WASHINGTON — It’s been awhile since I have seen the big Range Rover, but during that time I’ve driven other large luxury SUVs that try to move in on the Range Rover’s parade. Land Rover has been updating its flagship model and it’s time to see what changed for the new year.
One of the problems I always had with the Range Rover and the small Range Rover Sport was the infotainment and NAV system. So I am happy to see that it is updated and quicker than before. The NAV seemed to point me in the right direction more often; the graphics still aren’t the best, but it’s improved.
The interior is large and airy with plenty of space for five. While it may not be as exciting as some of the competition, the interior is serene. The Oxford leather seats look nice in the dark Espresso color and they offer many power adjustments to get that seating position just right. The front seats have heat and ventilation and the rear seats are heated.
The interior also features real wood and aluminum trim pieces. The shift knob pops out of the center console when you start the engine. With two rows and seating for five, the cargo area is large. There’s a two-piece tailgate with the bottom half folding down and the top half opening up. I like it this way; it eliminates dirtying your clothes by brushing up against the vehicle while leaning in to load or unload items.
The Range Rover has several options for engines from a turbo diesel for improved fuel economy: the standard supercharged V6 or you can level up to the supercharged V8 engine to increase the performance and fuel use. My Range Rover HSE had the base supercharged V6, which is good for 380 horsepower and adequate for most situations. I didn’t tow anything but I did fill all the seats and stuffed the back full of gear for a family trip. The smaller engine did fine keeping up with the flow of traffic. I wanted the V8 only when passing on a two-lane road.
Fuel economy was 19.2 mpg, which is better than the V8 version I tested in the past. The ride is forgiving, with heavier steering than most of the others in the larger luxury SUV class. Bumps are dealt with easily by the air suspension and there is a lot of glass for a nice view around you.
Handling is geared toward luxury. You feel the weight when you try to push it in corners and experience some body lean. But for a larger vehicle, it’s easy to drive in the city. I was surprised how small the turning radius is when I made a U-turn. With full-time four-wheel-drive and terrain response, which allows you to choose the off-roading, you’ll want to try it — it will set up the vehicle for you. I did some off-roading; 25 degree bank angle and steep hills are simple with this impressive machine.
Outside, the Range Rover is still a stately British icon, but with a more modern twist. The edges are more rounded than Range Rovers of the past; you know almost immediately that this is the high dollar flagship from Land Rover. It looks like an expensive vehicle, but it doesn’t shout for attention.
My HSE model is on the lower scale for Range Rover trim levels at just $93,645. I have seen a few Range Rovers near $200,000, so my tester was a bargain without looking like it. The bright trim pieces are kept to a tasteful minimum with just the grill and a few pieces on the body too, which nicely offset the Kaikoura Stone paint color. The Rover I drove wore its brown color well.
The 20-inch wheels aren’t the largest offered for a Range Rover but it’s a nice compromise of style and offers a bit of an improved ride thanks to the larger tires fitted to a smaller wheel.
The Range Rover HSE is still the king of cool that coddles you on the normal commute and is ready to tackle just about anything on or off road. With a supercharged V6 engine, you can enjoy a Range Rover at less than six figures and still have all the luxury you expect. Go explore; just remember to tread lightly.
Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.