Range Rover review

Our Rating: 
5
5.0/5.0
2012 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

Excellent off-road ability, big power and unprecedented levels of luxury make the Range Rover a worthy rival to any luxury saloon

For: 
Incredible refinement, high-quality interior, go-anywhere ability
Against: 
Expensive to buy, thirsty V8 petrol engine, not as much legroom as limousine rivals

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The Range Rover has long been the luxury SUV benchmark. Its upmarket image, exquisite interior, powerful engines and unrivalled off-road ability make it the go-to vehicle for those who want one car that can do it all.

Like-for-like rivals are actually few and far between, and span everything from the Porsche Cayenne to the Mercedes S-Class. In fact, the latest top-spec SV-Autobiography version even competes with the new £160,000 Bentley Bentayga

• Best 4x4s and SUVs

There’s lots of on-board tech, including adjustable driving modes that help with varying terrain. The car’s real trick is to do all of this while surrounding you with a sumptuous, leather-lined interior.

Land Rover hasn’t skimped in kitting out the Range Rover’s cabin. Material and build quality are excellent and good enough to rival the Mercedes S-Class. So are the gadgets on offer – even the entry-level Vogue trim is loaded with equipment.

Alongside the Vogue model are the Vogue SE, Autobiography and SV-Autobiography versions – the latter two are also available in long-wheelbase guise – adding even more features to an already generous standard equipment list.

Its new crop of rivals simply cannot beat the Range Rover’s multi-tasking ability, as the big British 4x4 combines its posh, upmarket image and imposing looks with incredible all-road capability. 

Our Choice: 
Range Rover TDV6 Vogue SE

First introduced in 1970, the Range Rover was the originator of the luxury 4x4; it wasn’t until Mercedes launched the M-Class in 1997 that it had a truly credible rival. While the ‘Classic’ original lasted 26 years, since then the Range Rover has been updated every eight or 10 years and the current fourth generation vehicle was introduced in late 2012. 

It is available as a standard wheelbase (SWB) or long wheelbase model (LWB), although the LWB is only available on the higher-specification Autobiography cars. Trims include Vogue, Vogue SE, Autobiography  and the ultimate Range Rover, the SV-Autobiography – however be warned, this top-spec version is significantly more than the equivalent engine even in Autobiography trim.

There is no performance version per se, although the muscular Jaguar Land Rover 5.0-litre supercharged V8 petrol engine is available on the Autobiography cars. The SV-Autobiography gets a more powerful version of this engine, as seen in the F-Type R and Range Rover Sport SVR, but the acceleration and top speed data are the same as the regular 5.0's.

All Range Rovers have four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. It is, alongside the Jaguar XJ, JLR’s flagship vehicle, offering the most luxury and equipment possible for a high starting price. It sits at the top of a three-model Range Rover line-up, above the Evoque and the Sport models, though the latter is now very close to the biggest Range Rover in terms of price, quality and size.

Engines, performance and drive

5
With big power and lots of torque, the Range Rover munches miles with ease, providing maximum comfort on long journeys.

Land Rover has ensured that the Range Rover can keep up with its German rivals in terms of luxury and refinement, but what really sets it apart from them is its mega off-road ability and huge towing power.

An aluminium shell that’s subsequently 420kg lighter than the previous car means the Range Rover is great to drive. However, no amount of dieting can disguise the fact that it's both slower and heavier than its German competitors.

It is, however, a testament to the Land Rover engineers that the Range Rover is great to drive and there’s little penalty in terms of handling. The entry-level 256bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel model gets from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds, going on to hit a top speed of 130mph.

This is respectable performance for such a big car, but go for the supercharged V8 petrol and the power on offer will even scare some sports cars, hitting 60mph from rest in 5.1 seconds. It's worth noting, however, that a new Q7 is more fun, if you value the handling of your luxury SUV, but it can't match the Range Rover for comfort or ride quality.

The Range Rover is also impressively quiet and refined inside no matter which engine you choose, while the smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox contributes to a relaxed driving experience.

The car's standard adaptive damping and air-suspension deliver an impressively composed ride, which is only upset when the large wheels thump into a badly repaired pothole. If comfort is a priority, the Long Wheelbase car is even more cosseting.

Additionally, the Range Rover's steering is accurate and well weighted, plus you can add optional Active Lean Control to tighten body control even further.

Engines

Two diesel engines, a supercharged petrol and a hybrid comprise the engine choices in the Range Rover line-up. The 3.0-litre V6 in the TDV6 delivers 254bhp at 4,000rpm and 600Nm from just 2,000rpm, making it more than capable of dealing with the two-tonne-plus bulk of the Range Rover. It does 0-62mph in a wholly acceptable 7.9 seconds, going on to hit a top speed of 130mph.

It is this engine that is paired to a 35kW (47bhp) electric motor in the SDV6 Hybrid model, which is only available as an Autobiography (SWB or LWB) or the LWB example of the SV-Autobiography. The Hybrid’s peak outputs are 349bhp at 4,000rpm and 700Nm of torque from 1,500 to 1,750rpm.

However, don't expect this to be an eco car, as the Range Rover can only manage a solitary mile in full electric mode and it sacrifices 500kg of maximum towing weight compared to other Range Rovers, although it is claimed to be the most efficient of the line-up.

The 4.4-litre SDV8 is an impressive motor, serving up 334bhp at 3,500rpm and the most torque of any Range Rover at 740Nm from 1,750 to 2,250rpm. It’ll do 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds and run on to 135mph where permitted.

The sole petrol engine is the 5.0-litre supercharged V8, an epic powerplant but one that is extremely poor on fuel. In its ‘lesser’ form, it delivers 503bhp from 6,000 to 6,500rpm and 625Nm from 2,500 to 5,500rpm. However, in the SV-Autobiography – a Special Vehicle Operations model – those numbers swell to 542bhp at 6,500rpm and 680Nm from 3,500 to 4,000rpm; the same stats as the Range Rover Sport SVR 

Land Rover claims identical 0-62mph times and top speeds for both supercharged V8s, those numbers being 5.1 seconds and 155mph, which is an impressive turn of pace for such a big car.

MPG, CO2 and running costs

3.5
Although lighter than before, the Range Rover can still be thirsty – and it’s not exactly cheap to buy or run.

Make no mistake, the Range Rover is a big, heavy car with a strong thirst, but Land Rover has put considerable effort into making the latest incarnation considerably cleaner and more efficient than its predecessor – a car that was known for its poor fuel economy.

As a result of its considerable weight reduction, the latest Range Rover with the 3.0-litre TDV6 diesel engine officially manages 40.9mpg on a combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 182g/km, which is impressive for a two-tonne luxury SUV.

The TDV8 diesel's 4.4-litre engine is noticeably less efficient, returning a claimed 32.5mpg, plus a CO2 output of 229g/km. Rather unsurprisingly however, the 5.0-litre V8 petrol is pretty thirsty and in addition to its 22.1mpg, it emits 299g/km of CO2.

If you want the fastest and thirstiest Range Rover money can buy, though, you can opt for the 542bhp Supercharged SV-Autobiography. It uses the engine from the Range Rover Sport SVR, and returns a miserly 21.6mpg.

The Range Rover is an expensive car, with prices starting from a smidge under £75,000. The all-singing, all-dancing SV-Autobiography starts from £148,900, which puts it firmly in Bentley Bentayga territory.

Insurance groups

Range Rovers are not cheap cars to insure, given the extensive use of aluminium, the purchase prices and the level of equipment on board - plus the luxurious SUVs are known to be targets for car thieves.

Insurance groups are therefore at the top of the scale, starting at group 45 and rising to 50. 

However, with its CO2 emissions of 182g/km, the Range Rover TDV6 sits a hefty six company car tax brackets higher than a Mercedes S350d, due to its bulkier body and extra weight hurting efficiency.

This means it currently commanding a 36 per cent Benefit-in-Kind rate. The 164g/km Hybrid is a little better, going as low as 32 per cent BIK, but the SDV8 and either 5.0-litre model are all in the maximum 37 per cent bracket.

Depreciation

The Range Rover is an expensive car, none more so than the petrol SV-Autobiography in long wheelbase form, which costs an incredible £165,500, putting it firmly in Bentley Continental GT territory.

Thankfully, the Range Rover Vogue comes with a more reasonable price tag at £75,850. The Range Rover’s residual values are respectable for an expensive luxury car, and it’s the entry-level TDV6 Vogue that’ll resist depreciation the best, holding onto 48.65 per cent of its value. It’ll be worth £36,900 in three years time.

Interior, design and technology

4.5
Beautiful exterior and sumptuous interior make the Range Rover feel worth the high entry price.

With its gargantuan size and good looks, the Range Rover smacks of luxury and makes quite the statement. While the Range Rover's sheer size is what first grabs you, it's what's under the skin that makes it more than just a 21st century style icon.

The Range Rover gets sleek gills on the front doors and those dynamic wraparound taillights help disguise its sheer bulk. What's more, the designers at Land Rover have cleverly managed to create a contemporary looking SUV without abandoning the classic Range Rover design cues – the clamshell bonnet, ‘floating’ roof and split tailgate are all present and correct.

However, the swept-back headlights and sharply angled front grille and windscreen take their cues from the smaller, fashionable Range Rover Evoque crossover.

Given the regular Range Rover's huge presence, many buyers will prefer the less ostentatious German saloon trio in the form of the Mercedes-Benz S-ClassAudi A8 and BMW 7 Series. Either way, there’s no denying the Range Rover’s kerb appeal.

The crisp, clean and uncluttered interior is also a plus point. As expected, the 'entry-level' Range Rover Vogue is very well equipped, and as standard, Land Rover decks it out with 20-inch alloys, digital TV and radio, sat-nav, plus an automatically opening tailgate and self-parking system. The Range Rover Vogue SE is the next version up, and gets a dual-view TFT screen and soft door closing as standard.

The Autobiography model features a panoramic roof, heated steering wheel, larger alloys and a beautifully designed dash, while the flagship SV-Autobiography is almost worth consideration as a separate model – even the SWB version is nearly twice the price of the TDV6 Vogue at the other end of the line-up. 

It is the pinnacle of luxury, though, with almost every conceivable toy on it – such as massaging, 22-way adjustable front seats and two reclining executive chairs with a fridge between them in the rear. You can even option a sliding boot floor and a pair of ‘event’ chairs that fold out of the boot and face rearwards with the hatch open; useful for places like Ascot or Badminton.

Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment

Jaguar Land Rover has recently updated its infotainment system to InControl Touch, which is a big improvement on the old-fashioned software its cars had before. InControl Touch is not quite as slick as BMW’s iDrive but it is fine to use and has better control interfaces than previously, making it more intuitive and less frustrating to use.

Premium HDD navigation is standard on all Range Rovers and it’s an excellent system, while there’s a range of high-end sound packages to appeal to owners. All cars get DAB and MP3 compatibility, and Meridian provides the audio set-ups.

The Vogue’s is an 11-speaker plus subwoofer 380W affair, while the Vogue SE and Autobiography are upgraded to 17 speakers plus subwoofer and 825W. They also benefit from the dual-view front screen, including one set of WhiteFire headphones for the front-seat passenger. 

Finally, the SV-Autobiography gets a supremely powerful 1,700W Meridian Signature Reference Audio System and Rear Seat Entertainment as standard too – incorporating two eight-inch headrest screens, a rear media panel, an extra USB port and 12V power socket, a remote control and two more pairs of WhiteFire headphones.

Practicality, comfort and boot space

4.5
The Range Rover has a massive boot, some useful technology to make access easier and plenty of pulling power.

While its looks have evolved over three generations, the Range Rover's principles of rugged usability and practicality have remained, and this is what gives it an advantage over more traditional luxury car rivals. 

On the standard wheelbase Range Rover, rear space is fine. There's more room than you’ll find on a Bentley Bentayga, with plenty of width and a flat floor for three people to sit alongside each other in comfort. If that's still not enough space, the long wheelbase Range Rover gets 200mm extra length.

If the front passenger is willing to edge their seat forward a bit, a six-foot passenger can pretty much stretch their legs out in the Long Wheelbase Range Rover, especially if they make use of the leg rest and recline the rear seat.

On the standard wheelbase Range Rover, rear space is fine. There's more room than you’ll find on a Bentley Bentayga, with plenty of width and a flat floor for three people to sit alongside each other in comfort. If that's still not enough space, the long wheelbase Range Rover gets 200mm extra length.

If the front passenger is willing to edge their seat forward a bit, a six-foot passenger can pretty much stretch their legs out in the Long Wheelbase Range Rover, especially if they make use of the leg rest and recline the rear seat.

With the extra height the Range Rover has over its rivals, it feels truly massive in the back and gives a fantastic view. One downside of its sheer size though, is that it’s still quite a climb up into the car, but recent updates now mean you can lower the air suspension to ‘access’ height at the touch of a button to make getting in and out easier. Even still, it's not quite as easy to do so as in a BMW 7 Series or Audi A8.

The Range Rover also gets a space-saver spare wheel as standard, but a full-size replacement is only available as an option. What's more, the electronically deployable tow-bar is also an extra.

Thanks to all that torque the Range Rover also has impressive pulling power, being able to tow a trailer weighing up to 3,500kg.

Size

While the current model debuted much sleeker styling than its predecessor, it remains a physically huge vehicle. It is just 1mm short of the full five metres in length and more than 2.2 metres wide, with the door mirrors folded out. 

It is also 1,835mm tall, comfortably higher than most crossovers that purport to have SUV-like driving positions. Sitting behind the steering wheel of the Range Rover is a very commanding place to be – you are higher than pretty much everything else on the roads, save the largest vans, buses and lorries. This gives a great view out and a safe, secure feeling when you’re out on the road.

Leg room, head room & passenger space

On the SWB Range Rover, rear space is fine. There’s plenty of width and a flat floor for three people to sit alongside each other in comfort, as well as just enough legroom to be comfortable on long journeys. If that’s still not enough space, the LWB Range Rover boasts an extra 200mm between the wheels, with 186mm of this translated directly into rear-seat legroom.

If the front passenger is willing to edge their seat forward a bit, a six-foot passenger can pretty much stretch their legs out in the LWB Range Rover, especially if they make use of the leg rest and recline the rear seat.

Boot

With all its seats in place, the Range Rover can hold 909 litres of luggage – 399 litres more than either the Audi A8 or Mercedes S-Class – but folding them at the touch of a button frees up a vast 2,360 litres. Interestingly, the Long Wheelbase car doesn’t offer any more bootspace – with all the extra inches given to the rear-seat passengers. 

The classic Range Rover split tailgate allows you to open one or both parts as needed: leaving the bottom half in place makes it easy to pop smaller items straight into the boot, while lowering it gives you a useful temporary seating area.

Reliability and Safety

4
Land Rover’s none-too-impressive 2014 Driver Power showing looks to be improving. The Range Rover has a five-star EuroNCAP rating, too.

Past generations of Land Rover models have suffered from reliability niggles in previous years and the Range Rover was no exception. Despite Land Rover working hard to improve its cars' durability, it still wound up a disappointing 22nd out of 32 manufacturers in our 2016 Driver Power survey. The Range Rover does, however, come with a three-year unlimited mileage warranty, while service intervals are every 15,000 miles. 

The Range Rover is one of the safest cars on sale at present thanks to that light yet strong aluminium shell and buckets of hi-tech active safety features. Euro NCAP rated adult occupant protection at 91 per cent, while it scored 86 per cent for safety assist and a maximum five-star rating overall.

Land Rover kits the Range Rover out with an impressive array of safety equipment as standard, including a full set of airbags, ABS, ESP, seatbelt reminders, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and trailer stability control.

Warranty

The Range Rover comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, which can be extended for a specific valuation according to the age, mileage and condition of the car. Land Rover’s Extended Warranty does include both mechanical and electrical parts coverage.

Servicing

Service intervals are every 15,000 miles. Land Rover offers five-year, 50,000-mile fixed price servicing packages on all its other models, up to and including the Range Rover Sport, but the Range Rover itself is exempt from this.

Last updated: 19 May, 2016