Range Rover could literally be synonymized with Limit Wanderer or something that pushes the scope of what’s possible. That’s taking things a little bit far, but then again, this is a review examining a luxury vehicle that can handle grueling landscapes.
|Engine: 5.0L supercharged V8 makes 510 hp, 461 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel economy: EPA estimated 13/19/15 city/highway/combined
Price: Supercharged V8 models start at $101,025 including delivery.
Except, most of the time these British borne take-all-comer vehicles usually come home to roost in a garage having hardly skimmed the surface of its mountaineering potential.
Is it any surprise? Land Rover can shout at the top of its lungs about driving modes meant for rocks, sand, grass and anything else the Billy Goats Gruff might feel at home atop. It doesn’t change the fact anything available with 22-inch aluminum wheels priced well above the $100,000 mark isn’t risking a trail where branch scratches are possible. People might stare…
And that could defeat the Range Rover’s true purpose: telling people that you view being dirty with disdain, but that you could go the same places as one of those Jeep hooligans. You just don’t want to.
That’s true for the same reason Mercedes-Benz offers AMG versions of almost all its products. Nobody in an ML63 AMG is going to their local race track to turn laps, but the damn things sell anyway because AMG is German for expensive and wealth is boring if you can’t squander it sometimes.
None of that is news to the chaps who plan products at Land Rover, but the world’s tolerance for devil-may-care gas mileage is.
That’s why the latest generation of Range Rovers – released for the 2013 model year – adopted an aluminum unibody and an eight-speed automatic transmission in an effort to save weight and fuel. The result is an average weight savings of about 700 lbs compared to the previous generation and a claimed 15 MPG average rating. After a week of driving mostly on the highway I managed about 17 MPG, which suggests that those ratings might actually be accurate.
510 English Thoroughbreds
The problem is that 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque in tandem are tempting enough to mean it takes monk-like discipline to lay off the throttle. Nuzzle the gas pedal with your right foot even a little and the car feels like it’s gliding. Honestly the blown engine sends you forward more like a strong wind than something as crass as a V8. Like all things in life, effortless acceleration has its drawbacks: in stop-and-go traffic the Rover’s mileage sank to about 10 MPG.
Then again, the supercharged model (yes both V6 and V8 are supercharged, but the name refers to the larger engine) starts at $101,025 and anyone who can afford that probably isn’t sweating a bloated gasoline bill.
Luxury is priority number one at that point and the Range Rover delivers. Massaging seats and high-quality leather leave little doubt about the price tag and there’s even a chilled center console compartment that you could use to chill miniature bottles of Martinelli. The Meridan sound systems (there are three, of which the loudest has 29 speakers and 1,700 watts of power because healthy eardrums suck) are ideal for everything from taking in Tchaikovsky to drowning in a dubstep wobble.
Spinning the volume dial left and driving over rough pavement exposes a critical flaw with the fourth-generation model. That aluminum unibody I mentioned earlier is splendid at saving weight and partially responsible for the aforementioned effortless feeling of acceleration, but it isn’t perfect.
It shakes over broken roads and sends those vibrations straight into the cabin. The last time we tested the new Range Rover, it was on smooth roads during a press drive. . . not on winter-worn urban paths.
The air suspension keeps you from feeling any of that, but it’s unfortunately audible, which is surprising for a vehicle that could otherwise be compared to a go-anywhere Mercedes S-Class.
Boxy Body Means Big Cargo Space, Right?
Remember when a couple of kids opened a wardrobe door and discovered that what seemed like a closed actually had room for a world called Narnia?
Well, that isn’t the case here because the load floor is especially high to make space for a spare tire. Combined with the fact that your second-row passengers have almost 40 inches of legroom, cargo space isn’t as generous as the imposing body suggests.
Disappointing Touch Screen
The touch screen included in this and other Land Rover products is easy enough to use from a layout perspective. Unfortunately, it responds slowly to user input and that ends up making it feel out of place at best and frustrating at worst. For example, a graphic indicator pops up when you turn the volume dial, but it doesn’t keep up with the speed you spin it.
SEE ALSO: 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Review
But it isn’t all bad. For example, the heated and cooled front seats are controlled by up and down arrows that let you adjust the temperature rather than cycling through intensity settings.
Lighter, less thirsty and loaded with luxury features, the 2014 Land Rover Range Rover marries qualities of a full-size German luxury sedan with go-anywhere capability. It’s enhancements bring downsides, but they are small in comparison to what is otherwise a purely luxurious vehicle to drive.