David Beckham, Beyoncé, Paris Hilton, Ryan Reynolds. These are just a few of the names you could be among if you too, purchase a Range Rover. After spending a week in the decadent full-size Range Rover V8 Supercharged, I’ve been reassured that even in today’s era of small, fuel-efficient cars there is still a vehicle for those that want to experience power and luxury.
The 2014 Range Rover is a carryover after entering its fourth generation following last year’s complete redesign. Part of that effort saw the shaving of 700 pounds off its heavy frame by utilizing aluminum, rather than steel, unibody construction resulting in a structure that’s 39 percent lighter. New mid-model additions include distinctive LED headlamps that are now standard, and the V8 gets intelligent engine stop/start technology to try and mitigate the pain at the pump.
After 40 years of changes, the current Range Rover still retains that classic boxy shape although there are obvious refinements. Fender vents on previous editions have been replaced by decorative slashes on the front door so the vehicle can wade deeper into water if you’re into that sort of thing. Personalization is also a big feature of the modern Rover with 37 optional paint finishes and 17 interior color themes.
As one would expect, the well laid out interior is plush with leather and sustainable wood veneers covering almost every surface. One observation is that some of the controls are difficult to reach even for a long-limbed individual such as myself, namely the touch-sensitive buttons (that sometimes required multiple presses to activate) on either side of the 8-inch infotainment touchscreen and the window switches perched far atop the door panel near the A pillars. My hands instinctively reached for the armrest that housed the seat memory controls instead.
The add-on Surround Camera System provides a useful view of every side of the car with trailer reverse and hitch guidance, although resolution was on the low side. People sitting in the front benefit from seat massagers, and an optional cooler resides in the centre console in case passengers want to keep some drinks cold on a road trip.
For a big SUV, the Range Rover handles exceptionally well no doubt aided by the earlier mentioned weight loss. The suspension has been reworked with the front and rear subframes also getting the aluminum treatment. Dynamic Response active lean control is standard on the V8 model that reduces body lean during cornering.
Four-wheel air springs allow on-the-fly height adjustment between two settings via a switch underneath the gear lever for maximum ground clearance—up to 11.9 inches—when the situation calls for venturing off the beaten path. Full-time 4WD and a Terrain Response system with five settings: General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand, and Rock Crawl also help with that task.
At its core is a beastly 510-horsepower V8 supercharged engine capable of getting from 0-60 km/h in just over five seconds. Surprisingly quiet even at full throttle, the motor is mated to a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Shifts are quick, and Transmission Idle Control reduces power when the engine is idling to minimize fuel consumption in stop-and-go traffic. Spending most of my time driving in the city, I managed a combined 15.1 mpg.
The press car was outfitted with the $1,760 Vision Assist Pack that adds Reverse Traffic Detection with Blind Spot Monitor and Closing Vehicle Sensing. Adaptive Cruise Control is also available, as well as Intelligent Emergency Braking that monitors objects in front. This is in addition to the usual suspects such as Dynamic Stability Control, Electronic Traction Control, Hill Start Assist, and others.
The cost for all this? An MSRP of $102,785. Although the price tag is high, purchasing a Range Rover is akin to choosing a bespoke suit, a metaphor the manufacturer actually uses for their range-topping Autobiography models. And hey, no one said exclusivity comes cheap.
Base MSRP: $102,785
Engine: 5.0-L V8 supercharged
Horsepower: 510 @ 6,000-6,500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 461 @ 2,500-5,500 rpm
Gearbox: ZF eight-speed automatic with CommandShift
Layout: four-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 15.1 mpg combined (observed)