Editor's Picks, Foreign Cars, General Chat, Land Rover Ranger Rover Sport, New Cars, United States

The Range Rover Sport HST Hits the Sweet Spot – The CarGurus Blog


Land Rover needs little introduction to the luxury-shopping community. The famed British company owns nearly exclusive rights to the top of the luxury SUV mountain—at least for those with their eyes set below the two-hundred-thousand-and-up club dominated by Rolls-Royce and Bentley. The flagship, full-size Range Rover remains Land Rover’s crown jewel. However, the smaller Range Rover Sport model remains the best-selling Land Rover in the United States. 

Plenty of Power, Plenty of Posh

Like most vehicles in the Land Rover stable, the Range Rover Sport comes in a wide variety of trims. And before we start talking about “value,” it’s worth noting: All Land Rovers are expensive. At the bottom of the totem pole lives the SE, with prices starting at $68,650. There’s the HSE above that, starting at $74,250, and the fire-breathing SVR at the top of the pile, coming in at $114,500. Shoppers can choose among a range of engines—gasoline, diesel, and hybrid plug-in—although 4WD comes standard (this is a Land Rover, after all). 

Tucked away in the upper-middle section of the lineup lives the HST trim. Fitted with a spruced-up version of Land Rover’s homegrown Ingenium inline 6-cylinder engine, the HST delivers 395 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. Land Rover augments that power with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system designed to save gas and pump fewer emissions into the atmosphere. Starting price? A Goldilocks $82,950. 

The HST clearly delivers the goods under the hood. Maybe it manages that a bit less excitingly than an SVR, but it certainly does it with more decorum. Inside the cabin, it’s all Range Rover, too. Red leather upholstery covers the dash, and interspersed black swaths add a racy flavor that will almost certainly appeal to Land Rover’s celebrity customers. 

High-Tech Touches

A premium Meridian sound system delivers crisp sound, and your tunes are easily managed whether you opt to use Land Rover’s infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, or Android Auto.  The dual-screen setup in the Range Rover Sport takes barely a minute to learn, and after a week of driving, we thoroughly preferred it to many competitors’ single-screen designs. In particular, it was nice being able to use Android Auto’s Google Maps feature on the top screen while still managing our Spotify choices on the lower screen. 

Despite Land Rover’s reputation for technological troubles, our test car never faltered. The only annoyance came from Land Rover’s perplexing Adaptive Speed Limited. Rather than working like traditional cruise control, the default setting pegs the car at the posted speed limit. You can ask it to keep the speed a few miles per hour faster or slower than the road signs request, but it requires an extra step. 

A Bull in a China Shop

Despite its cultured cabin, there’s no getting around the Range Rover Sport’s size. While it doesn’t look particularly enormous sitting in a driveway, it feels positively massive on the road. Driving next to an Audi Q5, we found ourselves looking over and thinking, “What are they doing all the way down there?” Adjusting the Sport’s ride height to off-road mode only adds to this feeling. 

Further, the Range Rover Sport has a nearly inexcusably large turning radius. Yes, we know we’re talking about a genuine, off-road capable SUV here. But at more than 20 feet, it’s significantly wider than a Toyota 4Runner’s. It was exhausting to wrangle this car through the narrow streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts. You’d think an iconic British brand would know the merits of a nimble steering rack. 

Regardless, the Land Rover badge still stands for something. Namely: luxury and capability. The Range Rover Sport’s HST trim fulfills those requirements at a (by Land Rover standards) reasonable price. Choose your options judiciously, and an HST can deliver everything you want out of a luxury SUV. 

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Editor's Picks, Foreign Cars, fun to drive, General Chat, Infiniti, New Cars, United States

With the 2020 Infiniti Q50, Style Comes Standard – The CarGurus Blog


The 2020 Infiniti Q50 looks brilliant. So why do auto-industry doomsayers insist it belongs to a dying breed of sport sedans? Well, while BMW and Mercedes may still pepper your commercial breaks with enticing deals on the 3 Series and C-Class, you’re even more likely to see those brands selling their crossovers. After all, there’s plenty more money to be had building SUVs (even if there’s plenty more fun available behind the wheel of a sedan). 

This reality is especially evident when looking at Infiniti’s current lineup of vehicles. While the car du jour may very well be the company’s most exciting model, it’s clear that a disproportionate amount of time and effort has gone into updating crossovers instead. So, with less attention being paid to it by Infiniti and fewer dollars being spent on it by shoppers, who is best served buying a Q50? And who should consider the sport sedan’s top-tier Red Sport 400 AWD trim? 

Undeniable Good Looks

Well, this makes things easy. Want an incredibly stylish sedan? Buy a 2020 Infiniti Q50. The sculpted fenders swallow our car’s 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. The gentle roll across the hood, peaking along the lines above the headlights, draws your eyes toward the length of the vehicle. And the character line within the side profile leaves you viewing the vehicle as a whole, rather than keying in on one specific detail. All-in-all, it cuts an impressive shape. While BMW and Mercedes may lean on their badges to instill awe, the Q50 thrives off of Infiniti’s relative obscurity. More than once, other drivers commented on my test car’s design, asking “Who makes that?” For the trend-setter and fashion-forward free-thinker, the Infiniti Q50 is a can’t-miss win. 

Inside, the Q50’s design is comfortable and accessible, although the infotainment system would benefit from a “less is more” approach. We got used to the two-screen setup quickly but would have preferred to have had our needs met by one display. 

And finally, it was nearly impossible to look at our test car and not commend its paint job. The Dynamic Sunstone paint catches the light beautifully. Unfortunately, it’s also exclusive to the expensive Red Sport 400 and Red Sport 400 AWD trims—and priced as an $800 option at that.

Making the Most of a Twin-Turbo V6 

Credit Infiniti for apparently eking out every last drop of performance from the Q50’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine. It makes 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque in the Q50 3.0t Pure, Luxe, and Sport trims, but a whopping 400 hp and 350 lb-ft in the Red Sport 400s. 

Generally, drivers with 300 horsepower on tap will consider their car to be fast. Tacking on 100 extra horses brings that estimation up to “very, very fast.” Heading up an onramp to the interstate, the Q50 Red Sport 400 will never need any additional freeway to get up to traffic’s pace. If anything, you’ll find yourself slowing down to merge. And with its 7-speed automatic transmission (no CVT in this car, thank goodness), the Q50 handles its power with ease. Just keep it in Sport mode. Doing so won’t hamper the car’s drivability on congested roads, and the Eco mode features an “Eco Pedal” that noticeably kicks back against your right foot when it feels you should be easing off the gas. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste, but we never acquired it. 

Sadly, this doesn’t sound like a 400-horsepower car, even if it feels like one. While a Genesis G70 3.3T will roar, this one always sounded a little wheezy. Surely it wouldn’t have been too challenging for Infiniti to grab an engineer and ask them to tweak the exhaust note? 

How Much Would You Like to Pay? 

Did you know that Nissan—Infiniti’s parent company—offers one of the industry’s best advanced safety packages? Nissan ProPilot Assist won’t turn your Rogue into a self-driving car, but it will come nearly as close as any of its competitors.  

With this in mind, imagine our surprise when we discovered our top-tier Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD’s $58,075 starting price doesn’t include Infiniti’s version of ProPilot. The Infiniti ProActive package does include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and other advanced safety technologies, but it also costs an additional $2,700.  

And that’s a major part of the Q50’s story. The 3.0t Pure trim offers a starting MSRP of $36,400, which sounds great. But asking for the 400 Red Sport will increase that MSRP by nearly 50%. So, who’s the Q50 best suited for? Well, despite the 400 Red Sport’s brilliant acceleration and stunning paint, its cost is a bit hard to stomach. The shoppers most likely to be satisfied by a Q50 are the trend-setters, the fashion trailblazers. Spend your money on the interior and the safety technology, and leave the 400 horses in the barn. In the Q50, looking good needs to be your number one priority.  

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Editor's Picks, Foreign Cars, fun to drive, General Chat, Jaguar, New Cars, svr, United States

The Jaguar F-PACE SVR: A Modern-Day Supercar – The CarGurus Blog


Let’s be perfectly clear: The 380-horsepower Jaguar F-PACE S has always been a fast SUV. Its supercharged V6 roars to life and will make the uninitiated’s hair stand on end. On this point, there is little argument.

The trouble is, performance SUVs like the BMW X5 M, Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, and Porsche Cayenne Turbo redefined what shoppers can expect from a high-riding crossover, and Jaguar, a company with a long history in performance and racing, simply couldn’t compete with those rocket ships.

Don’t Wake the Neighbors

Luckily, in a true Cinderella story, Jaguar’s supercharged V8 is a perfect fit for the F-PACE’s engine bay. It’s with this engine that the F-PACE evolves from a fast, premium luxury crossover and heads toward supercar territory.

The 2019 Jaguar F-PACE SVR isn’t necessarily the best choice for early risers living in quiet suburban hamlets. Sure, our test car’s Ultra Blue paint would look spectacular against a green, manicured lawn. But depress the brake and punch the ignition, and the birds will almost certainly leave their nest and your peaceful neighbors will likely be writing strongly worded letters to the homeowner’s association.

The F-PACE SVR is loud—loud is kind of Jaguar’s thing these days. But it also comes with a little party trick for those who can’t get enough of blasting through tunnels and revving in parking garages. On the center console between the driver and passenger seats, Jaguar has installed a button that opens a set of baffles in the exhaust tailpipe. Hit this button, and the SVR’s engine note grows from a subtle (but noticeable) growl to an outright bark. The residents of your bucolic neighborhood might not appreciate the noise, but you likely will.

Watch Out for That Speed Limit

Once you’re off and running, the party’s just begun. The SVR’s 5.0-liter V8 engine puts out 550 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque, distributed to all four wheels and managed by a quick 8-speed automatic transmission. It’s not quite as quick as some competitors—namely the Porsche Macan Turbo—but with Pirelli Scorpion all-season tires, it raced away from stoplights and tore through corners. Despite the car’s 4,395 pounds, it never felt top-heavy.

Certainly, the SVR benefits from a few additional
upgrades—at nearly $90,000, one would hope it comes with more than just a big
engine. 22-inch wheels handle the wide tires, and the massive brakes house
Jaguar’s electronic active differential, which helps the vehicle carve corners
by applying light braking to the inside wheel during turns. Unfortunately, like
a true supercar, it also chugged gas. Over 250 miles, we averaged 16.3 miles
per gallon of painfully expensive premium fuel.

Stop for Groceries

What truly makes the F-PACE special, however, is not its sound or its speed or its handling chops. It’s that it provides all of these supercar elements while still being up to the task of day-to-day life.

Typically, you’ll hear critics praise the Porsche 911 or the Audi R8 as “everyday supercars,” because they’re relatively comfortable and easy to drive, while also providing top-tier performance. But next to an F-PACE SVR, those cars are garage-queen exotics.

The F-PACE gives you all-wheel drive. It gives you ground clearance. It gives you 63.5 cubic feet of total cargo space. It just so happens to also give you face-melting acceleration and cellular-disrupting braking. Packaged in gorgeously designed sheet metal and complete with advanced safety and technology features, the F-PACE SVR is the new daily-driving supercar.

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Photos by Elliot Haney.

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