The Range Rover is so popular that people tend to be superficial when talking about it - "it's a Range Rover, of course it's comfortable and good off-road". However, this is like saying "it's a song coming from The Beatles, you know it's nice. On top of all that, the vehicle's imposing styling cues has convinced many footballers and husbands of soccer moms to buy the car.
Thus, the Range Rover never actually gets to be analyzed, it-s taken for granted in a way that makes many of its assets, and drawbacks, become invisible.
We invited the vehicle to take a seat in our Test Drive section in order to look past the massive design, the LEDs, the 20-inch rims and the frightening ride height.
You are looking at the second important facelift for the third generation of the car, which was brought to life in 2002. Since then, the SUV
segment has been one of the most effervescent in the industry, so has the car managed to keep up?
An all-new generation of the car is set to be launched this year and yet sales figures for the outgoing one are looking good. How is this possible?
You'll find the answer to these questions, and much more, hidden between a mix of sand dunes and posh locations offered by the following chapters.
Before we push the engine start button, we have to tell you that it's electrical connections brings a new 4.4-liter V8 diesel to life, a choice that not only promises to be green, but also gives the car even more off-road bonus points.
Have you ever seen a movie in which the main character steals a valuable asset a goes through the entire plot by hiding it in a place so obvious that nobody looks for it there? We suspect that the entire design team gathered at the office the night before the project debuted and watched such a movie, because this is what they did with the car: it's so large and boxy, but it somehow manages to place these features in your face in a way that makes you not notice them.
The Range Rover can easily share the red carpet with vehicles wearing badges like Rolls-Royce or Porsche badges for elegant evenings, as well as play in the mud with cars such as the Mercedes G-Class and Toyota Land Cruiser.
The latest facelift has brought eye-candy headlights and taillights, but not both get the same score in our test. The headlights' LED setup might look good, but it's all a bit too flashy for a gentleman. The headlights on the other side are a true example of perfection, as they manage to catch your eye without making the car look like it's trying too hard.
However, the designers and the engineers did have a fight at a certain point of the development process and you'll notice this when you'll try to order the optional body kit and notice that this means you'll have to give up the optional electronically-controlled rear differential. Annoying. Very annoying,
When the fourth generation of the Range Rover comes out this year, Land Rover should donate a few examples of the current one, which debuted back in 2002 and received two important facelifts since then, to various design schools, in order to show how much some details can do to keep a car alive.
The valet opens the massive door and invites us to climb aboard: "Good day Sirs, welcome to your driving room". We then literally climb aboard, with the cabin's floor sitting at a considerable distance from the ground - he's forgotten to select the "access height" position of the air suspension again, next time we'll fire him.
Once we are in, we're greeted by a sea of fine leather and a calm breeze of wood trimming.That's right, sitting inside the Rang Rover feels like a trip to the seaside. You're an armchair, and the rest of the elements are low and far away, just like on a beach.
Even the sun is allowed to come with with an extreme generosity, as the glass house of the Range Rover is proverbial. This, together with the height of the car and driving position, offers he driver the visibility of a lifeguard.
You can play in the sand wherever you want, as both the front and the rear seats offer tons of space - the rear seats are also reclining.
However, if you close your eyes and use your tactile sense, you'll be taken from the beach to the Ritz, as the materials used are some of the finest a car has ever seen. The cabin of the Range Rover is where you should go if you want to see how the vehicle's price is justified. To get this kind of space and material quality elsewhere, you'll have to pay much more.
Now open your eyes and start playing with the gadgets: the touch-screen display and the pop-up gear shift selector, both borrowed from sister company Jaguar, teleport you to the digital world. We said digital, not virtual, because when you start touching the rest of the cabin, you instantly realize you're in the real world, with everything being solid despite the softness.
The Range Rover uses its boxy shape to conceal one of the best interiors of the automotive world, which feels as fresh as it did when it was released in 2002, thanks to the multiple changes brought by the revamps introduced meanwhile.
Cities are getting bigger and bigger, so you need a larger car to tackle them, right? Wrong. The density of urban life is following an increasing trend, so driving a Range Rover through the city nowadays might seem like madness. However, the automotive producer has called in some doctors to try to solve this. Let's see what they can do for you.
First of all, the aesthetic surgeons gifted the car with a boxy design and a large glass area make it pretty easy for the driver to estimate where the extremities of the vehicle are. Of course, trying to shove the massive body inside a tight neighborhood is an action limited by sheer dimensions, but the car does all it can to help.
The torque-loaded diesel engine and the eight ratios of the gearbox make sure that you can always do whatever you want without having to bury the throttle. The duo also gives you a silver bullet for those willing to use their eco snipers on you.
Parking can be pretty difficult, as no system can overcome the dimensions of the car, but the high driving position and the beefy tires mean that you do get some help for this kind of maneuvers.
The car gives you a feeling of protection, which allows you to detach from the urban frenzy and notions such as potholes and dangers on the road become pure fiction.
The Range Rover has all it takes to shine in the parking lot of plush locations, so it's a good tool for the night life or business meetings. Buy it in black and it will perfectly suit your tuxedo, or go for an actual color and it's a perfect accessory for your jeans & polo shirt.
The air suspension's "access height" setting, which can be used up to 31 mph (50 km/h), gives the vehicle a stance that's more appropriate for the city, so you can use this if you're wiling to drive within the speed limit.
The Range Rover is a car that does all it can to adapt to the urban landscape, but there's only so much that can be done to introduce one of the largest SUVs on the market to the city traffic.
The fortress under heavy siege, with nature, the fiercest enemy of them all, throwing more and more rocks at you. Then the special sand dunes are sent in to destroy you. These are some of the most clever forces you can encounter, as they gradually draw your momentum until you're stuck dry.
Next you meet the mud, a tricky adversary that uses your own force against you and shows 1000 faces, each with its own language that you have to know in order to win this battle.
Fortunately, you don't need to be be able to command an army of men and have craftsmen build special contraptions, Land Rover's Terrain Response System does all the hard work for you, offering dedicated setups for each type of adversary.
The air suspension and the adaptive dampers do an incredible job at isolating the cabin from the war that's going on under the car. Depending of how good of a driver you are, there will be a contest between you and the road tires for the "weak link" title in this game.
However, the vehicle does have an Achilles' Heel when stepping off the tarmac: the Rollover Stability Control system acts like a super-cautious nanny, considering that the vehicle is on the edge all the time and will seriously limit your ability to oversteer. While most owners won't get to feel this, it can become bothering in certain extreme situations or when you just want to have fun.
Let's go through a quick wash and enter the paved world. We'll use two cameras to film the Range Rover's on-road performance. First of all, if we consider how good the vehicle is at tackling rough terrain, it's amazing how decent it is to drive on tarmac - the only vehicle we can think of with the same duality is the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, but that is by far less complete as a car.
If we analyze the Range Rover as a road car, we have to tell you that, again, the vehicle does wonders with isolating the driver from the pronounced body movements its hefty mass brings. The air suspension and the continuously variable dampers keep the vehicle under control and even when you go past the limit with the electronic nannies off, the car listens to you, despite the fact that the steering won't speak to you whatever you do.
But this is not a car to be hooned. You'll enjoy the vast torque reserve of the diesel V8 much better by wafting around and, if you like, you can tackle corners with a certain dynamic attitude.
The idea that almost three tones of steel can be moved around so quickly by a diesel engine give you a priceless feeling, with the roar of the engine coming as an icing for this cake.
The Brembo brakes also come in standard for the 4.4 TDV8 engine and they do a great job at killing speed, but you have to be aware of he car's mass when preparing your maneuvers.
The new V8 diesel manages to deliver hot hatch dynamics in a three-ton SUV, but the main on-road purpose of this car is to carry you around effortless.