 L seats up/down|
|Model Tested||2023 Range Rover Sport P440e PHEV SV-Dynamic HSE|
|Price as Tested||$139,226|
$14,126 – Varesine Blue paint, $950; Hot Climate Pack (four-zone climate control, cabin air purification, front console refrigerator, twin-blade sun visors), $2,400; Premium Upgrade Interior Pack (full leather interior, illuminated sill plates, premium cabin lighting, SV floor mats), $2,100; Wi-Fi with data plan, $360; 22-inch diamond-turned satin grey wheels, $800; 22-inch full-size spare, $650; Black Pack, $800; Heated windshield, $450; Heated front washer jets, $100; Laminated front and side glass, $916; Domestic plug sockets, $150; Fog lights, $100; Pixel LED headlamps, $700; Black contrast roof, $900; Ebony suede-cloth headliner, $1,020; 22-way massaging front seats, $1,450; Locking wheel nuts, $225; Hand Over Pack key presentation, $55