Land Rover's Range Rover has long been an icon among luxury SUVs. It couples the ambiance and feature-rich convenience of an ultra-luxury sedan with the off-road savvy of a true four-wheel-drive SUV. This model is a radically updated flagship that's plush, comfortable, and loaded with advanced technology.
Major changes for this fourth-generation model included weight-saving aluminum unibody construction, a switch to a supercharged V6 as the standard engine instead of a V8, and an updated iteration of Land Rover's terrain-adapting electronics.
Overall, this stately coach emphasizes tranquility over dexterity. The 340-hp V6 and excellent eight-speed automatic transmission provide effortless power. We averaged 17 mpg on premium fuel, which isn't great, but still beats most rivals.
It's responsive and secure in corners, but up to this point, agile handling had never been a Land Rover forte. When pushed to its handling limits, the Range Rover leaned quite a bit and felt a little cumbersome, but it remained secure.
Ride quality is excellent. Bumps and ruts are barely acknowledged. Body motion is slow and controlled, making this large SUV feel gracious and serene.
Ensconced in the high, hushed cabin, you're surrounded by tasteful wood, leather, and chrome trim, with very comfortable, supportive seats. The rear is roomy; it's even more spacious in the long-wheelbase version. At normal driving height, the vehicle requires a bit of a step up to get in. But with its adjustable-height suspension, you can lower it by two inches to ease access. The Range Rover then automatically returns to its regular ride height when it reaches 10 mph.
Some of the controls were frustratingly dated; most are operated using a large touchscreen on the dash. The menu structure buries some often-used features, such as the radio tuner. The small touch buttons are slow to respond at times and the instrument panel fonts are too small. There are shortcuts for some functions, such as the one to activate the seat heaters.
Complementing the Range Rover's luxury accoutrements is impressive off-road capability. The adjustable suspension also lets you raise the vehicle for more ground clearance, and various electronic settings can reconfigure the running gear to handle different offroad situations. In short, it can crawl over boulders and ford streams with the best of them. Towing capacity of 7,715 pounds is also impressive.
Despite its hefty sticker price, our test vehicle lacked such safety aids as blind spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, and lane-departure warning -- features that are common on many less expensive vehicles. Those systems and a wraparound camera display are part of the optional Vision Assist package.