2012 Land Rover Range Rover
2012 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
Luxurious and capable, the ultimate Range Rover.
The Range Rover represents the top of the line for Land Rover. The current-generation Range Rover has been with us nearly 10 years, since the 2003 model year, yet it still feels fresh, it still feels like a superb vehicle, and it's still one of our favorite new vehicles. It's classy and luxurious, it's smooth, it's incredibly powerful particularly in supercharged form, and it is amazingly capable off road.
The 2012 Range Rover lineup includes a new top-line model called the Autobiography Ultimate Edition. Swathed in soft-feel semi-aniline leather, its four power-adjustable bucket seats flank a full-length console that incorporates a machined aluminum laptop table, a drink chiller, separate rear-seat climate controls and more. Two Apple iPads are linked to the rear-seat entertainment system. Oxford leather covers the door casings, dashboard, and steering wheel, and the wood inlays in the dash and doors is genuine Kalahari. Even the luggage floor is special, paneled like speedboat's deck in teak, with metal and leather detailing. Each Autobiography Ultimate Edition will be built to order, and only 500 will be sold globally.
2012 Range Rovers come with HD Radio and an iPod lead, and a new Towing Package is available.
The Range Rover's off-road capability is downright astounding, thanks to its Terrain Response electronic all-wheel drive and suspension system. The system includes Hill Start Assist and Gradient Acceleration Control. Range Rovers can scramble up rocky mountainsides, cross rivers and traverse mud bogs. They are easy to drive and instill confidence.
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. Options include power reclining rear seats and a 1200-watt harman/kardon sound system.
For 2012, the 5.0-liter V8 engine offers more power, now rated at 385 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. Land Rover says it can accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 7.2 seconds. That is plenty fast for anyone in the real world, and plenty impressive for a 5700-pound vehicle. We found the engine beautifully smooth.
The Range Rover Supercharged model blows 510 horsepower out of the engine and gets to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. We found the performance of the Supercharged Range Rover scintillating. It's an off-road rocket ship, with 460 pound-feet of torque available for passing or towing.
All Range Rover models come with a 6-speed automatic transmission that's velvety smooth yet very responsive.
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 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 negotiating Manhattan during the daily rush, the Range Rover is at ease.
The 2012 Range Rover HSE ($80,725) comes standard with leather upholstery, 710-watt 14-speaker harman/kardon sound system, hard-drive navigation with 7-inch touch screen, rearview camera, Xenon headlights, front and rear foglights, heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, three-zone automatic climate control, power sunroof.
Options include rear seat entertainment ($2,500); Vision Assist Package, including blind spot monitoring, adaptive headlamps, surround camera and high-beam assist ($1,800); a 1200-watt, 19-speaker harman/kardon sound system ($1,350); and a Tow Prep/Utility Package ($2,000) consisting of a locking rear differential, full-size spare tire and Adaptive Dynamics suspension.
The Luxury Package ($4,370) upgrades the HSE with 14-way heated and cooled front seats, premium leather, wood trim on the center console, storage in center and overhead consoles, Sirius satellite radio, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, storage nets, and 20-inch wheels.
Range Rover Supercharged ($95,670) comes with the supercharged engine, the big Brembo brakes, Adaptive Dynamics (continuously variable suspension tuning), 14-way adjustable front seats, more interior wood trim, stainless steel pedals, and chrome exhaust tips.
Supercharged models and HSE models with the Luxury Package share a number of options, including power reclining rear seats with memory ($1,250); and the new Silver Package ($3,300) consisting of the 1200-watt stereo, Windsor leather seating surfaces, four-zone climate control with climate glass, and unique 20-inch, seven-V-spoke alloy wheels. Exclusive to the Supercharged model is adaptive cruise control with Collision Mitigation by Braking ($2000).
Range Rover Autobiography ($126,665) builds on the Supercharged model with its own unique styling, plus the 1200-watt 19-speaker harman/kardon 6CD HD radio; semi-aniline leather seats with heat and climate control, front and rear; full leather trim; special headliner; 14-piece wood trim; four-zone climate control; rear seat entertainment system with 6DVD changer; adaptive cruise control with Collision Mitigation by Braking; and diamond-turned 20-inch wheels. Chrome wheels, previously an extra-cost option, are now available at no charge, as are last-year's extra-cost wood trims.
Just 500 Autobiography Ultimate Editions ($170,000) will be built to order, featuring a four-bucket-seat interior with a full-length center console that incorporates a machined aluminum laptop table and drink chiller. Two Apple iPads are linked to the rear-seat entertainment system. Oxford leather covers the door casings, dashboard, and steering wheel, and the wood inlays in the dash and doors are genuine Kalahari. Even the luggage floor is special, paneled in yacht-like teak with metal and leather detailing.
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.
After a moderate facelift for 2010 and new grille textures for 2011, appearance changes for 2012 are minor. Door handles and side grilles are now body-color, while all lamp clusters acquire gloss black backplates for sharper contrast.
The Range Rover design remains distinctive among SUVs, boxy and sleek at the same time, very classy.
It has the shortest possible front and rear overhangs to maintain its awesome off-road clearances. Modest fender flares are integrated into the steel fenders rather than tacked on.
Autobiography Ultimate Edition is distinguished by a unique, deeper front fascia that more sharply defines the lower air opening, wrapping body color around it rather than just over its top, as on the standard models. Matching upper and lower grilles go for the hot-rod Bentley look with a plain mesh that resembles, frankly, a chain-link fence in its texture, but with a brighter finish of course. The foglight nacelles are more prominent and bright-finished as well.
The trademark fender vents are accented with brightwork. Politely short sill extensions visually connect the front and rear wheels, suggesting a running board more than anything racy. Like the deeper front fascia, they are not unattractive so much as out of place on an ultimate off-roader.
Half a dozen different wheel styles are available, but the most striking features nine pairs of alternating thick and thin spokes (for 18 spokes in all), set tangentially to the hub. They look like they're spinning even when they're standing still. We prefer the more traditional styles.
The teak-plank cargo floor looks quite convincingly like the deck of an antique yacht or speedboat. The planking continues on the inside of the fold-down tailgate, so opening the tailgate enhances, rather than spoils, the effect.
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 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 710-watt, 14-speaker harman/kardon system that comes standard produces chamber-like sound. A 1200-watt, 19-speaker system is optional. The available rear seat entertainment system includes a 6 DVD changer, separate screens in the front seatbacks, and headphones.
The elaborate full-length console in the Autobiography Ultimate Edition incorporates, among other things, a small writing (or laptop) desk and a cooler with a slide-open top. Inside are holders for a couple of glasses (sized just right for cupholders that look as bright and solid as machined billet) and a bottle of your favorite back-seat beverage. It's really a striking bit of functional sculpture that looks, above all, convincingly expensive.
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 Range Rover models use the same 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 engines are specially prepared to handle extreme tilts, water fording and extreme weather conditions.
The Range Rover HSE uses a normally aspirated 385 horsepower version with 380 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. The acceleration leaps from 0 to 60 in 5.9 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.
The 2012 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 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 Range Rover in Colorado; with Jim McCraw reporting from Eastnor Castle, England.
Range Rover HSE ($80,275); Supercharged ($95,670); Autobiography ($126,665); Autobiography Ultimate Edition ($170,000).
Options As Tested
Land Rover Range Rover HSE ($80,275).
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