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 defines the luxury SUV sector, thanks to its mix of refinement, quality and off-road ability. There’s an army of rivals such as the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne looking to take its place, but thanks to the Range Rover’s mix of skills, none of its rivals can quite match it.
The new Volvo XC90 is on the block too, offering plenty of premium equipment and great safety, while Audi will release its all-new, lighter, greener Q7 later in 2015 with an appealing hybrid version, so the Range Rover could face some stiff competition.
Its new crop of rivals will do well to beat the Range Rover’s multi-tasking ability though, as the big, British 4x4 combines its posh, upmarket image and imposing looks with incredible off-road capability.
There’s lots of on-board tech, with adjustable driving modes depending on the terrain, helping the Range Rover tackle any surface with ease. 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-Benz S-Class. So are the gadgets on offer – even the entry-level Vogue trim is loaded with kit.
Alongside the Vogue model are the Vogue SE and range-topping Autobiography versions – the latter also available in long wheelbase guise – adding even more features to an already generous standard equipment list.
With big power and lots of torque on offer the Range Rover munches miles with ease, providing a relaxing level of comfort on long journeys.
There are two diesel versions to choose from: a 256bhp 3.0-litre TDV6 and a 4.4-litre V8 developing 335bhp. If you’re after more power and aren’t too worried about efficiency, there’s also a 5.0-litre supercharged petrol V8 offering 503bhp. However, if CO2 is more of an issue, there’s also a hybrid model, which should be cheaper to run.
Our choice: Range Rover TDV6 Vogue SE
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 still present.
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-Class, Audi 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 Autobiography Black variant – only available as a long wheelbase model – tops the range. There’s an executive seat option for even more comfort, with just two rear seats that recline by up to 17 degrees.
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 a) slower than its German competitors and b) more than two metres wide and touching two 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 0-60mph in 7.4 seconds, going on to hit 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 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 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 of five places over 2013's result, but Land Rover's dealer network has proved to be less impressive, ranking 28th place out of 32 brands. The Range Rover does, however, come with a three-year unlimited mileage warranty. 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.
As standard safety equipment, Land Rover kits 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, being able to tow a trailer weighing up to 3,500kg.
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.
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, as well as just enough legroom to be comfortable on long journeys. If that's still not enough space, the long wheelbase Range Rover gets 200mm extra length, 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 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.
Land Rover gives the Range Rover air-suspension that can be used to lower the body, making 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 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's combined fuel economy is noticeably less, 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.
The Range Rover is an expensive car, and the flagship Autobiography costs almost £90,000. Furthermore, the long wheelbase-only Range Rover Black starts from £143,400, which puts it firmly in Bentley Continental GT territory. Thankfully, the Range Rover Vogue comes with a more reasonable price tag at just over £70,000. Insurance groups are high too, starting at group 45 and rising to 50.
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 182g/km, the Range Rover TDV6 sits a hefty six company car tax brackets higher than a Mercedes S350 Bluetec.