What has four seats, can climb the side of a mountain and looks right at home at a Hollywood premiere?
Engine: 5.0L supercharged V8 makes 510 HP, 461 lb-ft. of torque
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (US): 14 MPG city, 19 MPG highway, 14.3 MPG observed
Fuel Economy (CDN): 25 L/100 km city, 16.9 L/100 km highway, 16.4 L/100 km observed
Price (US): Starts at $107,920 after destination charges, $146,020 as tested
Price (CDN): Starts at $122,165 after destination charges, $160,905 as tested
The Land Rover Range Rover, of course. But not just any Range Rover will do. For the ultimate in opulence and comfort, there is the 2015 Range Rover Long-Wheelbase (LWB) Autobiography.
Like the extended wheelbase versions of the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the stretched Range Rover is meant for people with chauffeurs as much the driver. Slightly less than eight inches of length has been added to the Range Rover LWB, with most of the extra space found in the rear seat area. This creates a cavernous 47.5 inches of rear seat legroom that allows even the tallest of passengers to stretch out.
Back Seat’s Where It’s At
And if that’s not enough, there is the “Semi-Aniline Rear Executive Class” seat package that transforms the rear seat area from the standard three-person bench to a pair of bucket seats divided by a full length center console. Like the two buckets in the front, these rear seats feature heating, cooling and massage capabilities as well an obscene level of adjustability – the headrests alone can be adjusted eight ways. Yes. Eight.
The massage seat function in the Range Rover may not be as good as Mercedes-Benz’ new system, but I didn’t notice a bothersome difference. If I were a high-powered CEO, it would be a no-brainer for me to pick the Range Rover LWB as my executive ride since the step-in height, head room and overall space in the back is better suited for my needs compared to a luxury-limo sedan. Plus, none of the long wheelbase sedans can match the Range Rovers 32.1 cubic feet of storage space behind the seats.
Aside from a comfortable place to put posteriors, the über Rover also offers rear seat passengers also enjoy dual entertainment screens mounted on the front seat head rests and oodles of storage space in the mammoth center console.
To enter the elongated rear lounge, the back doors are accordingly stretched. Still, it takes a second look to tell the LWB Range Rover apart from regular length models. Aside from those larger doors, the only other giveaway is a “L” badge placed on the front door.
Land Rover has done a tremendous job keeping the unmistakable Range Rover styling on the LWB without it adopting awkward proportions that plague some other stretch-jobs. And, at only 204.7 inches long, the Range Rover LWB is still shorter than a regular length Cadillac Escalade or Lincoln Navigator.
Familiar Power Missing that Familiar Sound
All Long-Wheelbase Range Rovers come equipped with Jaguar Land Rover’s 5.0-liter supercharged V8 making 510 HP and 461 lb-ft. of torque. Sadly, the trademark V8 growl this engine makes in most Jaguar products and the smaller Ranger Rover Sport is missing. I understand the Range Rover LWB Autobiography is designed to be a posh, stately executive shuttle, but the JLR is the bad boy of luxury automakers and a little V8 growl would suit the Range Rover’s persona.
Even if it’s missing the sound, power is still great. There’s a ton of off-the-line grunt and even at highway speeds, there’s a hardy amount of power on tap. That’s impressive when you consider that this is a brick-shaped SUV. Power delivery though isn’t smooth. Nothing happens for the first few millimeters of throttle pedal travel and then the Range Rover lurches to life with a fury. Learning to drive this beast takes some practice and requires slow, smooth inputs.
Quick and Light-ish
Utilizing an eight-speed automatic transmission, full throttle launches should come with a 0-60 MPH time of just 5.5 seconds. A lot of this can be attributed to the Aluminum Range Rover LWB’s relatively light curb weight. Calling a 5,320 lbs. SUV light may seem absurd, but that’s still undercuts the Mercedes-Benz GL 550 by more than 200 lbs., or a whopping 1,000 lbs. lighter than the Navigator L 4X4.
But regardless of any weight savings, big power comes with a big thirst for fuel. Officially rated at 14 MPG city and 19 MPG highway, the Range Rover LWB returned 14.3 MPG. And while I’m on the topic of things the Range Rover isn’t great at, u-turns call for 44 feet, which is worse than the extended length Cadillac Escalade ESV.
Still Gets Down and Dirty
Part of the barge-like turning circle can be attributed to the Range Rover’s always impressive off-road capability. As expected, the long-wheelbase Range Rover still has all the go-anywhere goodies expected of the vaunted model line. There is a two-speed electronic transfer case, permanent four-wheel drive, an electronic locking center differential and active locking rear differential.
Want acronyms? We got acronyms. The Range Rover has HDC, GRC, HAS, DSC, ETC and RSC. Rather than bore you with specifics, all of these work together to help the big luxury barge climb up and down hills while remaining shiny side up.
The real pièce de résistance is the adjustable air suspension. In normal operation, the Range Rover LWB sits with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, the same as a Subaru XV Crosstrek. But put it in off-road mode and the SUV raises up to 11.6 inches of ground clearance, more than a Wrangler Rubicon and a lot more than the Toyota FJ Cruiser Trail Teams Edition. Plus, to help with entry and exit, the Range Rover can also squat down to a lower step-in height.
Crawling over rocks is cool, but the Range Rover LWB really is designed for passenger comfort and here it mostly succeeds. The overall ride is compliant enough, but it could be more comfortable. It bounces harder over some road imperfections than I expected. In order to tackle all of the off-road challenges a Range Rover is known for, some sacrifices have been made in ride quality. But I think with the L model especially, the off-road capabilities should have been dialed back farther to enhance passenger comfort.
The Range Rover Supercharged Long Wheelbase doesn’t come cheap as it starts at $107,920 after destination charges. Add the Autobiography and a few options and comes out $146,020 as tested. That isn’t exactly chump change and plenty of large luxury SUVs can be had much cheaper. But I had the rare opportunity to drive the 2015 Cadillac Escalade the week before the Range Rover LWB and as good as the Cadillac is, the Range Rover is in a completely different league.
Is it worth the extra money? Well, that’s a decision a potential buyer needs to decide but I think a lot of these large, plush, ostentatious executive SUVs will be prowling posh neighborhoods in no time.