Culture / Sporting Life

The New Range Rover Cements Its Status as the King of Luxury SUVs — Why It Still Rules the Road

Standing Apart From the Gimmicky Crowd of Contenders

BY

The Range Rover rules the road — and rightly so. From Mockingbird Lane in Dallas to River Oaks Boulevard in Houston, no SUV echoes the notion of “elegance in motion” quite like the new Land Rover Range Rover. Discreet in driveways yet pronounced on pavement, this newly-redesigned British icon is at home no matter the environment, offering a blend of luxury, refinement and capability unparalleled in a crowded field of more gimmicky stalwarts.

While the smooth lines that glide along its flanks lend themselves to an artists' palette, it's the defining taillights on the Range Rover that leave the best impression: solid black until illuminated, they simply ooze class as they frame the tailgate. (Courtesy Land Rover)
While the smooth lines that glide along its flanks lend themselves to an artists’ palette, it’s the defining taillights on the Range Rover that leave the best impression: solid black until illuminated, they simply ooze class as they frame the tailgate. (Courtesy Land Rover)

With its fresh sheetmetal coupled with distinct proportions and roofline an ideal case study in simplistic design, there’s no mistaking this fifth-generation Range Rover for any other SUV.

In this new generation body, both the standard (SWB) and long-body (LWB) versions have increased their wheelbases by about three inches: from 115 to 118 inches for the former, 123 to 126 in the latter. No matter which length, the overall shape remains a true sight for sore eyes (all the while achieving a remarkably low 0.30 coefficient of drag), complemented by a lineup of handsome 22- and 23-inch wheel offerings and a sure-footed full-time four-wheel-drive system.

Once behind the wheel, the Range Rover's generations of brand equity seamlessly emerge from within its handsome appointments and exceptional Meridien 3D audio system. (Courtesy Land Rover)
Once behind the wheel, the Range Rover’s generations of brand equity seamlessly emerge from within its handsome appointments and exceptional Meridien 3D audio system. (Courtesy Land Rover)

In our V8 LWB tester which, with options, topped out at $153,225 (the bump in engine size along runs some $20,000), that translates to an additional 1.2 inches of rear-seat legroom and an extra six cubic feet of cargo space. After all, space, second only to time, is the ultimate luxury. As a bonus, the LWB now accommodates Range Rover’s first-ever third-row seating offering 34 inches of legroom.

Managing that new balance of weight is a rear suspension comprised of a true five-link setup. Translation: the new and standard rear-wheel steering eliminates a full five feet off the turning radius, allowing the LWB Range Rover to make a U-turn in just 37.9 feet.

This new mechanical groundwork will allow the Range Rover to easily assimilate its current ICE engines into fully-electric beats when the time soon comes. For now, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model offers a significantly enlarged 31.8-kWh battery good for an EPA range rating of 48 miles. Until then, two gasoline engines are on tap: a supercharged and turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six good for 395 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque and a new twin-turbo V8 that cranks out 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque (and can tow up to 8200 pounds).

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Both are paired with a silky eight-speed automatic mated to a chic shifter.

If it warrants repeating, the Range Rover is a marvelous space in which to ride. In Comfort mode, the air-sprung chassis allows the luxe ute to float in a stately manner but immediately firms up when switched to Dynamic — virtually eliminating any sense of body roll.

Its system of air springs, electronic dampers, active anti-roll bars and stereo cameras are second to none.

In Comfort mode, the air-sprung chassis allows the luxe ute to float in a stately manner but immediately firms up when switched to Dynamic -- virtually eliminating any sense of body roll. (Courtesy Land Rover)
In Comfort mode, the air-sprung chassis allows the luxe ute to float in a stately manner but immediately firms up when switched to Dynamic — virtually eliminating any sense of body roll. (Courtesy Land Rover)

Inside, the Range Rover has been critiqued for offering almost too spartan a layout amidst its chamber replete with leather and aluminum. Once behind the wheel, however, its generations of brand equity seamlessly emerge from within its handsome appointments and exceptional Meridien 3D audio system. The learning curve behind mastering its touchscreen is minimal and overall remains very user-friendly.

Kudos to the optics engineer who chose the sound emitted by the haptic touch. Back in the third row, accommodations are generous, complemented by cupholders, USB-C ports, and both A/C vents and heated seats. Finally, a dual-position cargo cover that expands to shield the two rearmost rows is a much-welcomed accessory.

The Range Rover currently offers two gasoline engines and a Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) option. A fully-electric model is forthcoming. All are paired with a silky eight-speed automatic mated to a chic shifter. (Courtesy Land Rover)
The Range Rover currently offers two gasoline engines and a Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) option. A fully-electric model is forthcoming. All are paired with a silky eight-speed automatic mated to a chic shifter. (Courtesy Land Rover)

While the Range Rover’s “base” SE model is no slouch by any means of accommodation or amenity, those looking for more rarified editions will no doubt click the box for one of three Autobiography models available or, for the pinnacle of exclusivity, the long-wheelbase four-place SV, which will run a cool $220,000.

J.R. Ewing would surely have approved.

Prices start for these Range Rovers at $108,000 for the base short wheelbase and $113,000 for the base long wheelbase.

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