Range Rover Sport
If you haven’t been behind the wheel of the brand’s North American top-selling model, the Range Rover Sport, you may be missing out on the sheer power and hyperagility that come standard. It’s the little sibling to the larger Range Rover in size and sticker price, sure, but “little” is relative when it comes to the Range Rover Sport, redesigned in 2014 (MSRP $63,495). The Sport has an intentional cockpit feel in the interior front, athletic lines, including a floating roof line, and sits lower than the original RR, but even while maintaining a different character from both the Range Rover and the smaller Evoque, it’s unmistakably a formidable Rover in body and spirit. The accolades roll in: Best in Class for off-roading capability, when in comes to wind and road noise; the stylish new addition of a full-size panoramic roof…
Today, it’s time to test the Sport’s mettle and various features along the sweeping roads of Northern Cali’s Silicon Valley, including use of the Queue Assist, which slows and stops the car when approaching stopped traffic. Inside the five-seater—which has an additional two kid-sized “secret” seats that fold flat into the floor—the seats are heated, the Meridian 3D Sound System is revving up and it’s time to head out in the cool air. The scenery flies by as a convoy of vehicles makes its way around winding corners, but it’s when we arrive at a private ranch owned by a Rover aficionado that the real fun begins. The mud-logged terrain is an off-roader’s dream, and the routes laid out test the Sport’s hill descent, traction and gradient control. Hours later, covered in mud and triumphant, the Range Rover Sport is parked. As usual, job well done (19 combined mpg).
Don’t call it a comeback! Once a household name before being hemmed in by flashier competitors, the Subaru Outback is making a renewed bid for the spotlight some two decades after its launch. Reliability may be an oft-overlooked virtue, but in a vehicle, it heads the checklist—and here the Outback continues to prove its worth. While it is well known for both on-the-road stability and off-road capabilities, sharp-eyed followers of the brand will notice that the current Outback has dressed up a little more than usual for the current party. While the exterior has not undergone any major changes of late, the interior wood grain additions and enhanced space ensure that while the Outback may be more visually retiring than many of its competitors, these touches combine well with the unbeatable price tag (MSRP $23,495) and outstanding fuel economy (24 city, 30 highway mpg). Also on board are such techie offerings as a voice-commanded seven-inch-screen
–Kym Allison Backer