The big, competent Range Rover just gets better
Land Rover is one of the few iconic brands that has been able to maintain a lofty status and fierce customer loyalty despite changing ownership three times in the last two decades. And although the smaller, entry level models have experienced a misstep or two until the new Evoque arrived, the big Range Rover has retained Land Rover’s magic.
When a vehicle model is vitally important to a brand, designers and engineers are faced with an interesting dilemma when it’s time for the all-new version. They have to bring it completely up-to-date, yet not skew too far for fear of offending faithful buyers. Add to that challenge the task of balancing off-road prowess with stoic luxury.
Chief designer Gerry McGovern was well aware of the challenge when he penned the new body style. He and his team had plenty of latitude with the smaller Evoque and the results are quite dramatic. The new Range Rover design takes a subtle path, yet breaks out of the box with a much more aerodynamic and slightly sloping rear roofline. So it’s instantly recognizable as a Range Rover, yet contemporary enough to last another decade or so.
While the new styling may not be dramatic, the Range Rover bones have changed substantially. The truck-like body over frame steel construction is now aluminum, shedding 700 pounds of weight while improving rigidity and lowering the center of gravity. The handling dynamics both on and off road have improved, yet there’s still that uncanny feeling of luxurious substance behind the nicely upholstered wheel.
The lighter weight has also contributed to a more spirited performance. Sprints to highway speed with our supercharged model take just 5.1 seconds, with the 510-horsepower directed through a silky eight-speed transmission. And the new, slippery aerodynamics create a quiet interior for the optional Meridian sound system to entertain passengers.
Even though most Range Rover buyers won’t travel far off road, they want assurance that this isn’t just another tall wagon to haul people and stuff. So the Land Rover factory crew allowed reviewers to take to the steep hills and do some serious rock crawling. With Range Rover’s intelligent all-wheel-drive, selectable Terrain Response, and air suspension height adjustment, even novice drivers can challenge rugged trails with confidence.
Range Rover’s new model lineup begins with a nicely equipped standard model with a base price of $83,500. The HSE adds more luxury gear and another $5,000 to the window sticker. The Supercharged version adds even more luxury and vivacious power for $99,950, and if that’s not enough, an Autobiography model tops the line at $130,950. And if you feel like royalty when you’re cosseted inside the plush cabin, it’s because Range Rovers are what the Queen most often chooses for travel to the countryside. Brian Douglas
Photography by Brian Douglas