Ford recently acquired Land Rover from BMW, so this British luxury SUV brand now is part of Fords Premier Automotive Group, which includes Lincoln, Jaguar, Volvo and Aston Martin.
Land Rover sells two SUV models in the United States: the Land Rover Discovery and the larger, more expensive Range Rover.
The big news for the Range Rover is that it now comes with a single engine, a 4.6-liter V-8. Last year, this engine came only in the 4.6 HSE model, and the base 4.0 SE used a 4.0-liter V-8. With both models using the same engine, they are now designated SE and HSE.
A satellite-based navigation system that is standard on the HSE and optional on the SE not only plots courses on paved roads but also off-road, dropping what Land Rover calls digital bread crumbs that allow drivers to retrace their route.
Range Rover has body-on-frame design, a ladder-type steel frame and body panels made of weight-saving aluminum alloy or zinc-coated steel. The rear window swings up, the tailgate drops down, and the spare tire stores inside the vehicle, under the cargo floor in the four-door SUV. SE models come with 16-inch tires, and HSE models ride on 18-inchers.
Aromatic leather upholstery and attractive wood trim greet occupants in the roomy interior, which holds five people. Front-seat occupants are protected by front and side-impact airbags. The standard sound system on the SE is a 300-watt Alpine unit with 12 speakers and a six-CD changer, and the HSE has a 460-watt, six-speaker system.
Under the Hood
Both models come with a 222-horsepower 4.6-liter V-8 engine, a four-speed automatic transmission and permanently engaged four-wheel drive that splits power among the wheels as needed for traction. The 4WD system also has a low range for crawling up and down mountains and four-wheel traction control.
A standard air suspension automatically lowers the vehicle for easier entry and exit and adjusts ride height to suit vehicle speed and driving conditions.
Range Rover created the luxury SUV market in the United States in 1987, offering a blend of opulence and offroad capability that caught the fancy of well-heeled buyers. Rovers success in the United States with luxury 4x4s encouraged several imitators, and the list continues to grow.
Range Rovers offroad capabilities are exceeded only by AM Generals Hummer, but most buyers in the luxury end of the SUV market arent interested in bouncing over rocks in the wilderness. The arrival of several competitors has pushed the Range Rover out of the limelight, but it remains a rare breed that is equally at home at the Rubicon Trail or at the Ritz.