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 a more than worthy luxury rival to luxury SUVs like the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne but it serves as a classily chunky alternative to luxury saloons like the Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8 too. It's extremely comfortable, has a top-quality interior and a massively posh image. However, what really sets it apart from the traditional luxury car set, ias its supreme ability to multi-task.
Launched by Land Rover in 2012, the latest incarnation of the iconic Range Rover SUV has taken some styling cues from the Range Rover Evoque to keep its look fresh, and the cabin is as good as anything by Audi or BMW. Comfort, quality and refinement have all risen to limousine-like levels but unlike a limousine, it can be a task for some passengers to get into the rear seats - even in the long wheelbase version, which gets 200mm on the standard car.
Despite its SUV body, the Range Rover is just as comfortable as a long-distance cruiser as it is plugging through a muddy field. Despite it's imposing presence, the Range Rover is surprisingly nimble and hugely refined. When you factor in its strong performance, it's no surprise we voted it our Best Luxury Car of 2013.
The newest Range Rover comes in three trim levels - the 'entry' level Vogue, the mid-range Vogue SE and the Autobiography tops the range. All three specifications have a choice of two diesels, a 3.0-litre TDV6 or a 4.4-litre V8 while buyers who want a petrol Range Rover can opt for the 5.0-litre V8. It's also worth noting that in summer 2014, Land Rover will add a Range Rover Autobiography Black model, which makes the range topper even more luxurious
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 and larger alloys. 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.
However, Land Rover has announced it will be adding the Range Rover Autobiography Black to the range in summer 2014. The Black is expected to take the Range Rover to new levels of luxury as it gets an extra 17 degrees of recline in the seats and calf rests to support your legs, plus electric-powered pop-up tables and 10-inch screens for both rear passengers.
On the outside, the Range Rover Black gets new black detailing to the front and rear lights, plus a shinier front grille and new wheel options. Furthermore, its Atlas side vents get chrome accents.
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 if you choose the longer, slightly heavier long wheelbase model.
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 25th out of 31 manufacturers in our 2013 Driver Power Survey and placed last for reliability.
However, Land Rover's franchised dealer network fared better and ranked 15th out of 31 brands. What's more, it gives the Range Rover a three-year unlimited mileage warranty.
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 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 an 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.
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.