No matter how adept a sport utility vehicle is at climbing rocks, fording streams, or tackling wild terrain, most of its life will be spent on hard pavement accomplishing the chores of everyday life. For that reason the all-new new fourth-generation Range Rover (only the fourth complete redesign in 43 years) has taken the upscale suburban driving experience to a new level. It’s one honey of a luxury SUV.
After spending time with the 2013 version of Land Rover’s flagship, we concluded it’s as accomplished as any luxury vehicle at pampering its occupants with cutting-edge features including scrumptious leather from Scotland, a comfortable ride thanks to a new aluminum air suspension system, stretch-out room for rear-seat passengers (nearly five inches more than the last generation), and performance and driving dynamics from two V8 engines.
The luxury-like feel comes courtesy of Land Rover’s four-corner air suspension that features the company’s Adaptive Dynamics System that uses electronically variable dampers to deliver a sophisticated ride. This also yields to a reduction in body roll eliminating that tippy feeling and creating more confidence on winding roads. And the Range Rover can be raised up an additional 5.8 inches for demanding off-road driving.
While we experienced this SUV only on-road, one of our colleagues drove some rugged territory in Utah under the supervision of Land Rover off-road experts and reported that it has lost none of its extreme off-road capability; and, in fact, might be the best Land Rover ever at negotiating the toughest places in the world.
“How a vehicle can overcome the challenging terrain that is almost child’s play for Range Rover and still deliver dizzying levels of ride comfort must involve magic, voodoo, or some other form of black arts,” he noted.
The full-time four-wheel-drive system is the next-generation Terrain Response 2 that features manual settings for “general,” “grass/gravel/snow,” “mud/ruts,” “sand,” and “rock crawl.” The big advancement for 2013 is that there’s also an automatic setting that lets the Range Rover’s computer pick the appropriate setting based on ever-changing conditions.
It would seem that most folks would just leave it in the automatic setting for the length of ownership—except perhaps when old man winter decides to visit with a foot of snow. Then it’s time to give the “grass/gravel/snow” setting a try.
The 2013 Range Rover has a strong resemblance to the outgoing model with only evolutionary changes. The clamshell hood design and “floating” roof of the past generation remain. The windshield is more steeply raked and the traditional sharp edges have taken on a more rounded, softer look.
Land Rover has eliminated about 700 pounds from last year’s model, achieved mostly through the liberal use of aluminum in the unibody skeleton and other areas. The cabin, though, is larger, incorporating nearly five inches of additional rear-seat legroom.
The interior is loaded with upscale leather and wood trim, and the center stack has a cleaner appearance than the previous iteration, with a right-sized display. A simple and intuitive set of climate controls is situated below the display, surrounded by wood, while only the gear selection dial and the assorted off-road controls interrupt the wood and leather theme of the center console.
There are two engine choices and they will be familiar to current Range Rover owners. Both are responsive and surprisingly efficient. A 375-horsepower 5-liter V8 and a 510-horsepower 5-liter supercharged V8 are each bolted to an eight-speed, automatic transmission. Land Rover claims the naturally aspirated V8 takes the Range Rover from 0-60 in 6.5 seconds; while the supercharged engine accomplishes that sprint in 5.1 seconds.
And gas mileage? That’s probably not a concern for most owners. The V8 is rated at 14 city, 20 highway and 16 mpg overall. The supercharged engine is rated at 13/19/15. Both use premium gas, but Land Rover says regular gas can be burned without hurting the engine.
The 2013 Range Rover is available in four trims—the base model, the HSE (predicted to be the volume model), the Supercharged, and the Autobiography. A base model starts at $83,545, the HSE at $88,545, the Supercharged at $99,995, and the loaded-with-everything Autobiography at $130,995.
Our test vehicle was the HSE model with the standard V8 and numerous options including the premium audio package, climate comfort package, and vision assist package carried a bottom line of $96,195. We also drove the Supercharged with $14,935 in similar extras for a total of $114,930.
The Range Rover’s remake should be the goal of every automaker—leave all the good stuff intact while improving styling, usability, comfort, and driving dynamics.