I recently had the opportunity to take my Range Rover off-roading. Real off-roading, I mean. Not typical Land Rover off-roading, which is what happens when you park your Evoque on the grass at a Sting concert.
This opportunity came up a few weeks ago, when I got an e-mail from a reader named Dylan. It said, and I quote, "Would you like to go off-roading?" I didn't even have to think about this one: of course I would like to go off-roading! It would give me the chance to test my vehicle's capabilities. To document a different perspective of automotive enthusiasm. To see what it's really like, out there in the wild, nothing but man and machine. Also, I had run out of other things to write about.
So we met up early one recent Sunday morning: me in my Range Rover, Dylan in his lifted Jeep Wrangler, and another friend in a 1983 Toyota Land Cruiser that sounded like an Eastern European farm tractor last serviced by an Iron Curtain mechanic who was paid in food. It had all the makings of an excellent day.
And an excellent day it was! You'd know this if you followed me on Twitter, where I posted a photo during our off-roading adventure, after our off-roading adventure, and at some point before our off-roading adventure, when I saw a pickup truck with a "Support Our Second Amendment" bumper sticker that depicted a "liberal" hanging from a gallows. You'd also know this if you watched the video, which is an excellent, high-budget production, in that I spent approximately nine United States dollars on triple-A batteries in order to make it.
But for those of you who are stuck in your place of work, unable to watch the video, unable to really live your lives, allow me to sum it up for you. Here's what happens: approximately 90 seconds into the off-roading adventure, Dylan finds a mud hole and promptly gets his Jeep stuck. He's towed out by the Toyota, which itself stalls out about an hour later. This leaves the Range Rover as the sole survivor, the only car with a flawless off-roading record, until a few minutes later when it's unable to climb over a rock.
As a result, we all retreat back down the mountain, figurative tails between our figurative legs, which is exactly the sort of result you'd expect when three people from the city attempt to go off-roading.
But that's all very clear from the video. What isn't clear is just how the Range Rover handled its off-roading adventure. Here's a car, built to tackle the toughest trails in the world, built to ford streams like an Oregon Trail wagon train, built to traverse inclement road conditions such as rain, sleet, snow, hail, tornado, hurricane, volcanic ash, large quantities of bird poop, etc., and yet most owners never take them further off the pavement than the dirt road leading to the cart path at the local country club. So I've decided to devote a few moments to summing it up for you.
In a word, the Range Rover was brilliant. No, maybe brilliant isn't the right word. Stupendous. Sublime. Exceptional. Whatever word you'd use to explain what happens when you're relaxing in a bright, airy, leather-lined cabin, automatic climate control blasting cool air, listening to Jimmy Eat World in 14-speaker Harmon Kardon surround sound, while your friends sweat profusely in an un-air-conditioned Toyota Land Cruiser manufactured back when America loved Cabbage Patch dolls and thought of the Rubik's Cube as an excellent way to spend an afternoon.
And speaking of Cabbage Patch dolls, our trip also included an unplanned stop to Babyland General Hospital, located in the rural north Georgia town of Cleveland (motto: "More guns than Cleveland, Ohio!"), where we witnessed — this is the truth — the birth of a cabbage patch doll, from a "magic forest" filled with plastic cabbage. This birth was carried out by a cabbage patch "nurse," actually a local Cleveland-area high school student, who, I can only assume, goes home every evening after work and drinks heavily.
But anyway, back to off-roading. Even on street tires, the Range Rover managed to make it surprisingly far into our adventure, traversing deep ruts, large rocks, repeated mud holes, and steep inclines. When we eventually made our way back, the Range Rover's hill descent control system worked perfectly, so that I didn't have to ride the brakes the whole way down the mountain. And the air suspension allowed me to lift up the body a few inches before we set off, ensuring that we'd have no problem driving over annoying obstacles like logs, branches, dirt mounds, and furry, lovable forest wildlife.
In other words: the Range Rover is a highly capable, brilliant off-roading vehicle with a lot of highly capable, brilliant off-roading components, assuming that you have a comprehensive CarMax warranty to keep these components working properly. Since I do, I highly recommend the Range Rover off-roading experience. Because there's nothing like rolling through a steep, rocky mud hole while a ventilated seat keeps your butt cool.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.