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Car Tech Spotlight: 2013 Range Rover power split tailgate

The signature split tailgate on the British-built luxury SUV can now close at the touch of a button.

By Douglas Newcomb Feb 8, 2013 6:53AM

Talk about First World problems. While test driving a supercharged 2012 Range Rover awhile back, my wife went to put something in the rear cargo area and asked, “Hey, why doesn’t this vehicle have the button on the tailgate like the last one we had?”

Not sure what she was referring to, I walked around to find my vertically challenged other half stretching to reach the liftgate on the big SUV -- and struggling to bring the heavy slab of metal and glass down with a tenuous grasp.

Being the gentleman I am, I rushed to help her. And being the wise guy that I am, I quickly and facetiously responded, “Well, that's the difference between a $40,000 SUV and an $80,000 SUV.” The former referred to a Jeep Grand Cherokee that had an electronic liftgate feature that was absent on the much more expensive Range Rover.

Not any longer. One of the refinements on the new 2013 Range Rover is the power split tailgate feature. unlike the feature on other vehicles, Land Rover does it a bit differently.

As in other vehicles, the Range Rover’s new power split tailgate feature is operated via a button on the tailgate, a remote-control key fob or near the driver’s seat. But what’s unique on the vehicle is that the Range Rover’s signature two-piece boot folds up like a clamshell.

It’s always interesting to get my wife’s perspective on the vehicles I test -- what she does and doesn’t like -- and it’s usually from a viewpoint I’d never consider, as with the unpowered liftgate on the earlier Range Rover. This may seem simple -- and a glaring omission on a luxury SUV -- but this kind of tech makes life in a Range Rover just a little easier, even if you’re tall and fortunate enough to be driving such a pricey car.

Feb 11, 2013 9:16AM
As in most things in life, one person's detraction is another's attraction. Having a lower portion of the liftgate provides a perfect seat which allows an active person to sit comfortably while putting on hiking boots, snowboard boots or other such items without having to drag them into the front of the car. The Mitsubishi Outlander has this feature in manual form and it is wonderful.
Feb 8, 2013 8:23AM

Doug,.,..... correction please!

You reference "clamshell bonnet" .... in proper English, the bonnet is the "hood" and not the item to which refer .....that would be correctly a clamshell boot lid or tailgate.

Feb 11, 2013 4:18PM
The Honda Element had a non-powered split tailgait. I owned one for a while and it was actually one of my favorite things about the vehicle...along with split side doors. I'm not so sure if the Land Rover's powered gate would be any better than the manual gate on the Element.  Sure. It requires less effort on the part of the owner but, at the expense of well.....expense.  Nice feature nonetheless that I'd like to see on more SUV's.  Tailgaiting with a roof over your head....  
Feb 8, 2013 11:26AM
Seems that Land Rover is finally realizing how ugly their earlier models were and giving people what they want....a nicer looking product. Now if they could do something about the poor engineering and quality. I have an LR3 in my fleet, what an uncomfortable and unreliable POS.
Feb 8, 2013 2:37PM

I personally find the full rear liftgate with seperate opening rear glass to be a much better configuration that the split rear liftgate.  I'm disappointed that many new SUVs are getting rid of the seperate opening rear glass and going with just a full opening rear liftgate.


The lower tailgate portion on the RR makes it only that much more difficult to reach things when it is down.  I think it's poor design.

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