Notably restyled for 2013, the Range Rover has softer edges with a more swept back design. While the change in style can be a bit much at first, hallmark qualities like the grille and headlights (though with a new LED style) remain. The gills on the front fender remain as do thoughtful touches like the “hidden” rear wiper. While this generation is all new, it doesn’t take long before the new look is as familiar as the old. With as timeless a design as Range Rover that really doesn’t matter. What hasn’t gotten old is the competition with model from everyday manufacturer new or on the horizon.
Inside the updates are all about making the cabin clean and simple. In fact, there are now 50 percent fewer buttons and switches, thanks in part to a new 8-inch display screen with touch controls on the side that look like something off a smart phone. The rest of interior is an oasis of luxury, and while wood veneers are available for traditionalists, a piano black trim adds to the modern touch, which is completed by a fully digital gauge display measuring 12.3-inches. Definitely cool, it can even showcase a special off-road display screen. As a popular machine for families or chauffeuring around celebrities, rear seat room was made a priority on the new luxe-barge. With the standard wheelbase, rear seat legroom is up 4.7-inches with an extra 2-inches of knee room compared to it’s predecessor and a new long wheelbase version is available. The door opening is now also larger, and to enable easy entry, a special Access mode will lower the SUV a total of two inches from its standard ride height.
It’s now more nimble, more efficient and faster. Power continues to come from a choice of two supercharged engine options with the entry-level 3.0-liter V6 making 340 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a new 8-speed transmission fuel economy is now 17/23 mpg, while the 0-60 time drops seven tenths of a second to 7.0 seconds. As for the powerful V8 models, which is what we tested, they deliver 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy suffers slightly to 13/19 mpg, but 60 mph comes nearly two seconds faster at just 5.1 seconds. Deceptively fast, the Range Rover offers speed in spades.
Driving the new Range Rover on-road is perhaps where the generations updates are most obvious. Yes it has new bodywork, but it’s also all-new underneath. The first SUV with a fully-aluminum structure, by switching to the lighter metal over steel, models have shed a dramatic 700 lbs. The drive itself is quiet, with wind noise well suppressed except at extra illegal speeds. It’s also smooth thanks to a new air suspension system, while an optional Adaptive Dynamics feature uses hydraulically actuated detachable sway bars to reduce body roll during cornering. Fully engaged on the road, the sway bars separate when you want to hit the trails for added wheel movement; though that is just the start of an incredible list of off-road features.
With 12-inches of ground clearance, not to mention improved approach and departure angles, hit the little “up” button on the center console and the air suspension will lift an extra three-inches. Press it again for 1.4-inches more, and in case the truck thinks it’s high-sided, it will automatically add another 1.4-inches. If it looked somewhat sleek before, when fully extended this luxury ute strikes an imposing pose. Jacked-up, it’s time to engage the low-range gearing by popping the transmission dial into neutral and pressing the little mountain button. Drop it back into drive and it’s now time to make a decision, or… to leave the stressful stuff to the Land Rover engineers. That’s because of an optional Terrain Response 2 feature. From the company that pioneered the off-road dial with custom settings to tackle everything from driving in snow to sand to rock-crawling, this latest version now includes an “auto” setting, which takes the guesswork out of the experience, meaning anyone can tackle the mother nature with confidence.
My journalistic duty and general inquisitiveness led me to manually dial through each setting and I could easily distinguish the features of each, from added torque and limited traction control in the Sand setting, to higher revs in Snow and an incredibly jerky Rock Crawling mode designed for slow going and a very light touch. All but the Sand mode will automatically engage hill descent control (slowing the big SUV without using the brakes). As though all this wasn’t enough, in 2013 a new air intake system was added that can pull oxygen from near the hood, improving wading depth by eight-inches, meaning it can drive through three feet of water. Plus, a two speed off-road setting will allow higher speeds with an intermediate mode that offers 1.6-inches of extra clearance at speeds of up to 50 mph. Ideal for covering uneven ground at greater speed, it’s also a failsafe feature, ensuring that wheelspin moments don’t trigger the truck’s computer into thinking you’re on the highway, lowering the suspension and potentially grounding the SUV. In all cases, we’re amazed at the grip, especially considering the rubber under-foot is the high-performance summer stuff, better suited to LA freeways than the unused Bureau of Land Management trails.
Customization is something Land Rover prides itself on and something its customers demand. There are a total of 37 exterior colors, 17 interior “themes” and eight different wheel sizes from 19 to 22-inches. Those looking for options will find them in bulk, including a massive panoramic glass roof and a 29-speaker , 1700-watt audio system. Those particularly interested in the rear-seat experience can opt for an Individual seating option with two chairs that offer not just heating and cooling functions, but power recline and massage. Heck, even the headrests fold in on the sides to keep you in place in case their soft-as-a-pillow padding puts you to sleep. The safety conscious will appreciate blind spot monitoring, a reverse traffic detection system that can tell if a car is coming from the side. There’s also adaptive cruise control that works in stop-and-go traffic and even an Intelligent Emergency Braking function that can apply the brakes automatically if a collision is deemed imminent, helping scrub off speed and lessen the accident.
The Range Rover is almost too good, taking much of the adventure out of a what in almost any other vehicle would be impossible and impassible. Driving through the city, desert and mountains becomes a serene experience. The price of entry doesn’t come cheap however; the base 3.0L V6 starts at $84,950, while our V8 test vehicle starts at $103,195 and those are with a standard wheelbases. All in a long wheelbase Autobiography can climb as high as $200K. With competitors like Bentley and Mercedes-Maybach trying to invade the Lang Rovers throne, the price looks much more reasonable. Like all past generations of the Range Rover, the fourth generation model combines ultimate capability with exceptional refinement while being as iconic and irreplaceable as ever.