We test the new mild hybrid powertrain that helps keep the Range Rover Sport fresh
Woe is you; the Range Rover Sport captivates, but sifting through six engine options intimidates. Well, MotorTrend is here to help. Adding to our extensive experience reviewing Range Rover Sports, we recently spent time in a near-400-hp mild hybrid model that surprised at the test track. With the 2020 Range Rover Sport lineup offering everything from a relatively frugal diesel and plug-in hybrid to an absurd 575-hp V-8, where do the new P360 and P400 mild hybrid six-cylinder models fit in?
Realizing that even non-greenies can appreciate SUVs that go longer between fill-ups, Land Rover expands its Range Rover and Range Rover Sport lineup with P360 and P400 mild hybrids (the latter only available in the HST trim). With a turbocharged inline-six supplemented by electric boost, the powertrain is mated to an eight-speed automatic and is good for 355 and 395 hp, respectively. Just as important, the system’s peak torque comes at just 2,000 rpm (365 lb-ft for the P360 and 406 for the P400).
At The Track And On The Road
On the road, the eight-speed automatic makes more of an impression than the mild hybrid powertrain’s subtle effects. The SUV’s transmission occasionally delivers lumpy shifts in stop-and-go traffic—coming to a halt at a stop sign smoothly and gradually is slightly more difficult than it should be. On the road, the engine is responsive to moderate and full-throttle blasts. In MotorTrend track testing, the 2020 Range Rover Sport HST’s performance numbers are impressive or disappointing, depending on your expectations for a large and off-road-capable Range Rover-branded SUV.
Acceleration to 60 mph took just 6.2 seconds, not bad for a 5,347-pound SUV … but also not great. At the track, road test editor Chris Walton noted the SUV’s subdued engine noise and said it was “quicker than I had imagined.” But buyers who cross-shop the Range Rover Sport with other brands will find noticeably quicker acceleration elsewhere. Take the BMW X5. A 2020 SUV of the Year finalist, the X5’s six- and eight-cylinder non-hybrid models smoke the Range Rover Sport HST (X5 xDrive40i in 5.0 seconds and the xDrive50i in 4.5 seconds). Let’s be honest, though: If you wanted to drag race your luxury SUV, you’d have bought the 575-hp Range Rover Sport SVR. Like the SVR model, the HST model’s panic-braking performance was an unexpected strength.
The Range Rover Sport’s best braking performance from 60 to 0 mph was 113 feet, and Walton complimented the SUV’s remarkably flat body motions as well as its reasonable fade resistance after completing the test multiple times. That 113-foot figure beats the best efforts of the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE (119 and 115 feet, respectively) but comes up short compared to a 2017 Maserati Levante’s 105-foot stop. A couple editors—including testing director Kim Reynolds—commented on the Range Rover Sport’s slightly mushy brake pedal.
Reynolds experienced the brakes on the MotorTrend figure-eight course, which uniquely tests a car’s braking, acceleration, and handling, as well as the transitions in between. Again, how you perceive the 395-hp Range Rover Sport HST’s performance may hinge on whether a Range Rover has always had a reserved spot in your fantasy garage. The HST completed the test in 27.1 seconds at 0.65 g (average), not far behind the less powerful Mercedes GLE 450, but well behind the pace set by the BMW X5 and Maserati Levante. In the Range Rover Sport’s sportiest drive mode, shifts come quick, and Reynolds appreciated that its body motions were well controlled. When not driven at the limit, you’ll always feel the Range Rover Sport’s heft—which makes sense. You drive a Range Rover Sport instead of the sleeker Velar because of the larger SUV’s presence. More traditional than the Velar but less stodgy than the actual Range Rover, the Range Rover Sport won’t delight buyers with the sportiest responses in its class (and that’s fine).
Take A Look Inside
Inside, the most delightful cabin surprises are the hidden storage compartments. On both front doors—behind attractive carbon-fiber trim on our test SUV—is a slim but long compartment that’s perfect for keys, lip balm, eye drops, or other knickknacks. Slide the two cupholders toward the dash to reveal a deep storage area. The space is awkwardly off-center compared to where the cupholders are, but this is still a win. Best of all for drivers who use corded radar detectors on road trips, the upper glove compartment has a power outlet and a “slightly open but you can’t really tell” mode, so the cord doesn’t stretch to the bottom of the dash as it does with some other cars.
Speaking of road trips, the most wonderful part of ours was the Range Rover Sport HST’s compliant ride. You won’t mistake the Range Rover Sport for a cushy luxury car, but its ride was better than expected for an SUV rolling on 22-inch wheels. Road noise at highway speeds was acceptable, which also describes the rear seat and cargo area. The comfortable rear seat has a nearly flat floor to increase the impression of space, and an easy-to-use backrest recline lever. The cargo area’s load floor is a little too high and there’s no way to fold down the rear seats from back there, but the 27.5 cubic feet of space is respectable. Most compact crossovers and the BMW X5 have more space, but exactly 0 percent of those SUVs have Range Rover badges.
You’re probably wondering how that dual-screen infotainment system works, and the answer is, “not bad.” It’s actually a tri-screen system if you count the digital instrument cluster, which flexibly shows a number of different layouts. I prefer my infotainment screens as high up on the dash as possible, but the Range Rover Sport’s approach does allow for a more commanding view of the road ahead. You won’t be watching the road, however, when you frustratingly fumble for the small recirculated-air button located on the lower touchscreen.
Where the dual-screen layout also falls behind cars with good old-fashioned knobs is if you want to increase the air. As with Audi’s latest cars and SUVs, this dual-screen layout will dazzle in the showroom, but we encourage buyers to mess with it a bit before signing on the dotted line. On the plus side, Apple CarPlay’s multi-info layout displays nicely on the higher, wide screen. It’s a helpful advantage for when you’re relying on directions while your front passenger, who clearly has inferior music tastes, simultaneously wants access to the on-screen button that moves to the next song.
Fuel Economy And Impressive Driving Range
One bladder-busting strength of this mild hybrid is its staggering highway driving range of nearly 700 miles. Thanks to an enormous 27.6-gallon gas tank shared with less efficient Range Rover Sports, this mild hybrid’s 19/25 mpg city/highway will take you farther. The plug-in hybrid model is worth considering, but its 19-mile electric range before the gas engine kicks in may be outweighed by the loss of nearly 3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. That also leaves the compelling diesel. We liked the 2016 Range Rover Sport diesel we drove for a year except for the high service costs and a couple reliability issues.
If it were my money, I’d strongly consider the P360 version of this new mild hybrid powertrain. As a luxury cruiser to travel across town or country, the Range Rover Sport with the 3.0-liter inline-six mild hybrid would likely provide all the power I need—I’d just need to determine whether I can live with the $9,000 less expensive HSE. In any case, the P400 misses out on the bragging rights of 400 hp by that much.
As for the P360, it lacks the red brake calipers, HST badging, and a couple other features that distinguish the 395-hp HST from the 355-hp SE and HSE P360 models. It’s stupid, but those details add to the emotional appeal that’s precisely what draws consumers to buy Range Rovers in the first place.
That’s true in a different way for Maseratis, too. If you can stomach the sight of Fiat-Chrysler switchgear in your six-figure Italian SUV (I can’t), consider the Levante. It’s hard to compare an SUV with the inimitable appeal of a Range Rover Sport to anything, but the mainstream alternative I’d probably buy instead is a loaded BMW X5. All X5s we’ve tested have been quicker and felt more nimble than the Range Rover Sport HST, and BMW would be happy to load its SUV with all kinds of luxurious options, for less than our $107,360 Range Rover Sport HST tester.
But if you’re set on the Range Rover Sport, know that the new P360 and P400 mild hybrid six-cylinder engines strike at the sweet spot of the expansive lineup. It’s not a perfect package, but the two models are more efficient than the supercharged V-6s they replace, meaning Range Rover is moving in the right direction. So there you have it. You want the best of the Range Rover Sport lineup? Try the P360 mild hybrid as a daily driver or, if you’ve gone a bit insane, maybe the 575-hp SVR.