2011 Land Rover Range Rover
2011 Land Rover Range Rover Expert Review:Autoblog
Prior to our stint with the 2011 Range Rover Supercharged, we enjoyed some time with a Jaguar XKR. The Jag and the Rover have the same supercharged 5.0-liter V8 and about the same six-figure price tag, which led a friend to ask which vehicle we'd prefer to own. Without hesitation, this author's answer is the one you'd willingly take off-road. The supercharged Rover has more than enough power to be an exhilarating drive, is extremely capable off road and has room to spare for family, friends, pets, groceries and golf clubs. It just makes more sense than the Jag. Sense, however, usually doesn't factor in when you're making a four-wheeled wish list, so we took our friend for a ride, after which he hopped out with a smirk and said, "I'd take the Rover, too..."
This particular Landie is the latest iteration of Land Rover's most famous sport utility vehicle. Sold alongside the same model with a naturally aspirated version of its 5.0-liter V8, the Supercharged is perhaps not as visually athletic to behold as the Range Rover Sport, or the Jaguar XKR for that matter, but it's just as powerful as both and can carry more cargo. Which makes the 2011 Range Rover Supercharged an Alex Trebec-approved answer to the clue, "A $102,365 vehicle famous for off-roading that does things on road you didn't know it could."
Photos copyright ©2010 Jeff Glucker / AOL
The Range Rover received a major overhaul in 2002, and Land Rover has refined and tweaked the vehicle ever since to keep it fresh. It was significantly updated for the 2010 model year, which coincided with the 5.0-liter V8's arrival, a delightful engine that has found its way under the hood of most Land Rover and Jaguar products. For 2011, the Range Rover has again been tweaked, but with a lighter touch and only where it matters most. Let's start with the outside.
Range Rovers have always been boxy, like the auto industry's take on a bar of gold: simple, heavy and expensive. Its upright grille and vertical slabs of sheetmetal accentuate its towering presence, as the rest of the lines move backward in a perfectly parallel manner. Look closer, however, and you'll see the designers have built in a few subtle curves, most noticeably in the slight hood creases and subtly flared fenders filled by 20-inch, 10-spoke aluminum alloy wheels. 2011 models also sport new headlamps and a set of LED taillamps that turn from bright to brilliant when the sun retires.
While the exterior of the Range Rover Supercharged melds tradition with the modern era, its interior pushes further into the future. The tech-laden cabin is incredibly welcoming and swathed in a mixture of top-shelf textures. Like metal? You'll enjoy the shifter, pedals and countless metal accents throughout the cabin. In the case of our tester, you'll also find a dark Black Lacquer Finish trim that contrasts nicely with the shiny bits. Finally, an abundance of soft Ivory-colored leather creates a transition between the other two materials and adds some warmth to the cabin. Our tester also featured Arabica Oxford hides with contrasting stitching and white piping on the seats. The cornucopia of colors and textures works surprisingly well; owners who have interior decorators on retainer should feel right at home.
The Range Rover's high seating position and abundance of glass provide lighthouse attendant levels of visibility, while the power-adjustable front seats are a Recaro-meets-La-Z-Boy mix of capable and comfortable. They also offer both heating and cooling to help keep bottom temperatures in the zone. When the latter is switched on, the cooling fans are clearly audible, but that's the price you pay for cold buns. Back seat passengers may miss out on the cooling experience, but the heated rear seats are adequate for people over six-feet tall and also recline.
Located in the center of the dashboard sits a clean stack of controls that mimics the upright nature of the Land Rover's exterior. Its borders run vertically up from the transmission tunnel, disappearing for a brief moment behind a stretch of Ivory leather, and then reappear to frame the touchscreen interface. That seven-inch display is crisp and the menus easy to operate – the learning curve is minimal despite the multitude of features available. One of those is the optional upgraded HarmonKardon audio system with 1200 watts of clear surround sound joy pumped through 19 speakers. We took a spin through a varied music catalog courtesy of local FM stations, satellite radio and an iPod, with each audio source coming through crisply, even when the volume knob was set to Pete Townsend. The one sour note we experienced was the longer-than-normal delay when switching between satellite radio stations, a complaint we seem to have with all Land Rover and Jaguar vehicles that share the same infotainment architecture.
With last year's upgrades, Land Rover elected to ditch the instrument panel's analog gauges in favor of a new 12.3-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) screen. These digital gauges are incredibly easy to read during the day or night and also feature a menu to adjust a variety of vehicle settings. While digital gauges go all the way back to the '80s, today's versions are more like small computer screens running sophisticated software than the Timex-inspired iterations of yesteryear. As such, we asked Land Rover what would happen if the Range Rover's TFT malfunctioned and were told one of two outcomes were possible. The vehicle would still be drivable if just the screen went out, but if there were a major malfunction with the entire instrument pack, which feeds information to the vehicle's security system, then it may not start.
The Range Rover SC's interior and tech are top notch, but one thing we need to take issue with is the key fob. It's roughly the size and weight of a bar of Lava soap. That wouldn't be that bad if the key could stay in your pocket, but the Range Rover doesn't sense the key when you approach, so it must be taken out to unlock the doors. This sounds like we're whining about a very minor problem, and we are, but if a $20,000 Nissan Altima knows when we're standing next to it, a $103,000 luxury SUV should be able to do the same.
The key issue disappears quickly, however, once the supercharged 5.0-liter V8 is lit and you're underway. A brand-new six-speed automatic transmission sends all 510 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque to the rubber sitting at each corner, with peak torque available from 2,500 rpm through 5,550 rpm. This Rover pulls like it's drinking diesel, and even sounds a bit like it at idle. When we could pry our ears away from the sound system, we even heard the faint whine of the supercharger. The run to 60 miles per hour from a standstill takes place in a hair under six seconds – surprisingly exciting for a stylish brick that weighs a key-fob under 5,900 pounds.
While the engine works its magic, the Range Rover Supercharged's air suspension also has a multitude of tricks up its sleeve that range from basic to brilliant. On the standard side of the ledger, it can raise or lower the 'ute from its normal driving height of 9.1 inches. Access height drops the car a few inches to help folks get in and out, while Off-road Mode increases ground clearance by two inches to 11.1. On the brilliant end of the spectrum is Terrain Response. If you're using a Range Rover the way the blokes from Gaydon intended, then you'll encounter road conditions other than flat and smooth. Terrain Response is ready to help out with settings for Rock Crawl, Mud and Ruts, Sand, Grass/Gravel/Snow and the standard roadgoing setting. It sounds gimmicky, but works wonderfully. The system controls the vehicle's braking, throttle response and engine speed to make sure the Range Rover goes exactly where you intend.
Since many owners rarely stray off the beaten path, Land Rover has honed its SUV to be just as competent on the road. Remember the guy shaped like a house who threw discus back in high school? Now imagine him in a foot race with Usain Bolt. That's what it feels like driving the Range Rover Supercharged. When your shoe meets the gas and the pedal hits the carpet, your back meets the seat and your brain takes a shot of dopamine. It's an intoxicating process that you'll want to repeat over and over. This, of course, came back to bite us at the gas pump, where we recorded an average fuel economy of just 10 miles per gallon. The 2011 Range Rover Supercharged is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency at 12 mpg in the city and 19 on the highway, both of which we're sure is possible when less fun is being had behind the wheel.
That all-new six-speed automatic does a sublime job of channeling power to the wheels, particularly in Sport mode, where the gear changes happen quickly, but don't snap necks against headrests. When the speed needs to be reeled in, gargantuan 15-inch front rotors with six-piston calipers and 14.4-inch discs at the back will have you straining against physics... and your seat belt.
All told, this latest incarnation of the Range Rover Supercharged has evolved nicely without losing sight of where it comes from. But does a $103,000 SUV make sense? When compared to something like the Jaguar XKR, a good argument can certainly be made. Most buyers, however, are going to cross shop the Range Rover Supercharged with vehicles like the BMW X5 M, Porsche Cayenne Turbo and Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG. All feature similar price tags around the $100,000 mark, big V8s with over 500 horsepower and driving experiences that confound expectations. Yes, the Range Rover is the heaviest in this group and also the slowest. But it also offers the most interior cargo room, is by no means tardy, and comes packing an English manor full of enviable off-road lineage and character as standard-fit.
If those qualities matter more to you than owning the quickest premium sport-ute, then this $103,000 SUV still makes a degree of sense. However, when it comes to talking about triple-digit SUVs, 'sense' probably never enters into the minds of would-be customers. But when one can afford to view life from a Range Rover's regal perch, they can also afford not to care – and that may be the greatest luxury of all.
Photos copyright ©2010 Jeff Glucker / AOL
New Car Test Drive
The quintessential luxury all-terrain vehicle.
The Range Rover was substantially re-engineered for the 2010 model year, with a new engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, a more luxurious interior, and redesigned instrumentation.
For 2011, Range Rover has been upgraded with Hill Start Assist and Gradient Acceleration Control, two new features added to enhance the sophisticated electronic Terrain Response system. Also, the 2011 Range Rover gets a new grille design and the addition of functional side vents. Power reclining rear seats and a 1200-watt harman/kardon sound system are new options available on 2011 Range Rover models.
Also new for 2011 is a supercharged Autobiography Black 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Range Rover.
Range Rover represents the top of the line for Land Rover, the old-line British manufacturer acquired in 2009 by the Indian industrial giant Tata. There are 60 years of development behind today's Land Rovers. The Range Rover is larger and more luxurious than the Range Rover Sport and Land Rover LR4.
The Range Rover's off-road capability is downright astounding, thanks to its exotic electronic all-wheel-drive and sophisticated suspension system, together called Terrain Response. Though seldom called upon to do so, Range Rovers can scramble up rocky mountainsides, cross rivers and traverse mud bogs. Land Rover admits that they over-engineer their SUVs, because they can. It instills owners' confidence in their vehicles and in Land Rover's ability to build the most capable SUVs in the land. Land Rover sales have been booming, with the Range Rover in great demand.
The Range Rover interior is rich and beautiful. There are premium materials everywhere you look and touch. The leather seats are tall and supportive in all the right places, and there is a nearly infinite amount of adjustment. The steering wheel carries buttons galore for cruise control, telephone and audio, two of which are up-down-left-right selectors for display and information functions. All the rotary switches on the instrument panel are hefty, and scalloped so they can be used with gloved hands.
The compact 5.0-liter V8 engine that made its debut in the 2010 Range Rover has been a hit. Designed by Jaguar, this engine replaces the Ford V8 that Ranger Rover had been using. It makes 375 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque, which is plenty for anyone in the real world, and delivers acceleration of 0-60 in 7.2 seconds, impressive for a 5700-pound vehicle. We found the engine beautifully smooth.
But still, Range Rover offers the Supercharged model, which blows 510 horsepower out of the engine and gets to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. We found the performance of the Supercharged Range Rover scintillating. It's an off-road rocket ship, with 460 foot-pounds of torque available for passing or towing.
The Supercharged uses powerful six-piston Brembo brakes, which will slow the truck safely whether braking repeatedly down a curvy mountain road or coming to a straight, quick stop from high speed. Naturally, they're supported by a sophisticated anti-lock brake system that's behind Hill Descent Control and the new Gradient Acceleration Control. Both are features that enhance safety on icy streets, not just off road.
We've found few four-wheel-drive vehicles combine this level of acceleration and braking with a hushed, plush highway ride in a roomy cocoon of high-grade leather and wood. Whether crossing the Gobi Desert at night or parking at Greenwich station for the train into New York on a wintry morning, the Range Rover is at ease.
The 2011 Range Rover HSE ($78,835) comes standard with leather upholstery, 720-watt 14-speaker harman/kardon sound system, hard-drive navigation with 7-inch touch screen, rearview camera, high-intensity discharge headlights, front and rear foglights, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, three-zone automatic climate control, power sunroof.
Options include rear seat entertainment ($2500); adaptive cruise control with brake assist ($2000); Vision Assist package, including blind spot monitoring, adaptive headlamps, surround camera and high-beam assist ($1800); 1200-watt, 19-speaker harman/kardon sound system ($1700); 20-inch wheels ($1500); locking rear differential ($1300); power reclining rear seat ($1250); and more upgrades in interior leather and wood trim. The Luxury Interior Package ($4600) upgrades the HSE with 14-way heated and cooled front seats, premium leather, wood trim on the center console, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, and 20-inch wheels.
Range Rover Supercharged ($94,615) comes with the supercharged engine, the big Brembo brakes, Adaptive Dynamics (continuously variable suspension tuning), the 14-way adjustable front seats, more interior wood trim, stainless steel pedals, and chrome exhaust tips.
Special trim is available, including the Autobiography Package ($21,485) for the Supercharged model, which upgrades with 1200-watt 19-speaker harman/kardon 6CD, HD radio, semi-aniline leather seats, full leather trim, special headliner, vanity mirrors, 14-piece wood trim, four-zone climate control, rear seat entertainment system with 6DVD changer, adaptive cruise control with Brake Assist, diamond-turned 20-inch wheels, special trim.
Safety features that come standard include seven airbags, stability control with traction control and yaw control, anti-lock brakes, Hill Descent Control, Acceleration Gradient Control, tire pressure monitor, collapsible steering column, and rearview camera.
For the 2010 redesign, the hood, grille, fenders, lamps, air intakes, side vents, mirrors, front and rear LED lamps, and bumpers were made sleeker. So we didn't expect more changes in 2011, but the mesh in the grille and vents has been changed for 2011 to something more diamond-shaped and starry, that Range Rover calls a Jupiter pattern.
The Range Rover body is iconic, and needs no description. Its shape is distinctive in the SUV world, boxy and sleek at the same time. Totally classy.
It has the shortest possible front and rear overhangs to maintain its awesome off-road clearances, and its fender flares were widened for 2010, integrated into the steel fenders rather than tacked on.
The Range Rover interior is rich and beautiful. Premium materials are everywhere you look and touch. There's European leather on the headliner, pillars, and door casings. High quality satin black and natural wood trim adds to the sumptuous feel of the interior. The HSE offers Burr Walnut or Cherry wood trim and both are pretty. The Grand Black Lacquer looks impressive when clean, but it quickly shows dirt and we prefer the traditional woods.
A 12-inch Thin Film Transistor screen replaces the usual instrument cluster. This screen displays the tach, speedo and other instruments virtually. The driver is able to move the gauges around on the screen for more convenient off-road operation. It's bright, clear, interesting and versatile.
The front leather seats are tall and supportive in all the right places, and there is a nearly infinite amount of adjustment. The steering wheel carries buttons galore for cruise control, telephone and audio, two of which are up-down-left-right selectors for display and information functions. All the rotary switches on the instrument panel are hefty, and scalloped so they can be used with gloved hands.
The window glass in the rear doors is laminated to enhance the silent running in the back seat. Power reclining of the rear seat, in addition to heating and cooling, is available.
The 720-watt, 14-speaker harman/kardon system that comes standard produces chamber-like sound. 2011 brings an optional 1200-watt 19-speaker system. The available rear seat entertainment system includes a 6 DVD changer, separate screens in the front seatbacks, and headphones.
The Terrain Response system, controlled by a click-wheel on the console, allows the driver to select among six chassis setups, depending on the terrain being traversed. Height control allows the driver to lower the body of the Range Rover for easy entry of passengers or raise it for off-road clearance. A third control allows for locking the center and rear differentials for demanding off-road conditions or icy on-road driving. There is a separate switch for Hill Descent Control, the system that restricts downhill speed to 2 mph on any grade without touching the brakes. In any off-road mode, a set of icons is displayed on the TFT screen showing the front tire steering angle and the locked/unlocked differential positions, so the driver always knows what's what when driving off-road.
Using the height control to lower the Range Rover is a great aid when loading dogs and cargo.
All 2010 Range Rover models use the new and compact 5.0-liter V8 that powers Jaguar sedans, with the latest technology including double overhead cams, 32 valves, variable valve timing, and direct fuel injection.
The Range Rover HSE uses a normally aspirated 375 horsepower version with 375 foot-pounds of torque. It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, a pace that's more than quick enough for safe passing. The engine sounds wonderful and feels blissfully smooth at full throttle, and is nearly soundless at cruising speeds.
The Range Rover Supercharged takes that engine and adds the latest generation of Eaton supercharger, boosting the power to 510 horsepower and 461 foot-pounds of torque. That's 28 percent more power and 12 percent more torque than the previous 4.2-liter supercharged engine, with 12 percent better fuel economy and cleaner emissions. The acceleration leaps from 0 to 60 in 5.8 seconds, which is hot rod territory, for this SUV weighing nearly three tons.
All models use a ZF 6-speed automatic transmission, which features Normal, Sport and Manual modes. We found it effortless and unrestrained, and it shifts quickly in response to throttle input. There's a two-speed locking transfer case that can be shifted on the fly.
The steering and suspension systems are nearly faultless, as long as you're not trying to treat the big SUV like it's a sports car. Lots of power-steering assist is needed for quick left-right moves at low speeds and off-road, but less is needed as speeds climb. The Range Rover is a tall, heavy vehicle, but it takes extreme maneuvers in stride. It works better to drive it in a stately manner.
We found the ride quality of the Range Rover HSE to be about perfect. The suspension uses electronically controlled air springs and shock absorbers. We found the HSE provided excellent handling and little body roll in corners, especially for a hefty truck that rides this high off the ground and has a high center of gravity. The ride is smooth and the steering response is good, if not sports-car-like. It's a wonderful mix of luxury, silence and serenity.
But it should be. Listen to all the things working for you: Dynamic systems include All-terrain Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Enhanced Understeer Control (EUC), Electronic Rear Brake Boost (ERBB), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Roll Stability Control (RSC), Hill Descent Control (HDC) and Gradient Release Control (GRC), Hill Start Assist (HSA) and Gradient Acceleration Control (GAC). It's a lot of alphabet soup, but it all works together both to increase capability and to make up for occasional deficiencies in the driving department.
The Terrain Response system has five settings: Highway, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand, and Rock Crawl. All you have to do is look out the windshield, assess the terrain, and select the appropriate setting. The Range Rover will drive accordingly, including setting the suspension height.
We also got to test drive a Range Rover Supercharged model. Just going down the highway, it was delightful. The huge tires are very quiet, and they combine with the electronically controlled air suspension and premium Bilstein Damptronic adaptive damping shock absorbers to deliver an extremely plush luxury-car ride, sampling the roadway 500 times per second and changing shock rates accordingly, each corner acting independently of the other three.
In consideration of its 140-mph top speed, the brakes on the Supercharged are big Brembos, with six-piston calipers in front. We found them extremely powerful, and very progressive and sensitive to conditions. They are a great piece of kit.
The 2011 Range Rover is luxurious, powerful, smooth, classy and extremely safe, with offroad capability that's off the chart and handling that's downright nimble for a 5700-pound truck. It uses a successful new 5.0-liter V8 made by Jaguar, with an excellent 6-speed automatic transmission. The standard Range Rover HSE has plenty of performance. The Supercharged model makes 510 horsepower and blows your mind.
Sam Moses contributed to this report after his test drive of a 2011 Range Rover in Colorado; with Jim McCraw reporting from Eastnor Castle, England.
Range Rover HSE ($78,835); Supercharged ($94,615).
Options As Tested
Range Rover HSE ($78,835).
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