2013 Land Rover Range Rover: First drive review
Part billy goat, part limo, the Range Rover is the ultimate luxury off-roader.
Redesigned for 2013, the new Land Rover Range Rover sheds 700 pounds, thanks in large part to an all-aluminum body construction. The design is all new, but the lines are traditional Range Rover, including the floating roof, strong shoulders and kick-up behind the rear wheels.
For most of us, the Land Rover Range Rover is a sign of excess. Who, after all, needs to spend $80,000 or even $100,000 on a luxury SUV? But the Range Rover is more than just a status symbol. It offers the luxury of a limousine, the cachet of the finest European sedans, the off-road capability of a billy goat, and a world of adventure. We had one of those adventures when Land Rover invited us to test the 2013 Range Rover in Grand Canyon country, where we found that the Range Rover is the ultimate luxury off-roader.
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The new Land Rover Range Rover is offered in four trims. The $82,650 base trim comes loaded with all kinds of equipment, including leather upholstery, heated front seats, power split tailgate, 3-zone automatic climate control, heated power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, navigation system, satellite and HD radio, and P235/65R19 tires on alloy wheels. The HSE trim adds $5,000 to the price and adds 12-way power-adjustable front seats, perforated Oxford leather upholstery, heated rear seats, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, front fog lights and a panoramic sunroof.
The $99,100 Supercharged trim adds Dynamic Response active sway bars and P275/45R21 tires. The top-line Autobiography trim sells for $130,100 and adds features such as 4-zone automatic climate control, active parking, surround-view cameras, adaptive cruise control, heated and cooled massaging front seats, heated and cooled rear seats with power recline, leather headliner, dual-screen rear DVD entertainment, tow-hitch receiver, blind spot alert and cross-traffic alert. Options over and above the Autobiography equipment include a locking rear differential, 22-inch wheels, a 29-speaker Meridian sound system, and an Executive Class Rear Seating package with a cooled center console, heated and cooled massaging seats, and rear controls that move the front passenger seat up to improve rear seat legroom. Whew.
Notable safety equipment includes a driver's front knee airbag, trailer stability assist, cornering brake control, roll stability control, rearview camera, hill-start assist, hill-descent control, gradient-release control, and front and rear park assist.
Under the hood
The 2013 Land Rover Range Rover comes with a choice of two carryover engines, both 5.0-liter V8s. The version in the base trim makes 375 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque, while the Supercharged and Autobiography trims get a supercharged version that cranks out 510 horses and 461 lb-ft of torque. Both are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability through a pair of steering-wheel paddles. Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy estimates are 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway for the base engine and 13 mpg city/19 mpg highway for the supercharged version.
The Range Rover comes standard with a full-time 4-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing. The system constantly changes the front-rear torque split depending on traction. It also has the second generation of Land Rover's Terrain Response system that interacts with the engine, transmission, center differential, brakes and stability control systems to help the vehicle through various types of terrain. The system comes with modes for Grass-Gravel-Snow, Mud and Ruts, Sand, Rock Crawl, and a new Automatic setting that switches to the appropriate program based on terrain conditions.
Aside from the Range Rover's elegantly brutish good looks, its luxury is most evident in its interior. Leather upholstery is standard and offered in three levels of quality, each more supple than the last. Leather covers not only the seats, but also the dashboard, door panels and, when ordered, the headliner. It is offset by aluminum and three choices of reclaimed wood trim.
It has been the goal of luxury automakers for years to reduce the number of buttons in their vehicles, allowing for a cleaner design. Land Rover has accomplished that with the new Range Rover. An 8-inch center touch screen handles the entertainment, communications and navigation functions, and it is far improved from past efforts from Land Rover. The controls are intuitive, easy to find and reach, and the system reacts quickly most of the time. We found it to be a bit slow to accept inputs when programming a navigation destination, but overall it works well.
Land Rover also replaces traditional gauges with a 12.3-inch high-definition screen that projects digital gauges. It features a speedometer and tachometer that flank a large information center usually dedicated to trip computer information. The information center also shows navigation directions when the vehicle approaches a turn and off-road information when low-range gearing is selected. The off-road readouts can also be displayed on the center screen, and they include graphics to show the steering wheel angle, suspension articulation, axle angles and center differential lock in one of three percentages. These graphics are very helpful when steering direction and wheel placement may make the difference between conquering an obstacle or possibly rolling over. We have two minor complaints with these screens. They both can wash out in direct sunlight, and the digital instruments lack the watchlike beauty of other high-end gauges.