Range Rover review
Excellent off-road ability, big power and unprecedented levels of luxury make the Range Rover a worthy rival to any luxury saloon
The Range Rover is synonymous with two things, luxury and refinement. While there may be an army of rivals such as the BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7 none are a match for the mighty multi-tasking Range Rover.
Despite its posh and upmarket image, the Range Rover is also supremely capable off-road. A wealth of on-board tech helps it tackle tougher terrain with moderate ease, all while being surrounded in the luxurious and leather clad interior. No corners were cut when it came to designing the cabin, with superb build quality and plush materials. It’s no surprise then we rate it the best cabin this side of a Mercedes S-Class.
Travelling long distances in the Range Rover is a breeze. Despite its imposing presence and large proportions, it’s highly refined at higher speeds. The range of engines also deliver strong performance whether crunching motorway miles or driving around town. It’s the reason we voted it our Best Luxury Car of 2013.
Available in three trim levels – Vogue, Vogue SE and top spec Autobiography – each is generously kitted out, with a choice of two diesel engines available. A 3.0-litre TDV6 or a 4.4-litre V8 are both on offer, while buyers who want a petrol Range Rover can opt for the 5.0-litre V8.
If you’re after a little more grunt, there is also a Range Rover Sport model, which gets a more aggressive exterior design. Land Rover has also just launched the Range Rover Sport SVR, which owns the accolade of being the world’s fastest SUV thanks to being fitted with a 542bhp 5.0-litre supercharged V8.
Our choice: Range Rover TDV6 Vogue SE
With its imposing 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 (the long wheelbase model adds 200mm to what is already a big car), 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 tail-lights help disguise its sheer bulk. What's more, the designers at Jaguar 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 still all present.
However, the swept-back headlights and sharply angled front grille and windscreen take their cues from the small and fashionable Range Rover Evoque.
Given the Range Rover's huge presence, plenty of buyers will prefer the less ostentatious German trio; the Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series. Either way, there’s no denying the Range Rover’s car park kudos. The luxurious, clean, uncluttered interior is also a plus-point.
The 200mm added to the Range Rover long wheelbase has been put into the rear doors, so this makes them huge. However, they haven't really altered its grand and imposing design.
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 kit.
At present, the Range Rover Autobiography tops the range. This flagship model features a panoramic roof, heated steering wheel, larger alloys and a beautifully designed dash. Buyers can also specify the Executive Class pack on the Autobiography and this gives it extras that among others, include massaging rear seats that are divided by a wooden centre console.
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.
As a result of an aluminium shell and subsequent 420kg weight loss over the previous car, Land Rover has made the Range Rover great to drive. However, no amount of dieting can disguise the fact that it's a) slower than its German competitors and b) is more than two metres wide and touching three metres tall.
It is, however, a testament to the Land Rover engineers that the Range Rover is great to drive and there’s no penalty in terms of handling. The entry-level 256bhp 3.0-litre V6 model gets from 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds before hitting a top speed of 130mph.
The Range Rover is also impressively quiet and refined inside, while the smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox contributes to a relaxed driving experience. The Range Rover's standard adaptive damping and air-suspension deliver an impressively composed ride, which is only upset when the large wheels thump into a badly uneven road surface.
Additionally, the Range Rover's steering is accurate and well weighted, plus you can add optional Active Lean Control anti-roll bars to tighten body control even further.
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 20th out of 31 manufacturers in our 2014 Driver Power survey.
This is an improvement on 2013's 25th placing, but Land Rover's dealer network has proved to be less impressive, though - ranking at 28th place out of 32. The Range Rover does, however, come with a three-year unlimited mileage warranty. Service intervals are also every 15,000 miles.
The Range Rover is one of the safest cars on sale at present thanks to its light yet strong aluminium shell and buckets of hi-tech active safety kit. Adult occupant protection was rated at 91 per cent, while it scored 86 per cent for safety assist. As standard safety equipment, Land Rover decks the Range Rover out with a full set of airbags, ABS, ESP, seatbelt reminders, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and trailer stability control.
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.
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. The Range Rover also has impressive pulling power, able to tow up to 3,500kg.
The classic Range Rover twin 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.
On the standard wheelbase 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 and just about enough legroom to be comfortable on long journeys. If that's still not enough space, the long wheelbase Range Rover gets 200mm extra length and 186mm of this is translated directly into rear 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 long wheelbase Range Rover, especially if they make use of the leg rest and extra seat recline.
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.
Land Rover gives the Range Rover air-suspension that can be used to lower the body and make getting in-and-out easier, but 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.
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 manages 37.7mpg on a combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 196g/km, which is impressive for a two-tonne luxury SUV.
The TDV8 diesel's 4.4-litre engine's fuel economy is slightly less with 32.5mpg on a combined economy, 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.
The Range Rover is an expensive car, and the flagship Autobiography costs almost £95,000. Furthermore, the forthcoming Range Rover Black is estimated to cost around £130,000, which puts it firmly in Bentley Continental GT territory. Thankfully, the Range Rover Vogue comes with more reasonable price tag of around £70,000. Insurance groups are high too, starting at group 45 and rising to 49.
The Range Rover's residual values easily outweigh any price premium, and owners will lose over £10,000 less in depreciation than an Audi A8 over three years. However, with its CO2 emissions of 196g/km, the Range Rover TDV6 sits a hefty 10 tax brackets higher than a Mercedes S350.