Land Rover's Range Rover has long been an icon among luxury SUVs. It couples the ambience and feature-rich convenience of an ultra-luxury sedan with the off-road savvy of a true four-wheel-drive SUV. And the current model is a radically updated flagship that's plush, comfortable, and loaded with advanced technology.
Major changes for this fourth-generation model include weight-saving aluminum unibody construction, a switch to a supercharged V6 as the standard engine instead of a V8, and the latest iteration of 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 agile handling has never been a Rover forte, so don't expect the sporty experience of, say, a Porsche Cayenne. When pushed to its handling limits, the Rover leaned quite a bit and felt a little cumbersome, but it remained secure.
Ride quality is excellent. Bumps and ruts are barely acknowledged. And 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 2 inches to ease access. The Rover then automatically returns to its regular ride height when it reaches 10 mph.
Some of the controls are frustratingly dated; most are operated using a large touch screen 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. It's not hard to figure out the rotary shifter, but it lacks some desired safeguards to prevent the car from rolling away when parked if the driver accidentally doesn't select Park as needed.
Complementing the Range Rover's luxury accouterments 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 off-road situations. In short, it can crawl over boulders and ford streams with the best of them, should its upscale buyers wish to do so. Towing capacity of 7,715 pounds is also impressive.
Standard safety feature includes automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning.