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I travel the redwood highway during this time of year and have rented several vehicles and this time chose the 2018 Range Rover Sport SE for a week. Briefly, the front is an improvement or updated grille and added LED headlights. Not bad for a SE. The rear taillights though reminded me of a Ford crossover SUV due to clear touches on the turn signals. The only drawback of the LED headlights are, it wasn’t very bright enough to light up the redwoods at night. Compared to the previous generation’s HID which was brighter, it needs more light! Interior wise, it came with the dash, headunit and HVAC taken from the Velar design. It is very modern, touch screen is very responsive, no haptic sensation compared to the Cadillac ESCALADE’s CUE but functional nonetheless.

For a SE model it comes close to fully loaded. It has navigation standard, xm, radio channels and also from your iPhone music or streaming from your iPhone whichever you would prefer. The seats looked like MBtex of Mercedes but it felt soft and real. Sitting on it provided enough softness and cushion for my long 5 hour travel that I was about to embark and throughout the trip provided enough cushion that it can be a highway cruiser. Legroom and headroom was adequate. It came with a none opening panoramic roof but the sunscreen cover provided enough shade I don’t think you will need more sunscreen. Visibility was good all throughout that though it didn’t have 360 degree camera like the upper models the rear camera and front sensors were adequate. I’m used to the 360 camera of my Cadillac Escalade and previous generation L320 Range Rover Sport. I liked hard buttons from previous Range Rover products but this modern Velar touches is very clean clear and widescreen nav is possible. It is hard to know if your fuel is full or half empty as it is horizontally laid out. I would prefer the vertical bottle design. Controls are typical Range Rover. The steering adjustment control is on the right now compared to the previous design on the left. I’m used to the wiper controls of the Range Rover product so i didn’t find it obtrusive. The mileage calculator, miles to empty, eco stats is still accessible by pressing the left stalk button and it will cycle the numbers.

After a few minutes on the road, it felt smooth and reactive to the roads. It swallows bumps like a Mercedes Benz GLS SUV. True enough the air suspension is standard. The terrain icons is missing on the console except for the hill descent and up and down height of the vehicle. Everything is displayed in the huge lower screen instead. First time driving this design, you will get used to it on the fly. As you know the redwood forest highway is a curvy undulating road. At speed and really high speed the missing dynamic suspension software of the SE is lacking. The tall tires added to it but the Pirellis didn’t scream for help or maybe I wasn’t fast enough? Sport mode manual shift helped in tackling the curved and oh this engine is high revving glory! The exhaust doesn’t have the SVR or the Fpace crackle and pop even I tried to downshift it. I think JLR tuned it for everybody not just the driver/enthusiast. Going back to the highway cruiser term, it is very quiet that the long drive seemed very joyous and entertaining.

It is a complete and reasonably package. I would definitely choose it for exclusivity and value at the same time. Power is more than adequate. Rowing the gear shifter added more drama to the experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
More pics!
 

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4x4 off course?
 

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The drink?
 

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After driving this rig for a week, I have new fondness of the redesigned L494. I thought the acceleration of the SC V6(!) would be insufficient for my drive to the mountains, I was impressed by the acceleration. The numbers might not have the straight line strength of its 5.0 L SC V8 brethren, but it surely impressed me. Power was just right. The handling in the curves showed stability and confidence. It came standard with pirelli scorpion verde and these tires gripped so well no screeching or tire strain was seen despite flogging through the curves. I might get this tire next time for my escalade, RRS and Mercedes. That’s the thing about the Land Rover’s air suspension, it just swallows the ruts, potholes and the long travel help as I was tackling the undulating pavement of CA 101. With a few touches as an option: 360 cameras, dynamic suspension option(that’s it!), I think it would be a best seller. The fun factor of the drive was so great that I forgot the need for coffee beans and the ACC on my 5 hour 15 minute drive from Eureka, CA to Marriott Airport at Bayshore near SFO. It actually came to 4 hours 15 minutes. What a blast! Maybe next time I’ll try the L405 or the F-pace. It’s a good drive that it compares to driving the Autostrada from Italy to France.
 
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