More likely to be seen at the Starbucks drivethrough nearest a gated community, amid the Southwest’s other worldly backdrops of brown, orange and even red rock, it’s obvious that despite its pristine white paint job this is the Range Rover’s natural environment.
|1. Optional Terrain Response 2 includes a new Auto setting as well as five manual settings: General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand and Rock Crawl.
2. A 5.0L V8 makes 375 hp, while the supercharged 5.0L will deliver 510 hp and a 0-60 time of just 5.1 seconds.
3. On average each model has shed 700 lbs of weight.
4. All models can tow up to 7,716 lbs.
5. At $83,545 to start, Supercharged models begin at $99,995 with Autobiography models at $130,995.
Over the course of several days spent traversing everything from sandy inclines to snowy declines somewhere on the border between Arizona and Utah, the 2013 Range Rover was almost too good, taking much of the adventure out of a what in almost any other vehicle would be impossible and impassible.
Driving through the desert and wondering at the region’s towering stone monuments in the morning; then traversing foot-deep snow in the afternoon, it doesn’t seem at all odd to stop and drink hot chocolate from the back of a Land Rover support vehicle in the wilderness as the flakes fall. Like all past generations of the Range Rover, this all-new fourth generation model combines ultimate capability with exceptional refinement.
ICONIC DESIGN INTACT
Notably restyled for 2013, the Range Rover has softer edges with a more swept back design. While the change in style can be a bit much at first, hallmark qualities like the grille and headlights (though with a new LED style) remain. It doesn’t take long before the new look is as familiar as the old.
Inside the updates are all about making the cabin clean and simple. In fact, there are now 50 percent fewer buttons and switches, thanks in part to a new 8-inch display screen with touch controls on the side that look like something off a smart phone and which disappear when off to leave a clean black panel. Perhaps most surprising is that Land Rover’s adoption of hi-tech features has come with no potholes; the system being incredibly intuitive.
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INTERIOR: SIMPLE YET HI-TECH
The rest of interior is an oasis of luxury, and while wood veneers are available for traditionalists, a piano black trim adds to the modern touch, which is completed by a fully digital gauge display measuring 12.3-inches. Definitely cool, it can even showcase a special off-road display screen, though frustratingly, there’s no way to show a digital speed display.
As a popular machine for families or chauffeuring around celebrities, rear seat room was made a priority on the new truck. With a longer wheelbase, rear seat legroom is up 4.7-inches with an extra 2-inches of knee room. The door opening is now also larger, and to enable easy entry, a special Access mode will lower the SUV a total of two inches from its standard ride height.
Those particularly interested in the rear-seat experience can opt for an Individual seating option with two chairs that offer not just heating and cooling functions, but power recline and massage. Heck, even the headrests fold in on the sides to keep you in place in case their soft-as-a-pillow padding puts you to sleep.
Customization is something Land Rover prides itself on and something its customers demand. There are a total of 37 exterior colors, 17 interior “themes” and eight different wheel sizes from 19 to 22-inches. Those looking for options will find them in bulk, including a massive panoramic glass roof and a 29-speaker , 1700-watt audio system.
The safety conscious will appreciate blind spot monitoring, a reverse traffic detection system that can tell if a car is coming from the side. There’s also adaptive cruise control that works in stop-and-go traffic and even an Intelligent Emergency Braking function that can apply the brakes automatically if a collision is deemed imminent, helping scrub off speed and lessen the accident.
LIGHTER, FASTER, MORE AGILE
Driving the new Range Rover on-road is perhaps where its updates are most obvious. Yes it has new bodywork, but it’s also all-new underneath. The first SUV with a fully-aluminum structure, by switching to the lighter metal over steel, models have shed a dramatic 700 lbs.
It’s now more nimble, more efficient and faster. Power continues to come from a choice of two engine options with the entry-level 5.0-liter V8 making 375 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a new 8-speed transmission fuel economy rises to 14/20 mpg, while the 0-60 time drops seven tenths of a second to 6.5 seconds.
As for the powerful Supercharged models, they get a blower mated to the same V8 to deliver 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy suffers slightly to 13/19 mpg, while 60 mph is nearly a second faster at just 5.1 seconds. Deceptively fast, we found out the hard way and made a generous donation to the Utah state coffers.
The drive itself is quiet, though wind noise isn’t entirely absent from the still-boxy shape. It’s also smooth thanks to a new air suspension system, while an optional Adaptive Dynamics feature uses hydraulically actuated detachable sway bars to reduce body roll during cornering.
Fully engaged on the road, the sway bars separate when you want to hit the trails for added wheel movement; though that is just the start of an incredible list of off-road features.
With 12-inches of ground clearance, not to mention improved approach and departure angles, hit the little “up” button on the center console and the air suspension will lift an extra three-inches. Press it again for 1.4-inches more, and in case the truck thinks it’s high-sided, it will automatically add another 1.4-inches. If it looked somewhat sleek before, when fully extended this luxury ute strikes an imposing pose.
Jacked-up, it’s time to engage the low-range gearing by popping the transmission dial into neutral and pressing the little mountain button. Drop it back into drive and it’s now time to make a decision, or… to leave the stressful stuff to the Land Rover engineers. That’s because of an optional Terrain Response 2 feature. From the company that pioneered the off-road dial with custom settings to tackle everything from driving in snow to sand to rock-crawling, this latest version now includes an “auto” setting, which takes the guesswork (and some would say the fun) out of the experience, meaning anyone can tackle the trails with confidence.
My journalistic duty and general inquisitiveness led me to manually dial through each setting and despite being an off-roading newb I could easily distinguish the features of each, from added torque and limited traction control in the Sand setting, to higher revs in Snow and an incredibly jerky Rock Crawling mode designed for slow going and a very light touch.
All but the Sand mode will automatically engage hill descent control (slowing the big SUV without using the brakes) and you can even set your ideal rpm to increase or decrease the set speed, depending on how treacherous the terrain.
In all cases, we’re amazed at the grip, especially considering the rubber under-foot is the high-performance summer stuff, better suited to LA freeways than the unused Bureau of Land Management trails we’re on.
As though all this wasn’t enough, for 2013 there’s a new air intake system that can pull oxygen from near the hood, improving wading depth by eight-inches, meaning it can drive through three feet of water. Plus, a two speed off-road setting will allow higher speeds with an intermediate mode that offers 1.6-inches of extra clearance at speeds of up to 50 mph. Ideal for covering uneven ground at greater speed, it’s also a failsafe feature, ensuring that wheelspin moments don’t trigger the truck’s computer into thinking you’re on the highway, lowering the suspension and potentially grounding the SUV.
After an early morning video shoot, with the moon still high in the sky and the sun rising in the east, starting to illuminate the brilliant red cliffs in the distance, we slide back into the supple cream leather seats and rejoin the sand, dirt and rock trail towards our obscenely opulent lodgings at the nearby Amangiri resort. Meshing the rugged with the regal, it’s a journey perfectly suited to the Range Rover, a vehicle that perhaps more than any other, has adapted to changing times while staying true to its rugged roots.