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Cars of Summer: Day Tripping in the Range Rover Sport Supercharged

For most people, summer is driving season. AAA estimates that 35 million people will hit the road this Fourth of July weekend. Even if you're not heading out with the crowds, summer means day trips, road trips, drives to the beach, festivals, fairs, visiting friends and commuting in the bright sunshine. This summer, U.S. News is putting the cars we test through their summer paces and giving you tips and advice for making the most of your summer driving. First up: the Land Rover Range Rover Sport goes day tripping around the Lakes and Seacoast regions of New Hampshire

Drivers will love the 2011 Range Rover Sport Supercharged, but passengers might get bored.

I’d like to buy a 2011 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Supercharged, but in order to afford the $76,000 price tag on the one I tested this week, I’d have to give up some things. Things like housing. That wouldn’t be so bad – the Range Rover Sport is nicer than any house I’ve lived in.

On a day trip to Wolfeboro, N.H. (where politicos like Mitt Romney and Nicolas Sarkozy vacation), the Sport fit right in. It was equally at home in the old-money environs of the New Hampshire Seacoast. While I had been hoping for a convertible to make these trips, it was rainy and cold, so I was glad to have a fixed roof, heated seats and a heated steering wheel. On pavement, the Sport was an incredibly rewarding SUV to drive. Ample power and agile handling made it feel like a sport sedan, but on muddy and rutted roads, the Rover never lost a step. Then again, if it had, it wouldn’t be a Range Rover.

The drink chiller wasn't tall enough for water bottles to stand upright.

While I was having a great time driving, the Sport’s limited entertainment options left my husband Chris bored. Though the Sport had a dedicated iPod port, the correct cable wasn’t included in the test vehicle. Using a regular iPod USB cable and the Sport’s USB port, the Rover wouldn’t recognize my iPhone as a music player, even when it was in airplane mode. The navigation system was slow and only allowed us to search for restaurants and grocery stores, not ATMs, hospitals, pharmacies and shopping centers, as most systems do. A drink chiller in the center console was nice to have, but it could barely fit two 16.9-ounce bottles of water. Maybe it was meant for Perrier-size bottles.

With two water battles in the drink chiller, the lid didn't fully close.

If you’re driving the Range Rover Sport, you likely won’t care about those shortcomings. Driving it was so much fun that I wanted nothing more than to take it on an extended road trip. But its infotainment hiccups meant that would be one trip I’d have to make by myself.

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