Range Rover is the biggest member of the Land Rover family, the flagship for the brand, a luxurious sport-utility vehicle with a breadth of capability allowing it to excel in conditions ranging from slippery, rugged terrain to high speeds on dry or wet highways.
New for the model year is the 2017 Range Rover SV Autobiography Dynamic debuts, evolved from the previous SV Autobiography. Also, 2017 Range Rovers come with a new 10.2-inch dual-view touchscreen display. Advanced Tow Assist and Low Traction Launch are new for 2017. A new system can read speed-limit signs and, if cruise control is active, adjust vehicle speed accordingly.
Building upon its heritage, the current generation, launched as a 2012 model, delivers posh amenities, on-road performance, or off-road potential that few, if any, vehicles can match. The Range Rover is larger than the Range Rover Sport or the small Evoque.
Range Rover buyers get four engine choices: a V6, two V8s, and a turbodiesel. The gasoline engines are supercharged. In the short-wheelbase model, the standard 3.0-liter V6 develops 340 horsepower (380 in HSE trim). Supercharged and Autobiography models, with a choice of standard or extended wheelbase, upgrade to a 5.0-liter V8, rated at 510 horsepower. Topping the gas-engine lineup is a 550-horsepower version of the V8, in the new SV Autobiography Dynamic. Yielding 502 pound-feet of torque, it’s the most powerful Range Rover ever produced for sale.
The 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 may be even more impressive, generating a burly 443 pound-feet while achieving an EPA-estimated 28 mpg on its Highway cycle. Diesel performance is comparable to the gasoline V6.
All four engines mate with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Permanent four-wheel drive incorporates multi-mode traction control. A Terrain Response 2 system is grouped with convenience features in an optional Vision Assist package. Included in that group is an automatic mode for the traction control system, which can actually predict the grip capacity of the surface ahead and respond appropriately.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash-tested the Range Rover. Safety is clearly helped by the SUV’s exceedingly stiff structure, achieved by gluing and then riveting its aircraft-type aluminum sections.
All Range Rovers include a surround-view camera system and automatic emergency braking. Optional safety features on HSE and Supercharged include blind-spot monitoring, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and an automatic parking assistant. Autobiography models get the complete suite of safety technology.
The 2017 Range Rover comes in short-wheelbase and long-wheelbase versions. All gas-engine models are supercharged. All models come with an 8-speed automatic and permanent four-wheel drive.
Range Rover V6 ($85,650) comes with the 340-horsepower V6 engine, grained leather seats, 19-inch alloy wheels, 380-watt Meridian audio system. Range Rover HSE ($92,650) adds a panoramic moonroof, heated front/rear seats, upgraded leather, air-conditioned front seats, and 20-inch wheels.
Range Rover Supercharged ($103,895) features the 510-horsepower V8 and adds 21-inch wheels and Terrain Response 2 Auto traction control. Range Rover V8 Supercharged LWB ($108,895) is the long-wheelbase version of the Supercharged V8 model.
Range Rover Autobiography ($140,995) includes semi-aniline leather, power rear seats, a suede headliner, and a 1700-watt Meridian audio system. Two separate seats can be substituted for the standard second-row bench. Range Rover Autobiography also comes in the long-wheelbase version ($145,995).
Range Rover Autobiography Dynamic ($170,995) gets the 550-horsepower V8 and performance extras, as well as unique upholstery. Also included are four-zone climate control, memory seats, and massage functions. It comes in a long-wheelbase version ($199,950).
Range Rover Td6 Diesel ($87,650) uses the turbodiesel engine and is available in HSE trim ($94,650).
Today’s Range Rover retains some classic design touches, blended with modern aerodynamic influences. Even the base model exudes an imposing appearance, while Autobiography editions add subtle styling elements. Either way, the Range Rover is easily recognizable at a glance, with a smartly classy aura that conveys self-assured strength.
Critics might say that the current version is less audacious than some competitors. Unlike some of them, however, the Range Rover hasn’t veered too far away from its traditional form. Long-wheelbase versions are almost 8 inches longer than their standard-wheelbase mates.
If any vehicle indisputably deserves a full score of 10 for stunning cabin accommodations, it’s the Range Rover. Each model delivers prodigious comfort for up to five passengers. Even the base upholstery is trimmed with soft leather.
Head room, leg space, and shoulder room excel in both front and rear. Judged by the view ahead, the driver’s position comes mighty close to perfection. Abundant glass and a low dashboard help provide unmatched views both forward and toward either side.
Long-wheelbase models have an extra 7.3 inches of back-seat legroom. An Executive Class option, available on some long-wheelbase models, reconfigures the cabin to four seats, adding a carefully-detailed central console.
Even a Range Rover can have a flaw or two. For one, the touchscreen’s interface can be obtuse to use. Few actual buttons are present, but big, twin LCD screens take the place of traditional gauges and control infotainment functions.
Piloting a Range Rover, you expect off-road abilities that reach well above the SUV pack, and that’s precisely what you get. At the same time, its prowess on paved roads and freeways is at least as impressive. Overall performance, ride comfort, and handling talents all qualify as stellar. Long stretches of pavement might produce an easygoing sensation. But when the road (or lack of same) grows challenging, the Range Rover maintains its composure and unrestrained confidence.
Maneuvering through traffic, the massive Range Rover remains poised and yields a supple, gratifying ride. Credit goes to its advanced suspension, based upon air springs and adaptive dampers. That air suspension is adept at coping admirably with even the worst highway conditions, and it smoothly manages rough roads, abrupt driveway transitions and other daily challenges.
Most buyers might be wholly content with the base V6 engine.
The turbodiesel feels muscular underway, while achieving greater fuel economy, but it doesn’t have the immediate responsiveness of the gasoline engines.
Stepping up to the 510-horsepower V8 reduces 0-60 mph acceleration time by 2 seconds, compared to the gas V6. Dynamic Response, using active anti-roll bars and standard on supercharged V8 models, helps counteract body lean while taking corners. It also feels more responsive when gliding around town.
Off-road, low-range helps the big Range Rover climb or ease down seriously steep grades. Wheel travel is considerable at 10.2 inches front and 12.2 inches rear, and the adaptive air suspension can raise ground clearance to 12.2 inches.
For what you get, fuel economy isn’t bad. The gas V6 is EPA-rated at 17/23 mpg City/Highway, or 19 mpg Combined. Picking a V8 drops the estimate to 14/19 mpg City/Highway, or 16 mpg combined. Way thriftier is the diesel, EPA-rated at 22/28 mpg City/Highway, or 24 mpg Combined. Each V8 includes an automatic stop/start system.
The Range Rover comes abundantly equipped and trimmed in an appealing mixture of tradition and modernity, with off-road skills that are seldom matched. Though it is a sport-utility, the Range Rover compares well to most any luxury vehicle, be it an SUV or a luxury sedan or sports sedan.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.