2009 Land Rover Range Rover
2009 Land Rover Range Rover Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
Revisions make the best luxury SUV even better.
The Range Rover has been extensively revised for the 2007 model year. The cabin has been redesigned for increased comfort and ease of use and new safety features have been added. Off-road and on-road capability have been enhanced with Land Rover's new Terrain Response system, which makes venturing away from pavement even easier than before. The Range Rover benefitted from new engines and transmissions for 2006.
These changes, which coincide with the 20th anniversary of Range Rover's presence in the American automotive market, continue to improve on what remains the ultimate luxury sport-utility. This top-of-the-line Land Rover offers authentic all-terrain capability combined with a beautiful European-flavor cabin and the latest in safety features.
The 2007 Range Rover is quieter and more comfortable and easier to operate. The cabin benefits from new switchgear, revised air conditioning, redesigned seats and increased noise-reduction measures. Redesigned airbags further improve its safety. Modeled after luxury yachts with gorgeous wood trim and rich leather, the Range Rover cabin is a comfortable place to be.
Driving a Range Rover makes you feel good. It's quiet, smooth and poised on the road or off and makes its occupants feel classy and sophisticated at the same time. It's one of the best luxury vehicles available, counting cars. The Range Rover remains an exclusive vehicle, further adding to its class and panache. It also represents quite a step up from the Range Rover Sport, in our view. It's the ultimate in luxury SUVs.
Exemplary service is also part of the Range Rover experience. Surveys indicate customers are highly satisfied with their Land Rover retailers who pride themselves with taking care of their customers. Our anecdotal evidence backs that up. The Land Rover Centres go beyond those of the typical car dealership, acting as off-road outfitters. They carry accessories and apparel and organize outings. Land Rover's four-year/50,000 mile warranty includes roadside assistance (even where there's no road) and free scheduled maintenance.
The 2007 Range Rover comes in two trim levels, the HSE ($76,535) and Supercharged ($92,035). The HSE is powered by a 305-hp, 4.4-liter V8 engine. The Supercharged gets a 400-hp, 4.2-liter V8.
Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Both also feature permanent four-wheel-drive with a two-speed transfer case and electronic Torsen center differential, all-terrain traction and stability control, Hill Descent Control and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, and now Land Rover's Terrain Response technology.
The HSE comes with three-zone climate control, a 12-way power driver's seat with three memory settings for seat, tilt-and-telescope steering wheel and outside mirrors; 10-way power front passenger's seat; rain-sensing automatic windshield wipers; and voice-control, DVD-based GPS navigation and Harman/Kardon digital surround-sound system with six-disc CD changer and 14 speakers, and Sirius satellite radio (subscription required). Nine exterior colors and six interior pallets are available to choose from.
Options include the Luxury Interior Package ($5,000) with premium leather seating surfaces and dash, 14-way power seats with inflatable lumbar support for the driver and front passenger, cooled-air ventilated front seats, choice of light or dark 12-piece wood trim, adaptive front lighting, auto dimming exterior mirrors and a cargo net. Seven-spoke, 20-inch alloy wheels with a full-size spare are available ($4000). Also available is an electronically controlled infinitely variable locking rear differential ($500). A DVD-based rear-seat entertainment system ($2,500) is optional.
The Supercharged comes with everything in the Luxury Interior Package, plus 20-inch bright-finish aluminum wheels and the locking rear differential. Brakes are upgraded with Brembo calipers in front and vented discs all 'round, in place of the HSE's vented/solid setup. In addition to the HSE's paint and interior choices, two monochromatic interior pallets and an exclusive Grand Black Lacquer wood trim are offered, as are the entertainment package. Brake and accelerator pedals are stainless steel with rubberized inserts.
Safety equipment on all Range Rovers is comprehensive. Nine airbags come standard: front, side, and head airbags for driver and front-seat passenger, as well as head and seat-mounted side airbags for rear outboard passengers, and a special airbag designed to protect the driver's knees. That's in addition to the many active safety features. Also standard are front and rear park distance control and a rearview color television camera, both extremely helpful when backing up, and tire pressure monitors. Security is also a high priority, which means deadlocks and an ultrasonic alarm system. A panic button activates locks for extra security against attacks.
The Range Rover cuts a distinct profile, instantly recognizable as a Range Rover. Its contours are smooth and taut, with just enough curvature to suggest substance and strength. Compared to less exclusive, but more conspicuously massive SUVs, the Range Rover looks trim, muscular, and athletic, like a formidable middleweight fighter next to a costumed television wrestler, a look bolstered by the Range Rover's comparatively short wheelbase and markedly robust approach, break-over and departure angles.
The front end is strong and horizontal, capped by Range Rover's trademark clamshell hood. High-tech lighting clusters housing bi-xenon headlamps (with power washers) wrap around the corners. The optional adaptive headlamps turn several degrees in the same direction as the front tires to better illuminate corners. Punctuating the bumper are two serious-looking round ports with deeply recessed foglamps and a long, horizontal slot feeding air to the engine. Taillights echo the futuristic look of the front and incorporate a bright-light rear foglamp.
Viewed from the side, the latest Range Rover features a high beltline and a flat expanse of sleek metal dramatically slashed by vertical louvers that extract hot air from the back of the engine bay to help cool the engine.
The Supercharged model is set apart by a silver-metallic, mesh-design grille and side vents and monochromatic exterior paint scheme with black-on-silver badging. Dual, chrome exhaust tips signaling the presence of the more powerful engine are set back beneath the rear bumper to maintain the same, ground-clearing departure angle as the HSE.
Ground clearance ranges from a minimum of just under nine inches to just over 11 inches, depending on the height-adjustable suspension's setting.
Underneath the skin is a steel monocoque structure with an integrated chassis that improves ride and handling and gives the Range Rover the ability to tow, haul and tote just about anything on or off road.
Towing capacity with trailer brakes is more than 7700 pounds, for instance, unbraked, almost 1700 pounds, while top governed speed is 120 mph in the HSE, 130 mph in the Supercharged.
The Range Rover features a spacious, well-appointed interior that has been subtly yet extensively revised and updated for the 2007 model year. The interior design was inspired by expensive racing yachts and features gorgeous wood-trimmed dashboard support pillars.
The dashboard, the center console, the interior door panels and even the seats themselves are new. Also new are things you can't see: The cabin is quieter, thanks to triple-laminated of window glass and a revised ventilation system that not only operates more quietly but more efficiently (due in part to a new pump that pushes air to those sitting in the back seat).
New safety measures for 2007 include side airbags relocated from the doors to the seat backs to better achieve optimum protection regardless of whether the seat is forward or aft on its tracks. There's also a new knee-protection bag for the driver. The front passenger's frontal airbag has been revised and now emerges upward and then toward the passenger's seat rather than coming straight out of the dashboard, which should maintain full protection while helping to reduce injuries caused by airbag deployment.
The dashboard and center console feature switchgear that is more intuitive in its placement and operation. The controls also are a little better oriented around the driver.
One of the new controls is the knob that manipulates the Terrain Response system. First introduced in the Land Rover LR3, the system is now on the Range Rover. Terrain Response allows the driver to set a dial to any of five road conditions, from dry pavement to snow to rock crawling. The vehicle's onboard computers and mechanical components then adjust to provide optimum traction for those conditions. One of the five settings is designed for on-road use, three for off-road use, and the other for wet or snowy roads or off-road trails.
The center console features revised and good-sized cup holders for 2007. To free up some real estate for cup holders and Terrain Response controls, the ignition key has been moved from the center console to a more traditional place on the dashboard. Two gloveboxes are provided for storage.
The new seats on 2007 models come not only with the capability of being heated, but also of being cooled. They are covered in sumptuous leather, of course, something we've long enjoyed on Range Rovers.
Front and rear passengers have plenty of room and enjoy not only an elevated view, but all the wood and leather and luxury of a limousine. The Range Rover's ride is smooth and quiet. It's true luxury.
Carrying a lot of gear is no problem. The Range Rover's tailgate is divided horizontally with a shorter-than-traditional bottom half to ease loading and unloading. That bench-like lower half was designed to support the weight of two adults, making this a perfect vehicle for tailgate parties, or for pulling on a set of waders, or for a quick picnic lunch, or any of those other times you might want a tailgate, often good, memorable times.
The rear seats are split 60/40 for versatility when moving cargo and people. Luggage hooks on the floor of the cargo area are designed to keep items secure. The full-size spare tire is stored in a well under the cargo floor.
The DVD-based navigation system features a 7-inch, touch-screen, dash-mounted VGA display and is quite sophisticated. An off-road mode with elevation contours that can guide to a destination, and also track where you have been, laying out electronic bread crumbs, to make it easy to return to your start point. It offers voice-activated commands. It uses a single disc mapping the entire continental United States so there's no need to change when driving across the country.
In addition to the usual trip computer functions such as fuel consumption, range, speed and the like, the Range Rover's instrument panel has an interface that shows what the wheels and suspension are doing and direction of tra.
The 2007 Range Rover upholds its legendary off-road capability, yet with equally civilized road handling. It doesn't lean much in corners, making it enjoyable on winding roads.
Our jaunts through Northern California wine country, along the state's northern coast, throughout the Monterey Peninsula and on various highways and freeways in the 2007 Range Rover were delightful and comfortable. Freeways and urban traffic were conquered with ease and smoothness. Off-pavement obstacles showcased the Range Rover's ability to live up to its name in the woods, around quarries or seemingly anywhere a four-wheel vehicle might venture.
As boxy and upright as the Range Rover is, it is remarkably quiet, its beefed up sound deadening and laminated side window glass blocking nearly all outside noises.
The Range Rover's superb balance of ride and handling is the result of a highly refined and interconnected air suspension that allows softer spring rates for enhanced on-road comfort and an adjustable ride height over a range of some two inches. This system allows both serious off-roading and the courteous lowering of the ride height to make it easier for passengers to get in and out, a nice feature for shorter, older passengers and for social outings around town. An Access setting can be pre-selected so the body lowers to the desired height as the Range Rover rolls to a stop, avoiding having passengers wait while it kneels.
The Jaguar-based 4.4-liter V8 in the HSE is more powerful, more fuel efficient and cleaner than the BMW engine it replaced for 2006. It produces 305 horsepower at 5750 rpm and 325 pound-feet of torque at 4100 rpm. The Range Rover HSE can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just over 9 seconds, quicker than the 2005 model with the BMW-based engine. The top speed is electronically limited to 124 mph. The Jaguar engine is clean and is EPA-rated at 14/18 mpg City/Highway.
The supercharged 4.2-liter V8, also from Jaguar, increases the output to 400 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. Even so, fuel economy is EPA-rated 13/18 mpg, and we saw 16-17 over the course of our driving. Land Rover says the Supercharged model can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph time in 7.1 seconds with top speed governed at 130 mph. Though stately in its performance, the Supercharged model is noticeably quicker, both in accelerating off the line and when it comes to passing other traffic.
Both V8s are mated to a the latest-generation, ZF six-speed automatic transmission featuring CommandShift, one of the more flexible manual override systems in the luxury market. In the Range Rover, CommandShift can operate in both the high and low ranges of the transfer case for use on or off road. It will upshift when in manual mode but not until engine redline, and in deference to off-roaders' occasional need for low, borderline-lugging engine speed, it delays downshifting until just before the engine's stall point. When in automatic Sport mode, the transmission employs slightly higher shift points and downshifts more readily. Your can sometimes feel it drop down a gear halfway through a corner to gain a sweeter spot in the engine's power curve.
Speaking of tracking through corners, for 2007 the HSE gets the same suspension setup as the Supercharged version. That means the suspension is some 30 percent stiffer in front and 100 percent in the rear, reducing body roll by some 15 percent in cornering. Ride, however, remains smooth and quiet when cruising down the highway.
Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are backed by Emergency Brake Assist, which applies full braking force in a panic stop even if the driver mistakenly relaxes brake pedal pressure, and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), which helps reduce stopping distances by balancing braking forces front to rear.
The Range Rover is also equipped with Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), which helps drivers stay on their intended course by preventing a skid. This electr.
The Range Rover may be the ultimate in style, prestige, luxury, and off-road capability in a sport utility. Upgrades for 2007 keep it in contention for best in class. The Range Rover offers European style and pedigree, which isn't available at Lexus or Infiniti. It offers off-road capability and cargo space that BMW X5 drivers can only dream about. Not even the new Mercedes-Benz GL-Class competes with the Range Rover in on-road luxury or off-road prowess. In short, the 2007 Range Rover enhances its reputation as the standard to which other SUVs aspire. It is a pleasure to drive and it's easy on the eyes. For many, it truly is the SUV world champion.
New Car Test Drive correspondents Larry Edsall and Tom Lankard contributed to this report based on test drives in Northern California.
Land Rover Range Rover HSE ($76,535); Supercharged ($92,035).
Options As Tested
Range Rover Supercharged ($92,035).
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