Britain’s Land Rover brand has always been an off-road innovator. Faced with a shortage of steel, the original 1948 Land Rover had body panels made of lighter weight aluminum. Then in 1970, the brand invented an SUV fit for the queen with the Range Rover. Now, with demands for better fuel economy coming from both governments and owners, Land Rover has fused these two traditions into an all-new range rover. It’s one posh utility that’s blazing the trail for the rest of its kind.
It doesn’t look much different than before, but the 2013 Land Rover Range Rover is very revolutionary. Yes, it’s slightly bigger and maybe a tad sleeker than before, but that slant-back, boxy shape remains intact. One change; the split tailgate is now powered.
The big news lies deep within where thanks to a weight saving aluminum unibody, the new Ranger Rover is the first all-aluminum SUV ever.
The structure lops off an impressive 700 pounds off total vehicle weight, which translates directly into better fuel economy. Along with a new 8-speed automatic transmission, the Combined fuel economy rating jumps nearly 15%. A huge move for normally gas-guzzling ultra-luxury SUVs and one that will not be lost on rivals.
Speaking of luxury, inside all is well but also improved. The serious interior ups the ante in material quality. There’s fine leather and real wood aplenty. And speaking of up, rear seat leg room is way up, with over 4½ inches added for your golfing buddies. The conflagration of interior switches has been cut in half. It’s cleaner and much more intuitive. Though we’re not sure adding Jaguar’s rotary shift knob was such a great idea.
There’s a host of new driver-assist technologies, including Adaptive Cruise Control, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Reverse Traffic Detection. If only it would just park itself. Well, actually it’ll do that too. Off roading potential continues to be more than the vast majority of owners can appreciate. We sampled the latest Rover in the Utah desert, and beating this luxo-ute up in these conditions seemed a bit of a sacrilege, but incredibly fun nonetheless.
Land Rover has made it even easier for owners to test the Range Rover’s dirt loving capabilities with an updated Terrain Response System. You just dial in an appropriate setting for your current conditions, and as much as 5.7-inches of additional ground clearance.
Under the hood is the familiar 5.0-liter V8 in both Regular and Supercharged form. Sadly no diesels will be available here. But we have no real complaints, as this direct-injected V sounds great whether putting out 375-horsepower in base form or 510 with the supercharger.
For our track work, we chose a Supercharged Rover, and it wasted no time blasting us to 60 miles-per-hour, in just 4.9-seconds. It raises its nose, and climbs swiftly through the ¼-mile in 13.3-seconds and 109 miles-per-hour, feeling even faster. That’s somewhat surprising since even with the weight loss this SUV still tips the scales at over 5000 pounds. Despite that, through our handling tests the new Range Rover felt as stiff and responsive as some so-called sport sedans. Yes, it’s still tall and a bit top heavy, but body roll is manageable and steering is telepathic and quick.
For the record, Government Fuel Economy Ratings rise to 14-City, 20-Highway, and 16-Combined. With the supercharger, you’ll do just one worse at 13, 19, and 15. Still thirsty by car standards but quite good for its luxo-class.
And it is a pricey one. But, given Range Rover’s total commitment to luxury with true all-terrain prowess, a base of $83,500 isn’t out of place, and it’s still way less than a Mercedes G Class.
Indeed, the 2013 Land Rover Range Rover; is equally at home on both back country trails and Rodeo Drive. There’s no denying it is one impressive piece of automotive engineering. And, by combining the best of its history and today’s technology, is pointing all sport-utes towards a viable future.
Engine: 5.0-liter V8
Horsepower: 375 or 510 with supercharger
0-60 mph: 4.9 seconds
1/4 mile: 13.3 seconds @ 109 mph
EPA: 14 mpg city/ 20 mpg highway