High End Living In Southern California

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What could be better for Southern California cruising than a brilliant white Range Rover Sport Supercharged? Green-shmeen, forget about fuel economy! Just listen to the roar of the engine when five hundred and ten supercharged horsepower come on song. Learn to play the exhaust note with your right foot – it’s a quiet cruiser, but gets serious when you do – and revel in this luxury SUV’s ability to power into just about any spot you choose.

Opening Up Doors
I was able to test-drive this high-end vehicle for a week when my family flew to the San Diego area for a combination of business and pleasure. It was quite an experience. For a mere $76,000, the Range Rover Sport can certainly open up doors – it did for us.

Here’s the story: After too many hotel breakfasts, I did a “Yelp” search for a nicer eatery. The Grand Del Mar, just a few miles north of San Diego, was recommended, so off we went – my wife, two teenage kids and me. It was Sunday morning, but we weren’t in our Sunday best. I had no idea that there’d be the equivalent of a maitre-d’ / bouncer at the Grand Del Mar guardhouse, keeping the riff-raff out.

Luckily, the Range Rover Sport was our ticket in. It was valet-parked right out front, next to a Porsche GT3 RS 4.0 and Maserati Gran Turismo Convertible. We felt like imposters, but our ride was perfectly at home. (By the way, our breakfast was delicious, but ran into three figures – such is the Range Rover lifestyle.)

Performance? Plenty
But back to the joys of piloting this 5,800-pound luxury/performance SUV. Acceleration was never an issue, whether from a standstill or merging onto a high-speed freeway. Handling was also surprisingly responsive, especially with the Terrain Response system in Dynamic Mode. Brakes? 15-inch front rotors and 14.3-inch rears with Brembo calipers were definitely up to the task.

Accommodations? Inviting
And then there’s the interior. Two-tone ivory-and-black leather with carbon-fiber trim was truly au courant. Beyond the gorgeous design, however, the quality of materials really stood out, and made that $76k price tag seem reasonable. The leather on the steering wheel, for instance, was glove-soft. And the brightwork around the center-console controls looked and felt nickel-plated.

Range Rover Sport technology was also appreciated. The navigation system’s real-time traffic updates helped us avoid some serious California tie-ups, and the Harman Kardon audio system was sublime. Turn up “I Love LA,” and sing along!

Limitations: Some
Is the Range Rover Sport everyone’s cup of tea? Of course not. I averaged 13.7 mpg on the first tank and a more respectable 16.2 mpg on the second – not bad considering the power and luxury of this beast, but still a bit shocking. If you can’t afford the gas, I guess you probably can’t afford the vehicle either. Ah well.

While it swallowed all of our luggage and other flotsam and jetsam that we acquired in our travels, my only real product complaint was the surprisingly tight rear headroom – my 6’ 2” son couldn’t grow much taller and still fit.

Quibbles: Darned Few
But none of these quibbles really matter when you’re California cruising in a Range Rover Sport Supercharged. You’ve got power, luxury, presence, and of course, the unique Land Rover heritage of go-anywhere capability – I couldn’t help but notice the old Range Rover vehicles used as props at San Diego’s Safari Park. Other luxury SUVs have a hard time matching that combination of capability and panache.

For those fortunate enough to have a fleet of vehicles to their name – family hauler, weekend sports car, and all-around do-anything-in-style SUV – the Range Rover Sport Supercharged is hard to beat.

When my first novel becomes a best-seller, I’ll give it serious consideration.

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