Best New Luxury SUVIn the face of stiff competition, the 2006 Land Rover Range Rover Sport received our unanimous vote as the Best new luxury suv of 2006. As capable off-road as any Land Rover before it, but endowed with the handling and performance of a sport sedan, and equipped with the upscale features luxury buyers demand, the Range Rover Sport provides the best of all worlds to those who can afford to spend between $55,000 and $75,000 on one vehicle that does it all.
Based on the Land Rover LR3’s capable chassis but equipped with the V8 engines that power the range-topping Range Rover, the new Range Rover Sport is smaller than both of its parts donors and is designed to be a performance SUV on a wide variety of terrain. Standard on the HSE model is a 300-horsepower, 4.4-liter V8 engine, while the Supercharged edition receives a force-fed 4.2-liter V8 making 400 horsepower. All-wheel drive, combined with Terrain Response and stability control, riding on wheels as large as 20 inches in diameter, make the Range Rover Sport adept in a wide variety of conditions. On pavement, the Supercharged model is quick but not outright fast due to a hefty curb weight of 5,500 pounds.
Inside, the driver sits tall, and there’s plenty of space for four adults and a good bit of their luggage. As befits its premium price, interior materials are a step up from the LR3, and seating is comfortable front and rear on lovely leather upholstery. Flop the rear seats down, and you’ve got 71 cubic feet of cargo space to play with, almost as much as the bigger Range Rover.
Whether schlepping to the store, taking a client to dinner, battling a blizzard, or providing an entertaining drive on a favorite backroad, the 2006 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is the Best New luxury suv for 2006. – Christian J. Wardlaw