I was getting coffee with my girlfriend the other day on Greenwich Ave, which is the ritzy street in the ritzy town of the same name where you’ll find all the ritzy stores and all the ritzy people. We sat for an hour as I counted more than a dozen Range Rovers parking or driving by us. Now, this isn’t my usual practice to avoid meaningful conversation. But I know I was about to drive a 2024 Range Rover Sport so I had Range Rover on my mind. There I realized my whole life has been preparing me for this moment.
There’s an old saying here in Fairfield County: “Over 30 and not working in finance? Unicorn.”
Fairfield County is one of the most affluent counties in the country because of these financial people. For decades, it’s been the preferred Pride Rock for bankers, stockbrokers, hedge funders, fund managers, managers of hedge funds, funders of funds, managers of funds of funds… you get the point. These are the people who buy Range Rovers. So much so, there should be another saying here: “Find yourself further than three feet from a Range Rover? You’re no longer in Fairfield County.”
[Ed note: I’m so grateful to Parker for taking this photo because, somehow, both of us ended up taking a lot of micro/close-up photos for the story and exactly one wide photo of the car. For some reason, all the photos supplied by Range Rover are of a red car and they were all shot on the desert planet Arrakis for some reason. – MH]
Everyone I know has one, had one, or has a story about their friend’s Range Rover that was super unreliable but still beloved anyway. When I was growing up, I knew kids in high school with Range Rovers; it wasn’t even unusual, that was just Lindsay.
They are everywhere, have always been here, and long after this blue marble burns into a dust bowl like Mars they will still be here.
I’ve personally never owned one, but I will admit that I do often say that one has a place in my perfect three-car garage.
Recently, I got to spend over 900 miles at the helm of the 2024 Range Rover Sport Dynamic SE with Autopian Publisher Matt Hardigree, driving from New York to Virginia and back with a stop in our nation’s capital. We encountered all types of roads and even a little snow.
Over the course of this trip, I learned why these are so popular and are truly great cars for those who buy Range Rover Sports.
What Is The Range Rover Sport Dynamic SE?
Putting the ridiculously long name aside, the Range Rover Sport is supposed to be the Range Rover made more for going fast than for going off-road, although it comes with all the standard Range Rover off-road gizmos. And don’t worry; they will remind you of its off-road lineage in the marketing materials and in the infotainment system (more on that later).
The “Dynamic SE” part is the Malcolm in the Middle of the Range Rover Sport line, and its powertrain is the just-right one with the famous JLR inline-six that produces 395 horsepower. After the SE is the PHEV Autobiography which combines an electric motor with the SE’s JLR six. This then leads to the halo model, the Range Rover Sport Autobiography SV, the only Sport with a V8. Side note: What does the Head of Marketing at Range Rover name their kids? William Battery Born To Silk Upon A Beautiful Day Reginald? The Dynamic SE’s engine is probably its best feature, and helps it do what it was always going to do: get around town and blast down highways.
Price: $101,150 as-tested
Engine: 3.0l Turbocharged and Supercharged 6 Cylinder Gas Engine
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drivetrain: All Wheel Drive
Horsepower: 395 horsepower at 5,500 rpm.
Torque: 406 lb.-ft. of torque at 2000 rpm.
Fuel Economy: 19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, 21 mpg combined.
Body Style: Five-door SUV
Curb Weight: 5,240 pounds
How Does It Drive?
From the moment Matt handed me the keys, I set off without even adjusting my seat. It was everything I’ve come to expect from Range Rovers – smooth. From the first turn of the wheel, it feels like the steering version of your finger on a MacBook touchpad. I turned to Matt and said these are so damn good.
Then as you accelerate the first time onto a road with a speed limit over 35 mph, it does something very few vehicles do – it simply propels you forward. No build-up, no lurches, or spooling. It is far more akin to an electric car in its velvety propulsion but with one big difference.
There is noise! Although fairly muted even in sport mode above 5000 RPM (I believe there is a sport exhaust for that). There is enough noise to let you know that this thing runs on that sweet, sweet internal combustion and not a bed of electrons.
Many of our miles were spent on the highway where it’s at home. I know this because after my first three hours, I realized it was more mentally taxing to change my seating position than to drive the actual car.
The brakes are as you’d expect – figured out. And in the corners? For being over 5000 lbs, it’s quick-witted, planted, and gives you enough feedback to give you confirmation it’s ok to chuck into a corner with too much speed because you won’t die. It’s like an NFL lineman. Their size and girth make you think they are un-athletic couch rots, but then they do the 40-yard dash faster than you can say Range Rover Dynamic SE. That’s the Range Rover Sport.
How Does It Look?
Stunning. Easily one of the most elegant, thought-out, and fluid bodies in all of SUV-land in 2024. A mix of old box classic Range Rover with minimalist features.
Not wanting to ruin its lines, the door handles actually go neatly into the door. I know many cars have this, but I think it speaks to modernizing the same Range Rover look. It also offers a chance to be creative, since every single human being that decides to ride with you will ask when they get to the door “how do I get in?” So if you buy one make sure to have a nice repertoire of one-liners to impress them.
Then again, it’s not shocking you’d have many new people around all the time; you own a Range Rover Sport Dynamic SE.
How’s The Interior?
A clash of the classic Range Rover comforts (Like the movable armrest on the seats with the twist lock) with new-age design and materials. Most surfaces you touch are the soft leather you’d recognize, but on the door panels, there is a scratchy, modern cloth material that is a hint of stepping away from what used to be defined as luxury for a more minimalist approach. Which, as a Millennial, I appreciate.
Then on the dash, I noticed something. The material here wasn’t leather but some modern synthetic, that was more Lululemon than Lands End. Turns out this is JLR’s new “sustainable UltrafabricsTM.” I then touched it many times. I liked it.
The door handles are hidden and far too low on the door making getting out for anyone new kind of awkward. You can see what I mean in this video, wherein I catch my girlfriend Shannon trying to exit after a nap on the drive home.
The front seats are an unbelievably nice place to be and the rear seats are pleasant and seem to offer enough space for any human being. The rear cargo area looks like it can fit lots of stuff and Matt and I shoved a bunch of luggage and a grocery bag full of Bugles in there.
[Ed note: Parker had somehow never had a Bugle before? These are not, I suppose, popular in the tony Connecticut neighborhoods where he grew up so, honestly, the most taxing part of the trip was trying to get the Bugles to fit on our fingers. – MH]
How Well Does The Tech Work?
This is where it all goes wrong for me with the latest iteration of Range Rover. Let’s start with the infotainment system. It’s Range Rover’s much-maligned Pivi system that the brand claims is more intuitive. It’s not. I’m sorry, but even after several days in I still fumbled around the different interfaces looking for the cooling seat function. I never was able to remember where the volume was, and even getting back to Apple Carplay was a journey in digital dead-ends.
The screen you will find yourself fumbling with is the modern just-slap-a-big-ass-screen-on-the-dash style that I don’t like, but I get it’s trendy. The speedometer and tach screen are a bit more inset, but it still looks like they built the car then realized people probably need information about er, you know, the car.
Just below this screen is a nice rubber ledge that many luxury cars have now with wireless charging. Unfortunately, this also doubled as an internal heater, since every phone that used it would get so hot that the phone would have to shut down (Seriously, Matt had to hold his phone out the window to cool it down and I needed to put mine in the air vent).
This brings us to the driver assist functions. It has the latest in adaptive cruise control and lane assist and it’s all great except for one minor problem. It’s terrible. To be fair, the adaptive cruise control is acceptable although it can suddenly accelerate after braking for a car ahead. But it’s the lane assist that is dreadful.
I am a professional race car driver, so I tend to actually like to drive. But I really do appreciate adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist on long highway drives. To me, they can act like bumpers on a bowling alley, just helping you go along your desired direction safely. That is not the case with this lane assist because it becomes a battle of wit and force between you and the car.
First off, it does the thing that Teslas do which is it wants to be on the right side of a lane because I suppose it’s following the line. This means it doesn’t want to apex corners, and it gets super close to anyone in a lane to your right. Which then freaks out your passengers and other cars.
So then when you try to apex a corner, it literally fights you. The wheel is almost rigid and it becomes a physical fight between you and a computer that it almost always will win. Until you turn it off because it’s more tiring with it than without it.
For reference, some of the best lane assists I’ve driven lately are Toyota’s. The Toyota system loves to be directly in the middle of the lane and will gently correct you away from the lines between lanes. It also won’t fight you until it realizes you are doing something really dumb. That’s true assistance; what Range Rover has feels like a grumpy parent telling their kid to eat broccoli or they can’t leave the table. It’s the Range Rover way or you’re on your own!
One Great Tech Thing:
I mentioned that they like to remind you of the Range Rovers off-road lineage. Well, this does come in handy when you can sort through the Pivi system and find the off-road controls, where you will find the air suspension with adjustable ride height. This is especially handy after a full day of filming in the cold when you pull into your DC hotel parking garage and it says the max height is 6 feet.
As I sat for a second thinking, what do we do? Matt then says, “Wait, it’s a Range Rover! They have adjustable suspension.” After a minute, he was able to find the screen that showed our car was in the normal setting at 5’ 11”, so we pressed it lower. This got us to 5’ 9”, which was the first time in my life I was ecstatic to be shorter.
We were able to slowly move through what had to be the most claustrophobic parking garage ever. We parked the car and both laughed how handy that feature was, until we realized we were at the wrong hotel. Well, at least this test was thorough!
[Ed note: I was so hungry and so tired at this point. We were out of Bugles and I was almost out of patience. The thought of having to load the car back up when I knew that dinner and a beer was waiting for me was quite tough. – MH]
Does The Range Rover Dynamic SE Fulfill its Purpose?
If you’re reading this, you like cars. So, without a doubt, you’ve played the game “Perfect Three-Car Garage” in a dream world where you can afford three cars where one of them isn’t a clapped-out Pontiac Fiero. If one of those isn’t a Range Rover, you’re probably not thinking right.
Although there are many options in this class of vehicle, they all are a different take on the Range Rover Sport – much like late-night shows, which all stem from The Tonight Show. Sure, you may like one more than the other, but if you want the original, watch The Tonight Show.
I suppose you may also be in an area that is filled with these; in which case, I can understand looking at a Cayenne or Audi, etc. But if you’re being honest with yourself, you should get the Range Rover.
It’s the perfect Range Rover for people who want Range Rovers, which is basically anyone who has experienced a Range Rover.
Image credit: Range Rover, except where noted
Parker Kligerman is a TV host, NBC Sports reporter, full-time driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and co-host of The Money Lap motorsports podcast. His favorite racing movie is Sylvester Stallone’s “Driven” and his favorite Porsche is his personal 996 911.