Let’s get this out of the way: The new Land Rover Range Rover is not a vehicle for people like you and me. It’s for our boss’ boss’ boss, if they’re lucky.
Money and status are something that permeate throughout the new Range Rover. It was inescapable in my hundreds of miles of driving and being driven in no fewer than four different Range Rovers.
Throughout my drives, I couldn’t help but notice something nice and then say to myself, “Yeah, well it should be nice. It’s 100-and-something thousand dollars.” They did it. They created an excellent truck, but of course they did — and should have. It starts at over 100 grand and can be spec’d well beyond that.
With that, let’s get on to the new Range Rover.
(Full Disclosure: Land Rover flew me out to northern California, put me in two very *very* nice hotels and gave me a few different Range Rovers to drive around in for three days.)
There’s a whole bunch of new stuff in the new Range Rover. It doesn’t look drastically different from its predecessor, and that’s the first time that’s happened during a generation change for the modern Range Rover. But under the skin it’s all new.
The truck now rides on the new MLA-Flex platform. That doesn’t really matter to the average consumer, but what does matter is the fact there are two different lengths and three different seating configurations. There’s the 199-inch short wheel base (SWB) and 207-inch long wheel base (LWB). The long wheelbase also means something totally new for the Big Daddy Range Rover: seven seats to carry your rich children and their rich friends to your rich people’s activities.
The driver’s compartment is also all new. Gone are the dual screens, replaced with one large 13.1-inch screen that is sort of not laggy. The gauge cluster is still a screen, the same as its been since the L322 mid-cycle refresh 10 years ago. It’s also sort of not laggy. The HVAC control screen of the old RR has been replaced with haptic buttons, which are better, I guess. It’s all very simple-looking to the casual observer, and you have to imagine that’s on purpose. Land Rover knows their customer, and I suppose they figured out the people who want to buy the Range Rover don’t want a ton of screens. I don’t blame them.
Stylistically, the biggest change to the Range Rover comes around back. Gone are the Altezza-style tail lights that have adorned the rear end of the Range Rover for the last 20-ish years. In its place are two blacked out stripes. They’re kinda cool if you ask me. They remind me of a mid-90’s Cadillac DeVille tail lights… in a good way. At first they seem a little too small, but once you realize they’re going for sort of a boat look at the rear, it makes sense. Everything tapers around. It’s smooth as hell. Satisfying.
That smoothness continues with the flush-mounted door handles. They really just make the new Range Rover look like it was carved from one block of any expensive material. You have to assume that was Land Rover’s intention.
Big changes also come under the hood of the new Range Rover. Right now there are two ICE engine choices – a 3-liter I6 with a turbocharger, supercharger and 48-volt mild-hybrid system, and a 4.4-liter BMW turbo V8.
The I6 makes just about 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. If that doesn’t prove beefy enough for you, we’ve also got a blast from the past (sort of). Land Rover is saying goodbye to its tried and true 5-liter supercharged V8. In its place is the BMW-sourced 4.4 liter turbo V8. That plant makes 523 horsepower and 553 pounds of torque.With a vehicle that weighs nearly 6,000 pounds, it could be the one to get.
The I6 never felt ponderously slow, but when you’re paying all that money for a car, you do want a little bit of that V8 rumble, don’t you?
[You can hold your Range Rover reliability jokes for now. This is a new car. I (and everyone else on Earth) have no idea how it will hold up mechanically.]
No matter what engine you choose to put in your Range Rover, your transmission and drive wheels remain the same. You get an eight-speed auto that is routed to all four wheels in typical Range Rover fashion. It should be noted that more than a couple of times the transmission slam shifted gears a bit rougher than you’d expect, but otherwise it was totally smooth and non-offensive. If you’re a bit weird like me, you can use the RR’s paddles to control the transmission, and the aluminum stalks do quite a good job of it. They feel and are premium — just like everything else inside.
But again, it ought to be nice. Like I said earlier, I drove/was driven in four different Range Rovers. I was able to drive three of them – a SWB 5-seater “First Edition” with the V8. That one came in at about $172,000. There was also a LWB “SE” with seven seats and the I6 as well as the big daddy SV which was a LWB with just four seats. That costs, according to the Land Rover rep, around $260,000. That’s a lot.
There are a few Range Rovers that I wish I was able to try out, namely the EV and PHEV variants, but they weren’t at this event. Hopefully, down the line I’ll get my chance to compare another vehicle I’ll forever be reaching to affording.
Driving the Range Rover is like nothing else on the road, and I don’t mean that as hyperbole. It’s not so much driving as it is sailing. It’s as if the car encourages you to drive underhand like you’re steering a ship, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. So many SUVs these days try to toe the line into sporty. The Range Rover doesn’t even bother, and it shouldn’t. It’s big, and it’s comfy. It’ll get around turns well enough, but who really cares. You’ve got a Range Rover, which means you also have a Porsche. And that goes around corners just fine.
In a straight line cruising down the highway at large rates of speed is where the Range Rover shines. It just gobbles up miles and spits them out like nothing ever happened.
Something else I noticed — and maybe it’s because I’m a California novice — is people just get out of the way when you’re driving a Range Rover. Seeing one in the rear view mirror is menacing. It means someone who had to do some bad things to get enough money to afford a Range Rover is behind you.
A Range Rover doesn’t come up to your bumper, it doesn’t advance toward your car. It barrels toward you. It’s not letting up, and you best get out of the way.
Inside are all sorts of dead cows and trees. It’s a lovely place to be, and man, oh man, does it smell good. It’s like some sort of old library in a mansion that you’ll never get the chance to enter. The inside of the SV is even more interesting. Ceramic. Ceramic everywhere. I’ve never seen anything like it, and that totally rocks. Everything just feels so nice. You want to poke around and touch the different materials. It’s sort of a sensory overload and calming area all at once. I don’t know how to describe it.
On the more practical side of things, if you need to get your well-dressed and generationally wealthy children to the third row of your Range Rover, you won’t have an issue. The second row can automatically slide forward for your young oil baron to enter. When he or she sits, they will find ample room in the third row. I know I did. And I am not a child. I swear.
In the four seat configuration, the second row is on par with every single luxury limousine you can think of. The passenger-side rear seat can be reclined to your heart’s delight, and on the SV a table and cam-driven cupholder assembly can be popped up electronically for whatever you need them for. Being a limo, it’s got a fridge! It can keep your champagne and fine cheeses as cold as can be. It’ll also work for Lunchables if you’ve got your kid for the day because the nanny is sick.
At this point you’re probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned its off road capabilities. There’s a good reason for that. Not a single human who buys this rig will ever take it down more than a dirt trail, and that’s really a shame. It’s so good at going off road, man. It does it so well, but it really does not matter. There are a myriad of modes and selections to make that’ll get you out of and over just about any terrain. There’s a reason this is paragraph is right next to the lounge seating. That’s where the owner of this car will be spending their time: on the road, in comfort. They will not be bouncing around a rocky hill with it. However, if the help decides to take them there, it will be without issue.
The Range Rover really just has everything you could ever want, let alone need. But, as was said before. This car isn’t for us. It’s for them.
It’s all a bit of a status thing, isn’t it? People buy Range Rovers because of what they feel it says about them. Could you get all of what the RR offers in a Jeep Grand Cherokee? Probably. But that isn’t the point. The Range Rover is its own thing. It’s ascended beyond normal car cross shopping (if you can find a car to shop for).
When the Range Rover was first introduced oh so many years ago, it was pretty much alone in its quest to perfect the luxury off-roader formula. Today, the story is far different. Just about every single premium brand makes a Range Rover fighter – though the company will say they’re in a class of one. There may still be something to that.