In the nearly seven decades it has existed, Land Rover has had up to a half dozen or more vehicles in its portfolio at any one time, but since 1970, the one most identified with the venerable British marque (now owned by the Tata Motors of India) has to be the Range Rover.
Despite its longevity, the Range Rover is in just its fourth generation, the first lasting for over a quarter of a century as a boxy, rugged, utilitarian vehicle not a whole lot different in concept from the original Land Rover Series whose main purpose was off-road and farm use.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, the Range Rover began to move up-market with the addition of refined interiors and numerous creature comforts and technological features putting it solidly amongst the luxury SUV segment while still retaining its rugged reputation and capability for off-roading adventures.
With the redesign for 2013, the Range Rover shed about 700 pounds because of its aluminum unibody construction which resulted in a livelier performance and improved fuel consumption.
For 2014, a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine replaced the previous normally aspirated 5.0-liter V8, further enhancing fuel economy to a less-thirsty 17 miles-per-gallon on city streets and 23 mpg on the highway while still sending out 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels, propelling the vehicle’s nearly 5,000 pounds from zero-to-60 mph in 7.1 seconds, according to Land Rover timers.
Also offered is a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 that is rated at 510 hp and 461 lb.-ft. of torque that moves the Range Rover from zero-to-60 in a rapid 5.1 seconds, but drinks fuel at a rate of 13 mpg city, 19 highway. The V8 is equipped with standard start/stop technology that helps improve fuel economy, but how much is hard to say.
It is a feature that is becoming quite common, especially in high fuel-consumption vehicles, but can take a little bit of getting used to. It can be somewhat disconcerting to come to a busy intersection and have the engine shut off as you wait at the light. At least until you get used to it.
Premium fuel is required for both engines, which are mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission with three settings (Normal, Sport, and Manual) with low-range gearing for serious off-road ventures.
Speaking of the transmission, the gear shifter is a rotary dial that rises from the center console when the engine is started. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters allow the driver to manually select gears if desired.
The electronic parking brake also operates on a small button you pull up to engage, and it disengages automatically when you put the vehicle in gear -- which should be a feature of all vehicles with electronic parking brakes but often isn’t.
Despite its size and high stature, the Range Rover is only a five-passenger vehicle with no third row encroaching on its stowage space at the rear. That also gives the passengers the luxury of plenty of room for themselves with just a tad over 40 inches of legroom in the backseat alone, a good inch more than offered to those in the front. A quick game of handball, anyone?
In addition to the generous room, the passengers also sit in a cabin featuring lots of leather (three grades are offered) and soft-touch materials throughout. The driver sits in what the company calls a Command Driving Position, slightly elevated to give the driver a superb view of what is going on around him.
Such features as a surround-view camera, blind-spot warning system, and reverse traffic detection, which engages when the car is put in reverse and warns the driver of approaching vehicles from either side when backing out of a driveway or parking spot, also give one an air of confidence when maneuvering the vehicle in tight spots.
Yes, the Ranger Rover is a big vehicle, but you don’t get the impression that it is oversized in any respect. From looking out over the hood, the Range Rover feels more like a mid-sized SUV than one of the segment’s big boys.
And the combination of the torque and horsepower and the loss of weight makes the Range Rover much more agile than its predecessors.
The Range Rover is offered in several different trims with the base starting with an MSRP of $84,195, including the $895 destination and delivery charge. The HSE model tacks on $5,000, and the V8s carry MSRPs in the six figures ($100,995 for standard wheelbase and $106,195 for long wheelbase).
To get the fully tricked out Autobiography trim, which includes as standard features like Intelligent Stop/Start, active rear locking differential, and 29-speaker, 1,700-Watt Meridian Signature Audio System with 3D Surround Sound, you’re looking at MSRPs of $137,645 and $142, 995 LWB.
The Autobiography model is featured in the accompanying slide show. Check out such features as the panoramic sunroof that gives rear-seat passengers a clear view of the sky.