Utah ? It?s not often the ?King of Off Road Vehicles? introduces a new, from the ground up, version, so when Land Rover said the 2013 Land Rover Range Rover would be debuting in the Utah desert, I was ready to go.
Significant changes are so numerous it?s hard to know which is most important: the all-aluminum chassis, 700 pounds of weight loss, new eight speed transmission, refined suspension, and the list goes on and on…
Looking at photos, before actually seeing the new model in person, I could see subtle changes to the iconic shape, but in real life the changes became more significant and encompassing, giving testimony to the outstanding design developed by Gerry McGovern, Land Rover Design Director and Chief Creative Officer, and his team.
?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,? McGovern said. ?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.?
I often think a new vehicle design should be revolutionary to make a bold statement, but with something as iconic as the Land Rover Range Rover, ?evolutionary? ha to be the mandate. Even though this design is new and fresh what it best accomplished is a new sparkle and improved aerodynamics. The design changes are most evident from the rear where the fenders taper inward. The grill is canted a bit more, the roof gets a subtle taper and the body surface is a bit cleaner and as a result, the new Range Rover slips through the air at 0.34 cd.
Aluminum is a key element in the new design creating a lightweight more rigid body structure and front and rear chassis architecture, and ultimately dropping about 700 pounds of excess weight through the changes. That?s nearly the equivalent of losing four passengers.
For me, the most significant changes are on the interior, which rivals any of the big name luxury sedans. Posh leathers, rich woods, and satin medals filled the interior of the Autobiography model that my regular driving partner and I drove first. When I say leather, I mean leather — nearly every surface was covered in rich leather including the headliner, dash, door panels. Moreover, when it came to features, we decided that if this vehicle didn?t have it, it probably doesn?t exist.
One complaint I had about the previous generation Range Rover was the touch screen. It was too slow, but that?s no longer the case. Tap a button on the screen and it flashes to the next with supercharged speed. It?s also much more intuitive and comprehensive from the audio to the vehicle controls to the navigation. In fact, they were able to eliminate 50 percent of the control buttons with this screen system, but without creating overly complicated menus.
The most conspicuous change is the drive controls, which now use the large dial that rises from the center console. Borrowed from the Land Rover sibling, Jaguar, the dial system makes drive selections simple. All the Terrain response controls are new and easy to use, too, with a selection dial and a series of easy to understand buttons. For example, ?we?re going to be driving in sand, in low range and down a steep hill? — touch a couple of?pictograph-labeled buttons and the Range Rover is set up to impress.
One of the attributes that most fascinated me however, and there are many, is the quiet and comfort of the new Range Rover. Cruising down the Arizona and Utah highways on our way to off-road hell, the vehicle was as quiet as any luxury vehicle I?ve driven — virtually no road noise, no sound of wind at the windows, just quiet comfort and a smooth controlled ride.
Four models make up the 2013 Land Rover Range Rover family including the Range Rover ? I can?t honestly call it a base model, because it?s too well equipped, the HSE, the Supercharged and the Autobiography.
Like the previous model, the new Range Rover is propelled by a pair of powerful V-8 engines: fast and faster. Both engines have amazing power but with a silky smooth execution. Floor the accelerator and you can feel the flesh on your face pull tighter. Off-road the engines modulate for a different task, but produce a near limitless torque for the toughest climb.
The smaller engine is a 375-hp naturally aspirated 5.0-liter direct injection model. Between engine enhancements, the lighter vehicle weight and the new transmission, this engine produces a 6.5-second 0 to 60 mph time (0.7 seconds quicker than the previous version). The EPA rated it at 14 mpg city, 20 mpg highway or 16 mpg combined.
The two upper level models have a 510-hp supercharged version of the same engine. Zero to 60 mph comes in a mere 5.1-seconds — a 0.8-second improvement. Fuel economy is 13/19/15 mpg. A full throttle pass in the supercharged version from 50 mph will easily run the Range Rover to three digits on the speedometer by the time the pass is finished, and if you have a safe place to let it run, the top speed is limited to 140 mph (or 130 mph without the supercharger). And, at three-digit speeds, it feels as confident as it does at 50 mph.
The new Land Rover Range Rover employs a new electronically controlled eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. It helps produce better fuel economy while making near imperceptible shifts, very quickly ? 200 milliseconds, to be precise. The transmission shifts can be manually controlled by the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
The new aluminum chassis is paired with a completely re-engineered four-wheel air suspension. The suspension creates a limousine-like ride on most surfaces but then adjusts in stiffness and height for the off-road challenges or when fording streams or 100 mph plus driving.
Off road, the Range Rover is a?real rover of ranges. There are few other vehicles capable to overcoming such challenging off-road conditions. During a part of our drive through the mountains in Southern Utah, we drove the Range Rover through deep wet sand, skated confidently over snow and icy rocks, threw mud up the sides of the beautiful paint while wallowing in muddy clay and then went on to climb steep rock outcrops. I wish photos and words could capture the thrill of the off road, but they never do justice to the real experience. Of course, we always wonder, who in their right mind would take a $100,000 vehicle through what we just did, but evidently, many owners do just that, and it?s nice to know that you could, if you wanted to.
On sale now, the Land Rover Range Rover has a $83,545 starting price, including the destination charge. The upscale HSE is $88,545, the Supercharged $99,995 and the opulent Supercharged Autobiography model, $130,995.
My wife,Barbara,and I often refer to our ?lottery car?, The Land Rover Range Rover is one of mine. This new model is exactly what the customers told Land Rover that they wanted, when they said, ?Don?t change it, make it better.?