It goes without saying, “you can take a lion out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the lion.” This was my initial judgment when Land Rover elected to showcase the technological and adventurous capabilities of their all-new 2013 Range Rover – which voraciously manhandled the mountainous terrain of Utah’s most innermost environs – to a group of world travelers and automotive nomads. Yes, it’s still as opulent as a penthouse on 5th Avenue, yet none of the stately British SUV’s grizzly characteristics have been lost to the redesign. It simply performs honorably within both extremes of today’s conveyance modes–pleasurable and authoritative!
“Short on demand” is an understatement when referring to popularity of this salient utility vehicle. Calls and e-mails from entertainers, pro athletes, artistic curators and businessmen and women all marveling at the recently unveiled icon kept Land Rover quite busy as the company positively diffused the social chaos. Even Range Rover owners I personally know questioned the possibility of upgrading their now outdated SUVs. A poetic “get in line,” was my only piece of advice at the time. I wish I had better news.
Of course the silhouette of the 2013 model is noticeably recognizable as the latest Range Rover, yet leads Land Rover into a modern world where sophisticated pleasantries meet digital footprints. Characteristic heritage lines pay homage to the original Rovers while the rest of the body has evolved majestically. “Designing the next generation Range Rover, following over forty years of success, came with a huge responsibility to protect the DNA of such an icon,” said Gerry McGovern, Land Rover Design Director and Chief Creative Officer. “Our design team worked incredibly hard to capture the elegant proportions and pure surfaces which have been a feature of the best Range Rover designs.” A choice of eight unique wheels come in sizes varying from 19s to 22s while Brembo 6-piston calipers bring the 4,850 to 5,137 pound vehicle to a halt. As well, you may opt for two unique contrast roof colors, 37 exterior hues, and 17 interior colors to set your vehicle apart from the masses.
Moreover, its all-aluminum unibody is 39% lighter than the previous steel body it replaces. This increases fuel economy and adds more performance and agility to a vehicle historically known for conquering bedrock in lavish fashion. A bit soft in the front, designers focused on streamlined, wind-slicing factors to maintain the Rover’s newfound performance capabilities. In fact, it’s 10% more aerodynamic than the prior model since most of the Land Rover’s angular lines have been rounded off. Sustainably, 85% of the Range Rover’s parts are recyclable, 50% of the aluminum is from recycled componentry, and the carbon trail from its leather production has been reduced by 46%. Who says luxury can’t be green?
Interesting enough, I recently spent some time behind the wheel of an original 1972 Range Rover, which was intentionally built for the U.S. market. It featured a 130-horsepower 3.5-liter V8, 4-speed manual gearbox and the world’s first permanent 4WD. Yet, it didn’t make it to North America until 1987 due to strict regulations. But the symbiotic relationship between that vehicle and the 2013 model remains intact as both honor traditional Land Rover DNA.
To experience the Green Oval’s latest franchise player, Automotive Rhythms was invited to Utah where the altitude is high and mountainous terrain predominant. In true Land Rover fashion, we headed out in a constellation as various model ranges within the Range family trailed one another. It was a beautiful scene to say the least. My drive partner and I selected a Havana colored Range Rover Supercharged Autobiography ($130,995) with 510-horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque emanating from its 5.0-liter aluminum V8. The combination of weight savings (up to 926 pounds), a new 8-speed ZF automatic transmission and a new suspension allows the vehicle to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. On open roads the Range felt quicker than any Rover I have previously driven, especially with paddle shifters which allow you to control the rpm of the imperial SUV. In comparison, the naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V8 found in the standard $83,545 Range Rover and $88,545 Range Rover HSE outputs 375-horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque and reaches 60 mph from a standstill in 6.5 seconds. Keep in mind a Range Rover Supercharged without the $31,000 Autobiography package starts at $99,995. Once you experience the signature amenities it is tough going backwards. The Autobiography appends specific technologies such as:
- Full Semi-Aniline Leather Seats
- Rear Seat Entertainment Package ($2,400 stand alone option)
- 18-way front seats with massage
- Reclining rear power seat
- 19-speaker and 825 watt Meridian Surround Sound System ($1,850 stand alone option)
- 21” Alloy wheels
- Blind Spot Monitoring with Closing Vehicle Sensing and Reverse Traffic Detection
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- Soft Door Close
- Park Assist
- Much, much more
Inside, the Range Rover cabin is absolutely gorgeous. Its veneers are from sustainable forests, the headrests are extremely soft and comfortable, a cooler is stored under the armrest, a sliding panoramic roof attracts light, and the vertical center stack is punctuated with far more digital inputs than the prior robotic layout. There is the 12.3” TFTS displaying the odometer, vehicle operations, etc. virtually and an 8” touchscreen that handles navigation, vehicle settings, and audio which comes in the form of three different Meridian systems, one of which is the 29-speaker, 1,700 Watt Signature Reference. Imagine playing Kid Rock to that! Though, we did find the views on the rear view camera to be murky. All controls are embedded flush for the most part and offer intuitive commands and feedback. Begin your travels in the back seat and you will wish you had hired a driver, especially with a 4.7” legroom surplus. The executive packaging (free option on the Autobiography) included the dual captain chairs with a center console that controls the Range Rover’s technological attributes.
After our drive to lunch we switched vehicles and begin a short expedition to display the Range Rover’s forte and new skillsets. The antithesis of any luxury automobile, off-roading is typically reserved for the rugged type like Jeeps. However, Land Rover’s unwavering confidence in this field is accentuated by the vehicle’s mechanical aptitude. Introducing the next generation Terrain Response 2 which uses a gear-like controller to choose between 5 modes to help the Range Rover manipulate the grounds it is on: General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand, and Rock Crawl. Through rivers and over rocks is a typical and simplistic challenge for the vehicle’s fortitude as we experienced in the wilderness. It was another day at the office I gathered while creeping through the slippery trail. Land Rover consigned 40 software engineers to develop the superlative algorithms of the system. In most cases General mode is suitable since it will automatically adjust to varying surfaces whether it is rain or sand. Add in Permanent 4-Wheel Drive, Hill Decent Control, Hill Start Assist and a new aluminum air suspension and the Range Rover is just as suitable for military duty as it is for executive obligation.
With epic devotion to innovation and to the heritage, purveyors of the British SUV now have more reasons than one for justifying their infectious love affair with Land Rover and the all-new Range Rover. Well, that’s if they feel entitled to an explanation at all.