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Expert Reviews 1 of 3
By Jim Flammang
September 26, 2003
Vehicle Overview For only the third time in 32 years, Land Rover redesigned its posh Range Rover for 2003. Longer, taller and narrower than its predecessor, the 2003 model had an all-new, stiffer monocoque body with an integrated chassis. Curb weight grew to 5,379 pounds. The manufacturer claims that the Range Rover can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 9 seconds. Independent front and rear suspensions employ interconnected air springs.
For 2004, the company is launching the first limited edition. Only 450 examples of the Westminster Edition will be built; they will be finished in pearlescent paint and will ride 20-inch bright alloy wheels.
Improved approach and departure angles make the current model even more capable off-road than its illustrious predecessor. Like the automakers smaller Freelander and Discovery, the Range Rover is manufactured in England.
The manufacturer says that many traditional, iconic design features are evident on the 2004 model. Such characteristics include a clamshell hood with castellations, a horizontally split tailgate, a floating roof and a simple grille. An almost rectangular interplay exists between horizontal and vertical body lines. Distinctive power vents at the front-fender edges are intended to help increase the volume of air fed to the engine. Bi-xenon headlights are standard.
The Range Rover seats five people and comes with several choices of interior styles that emphasize luxury woods and leathers. The interiors may be trimmed in cherry wood or burr walnut. The 60/40-split, folding rear seats jackknife forward to increase cargo space. Luggage loops in the cargo area securely fasten loads.
The GPS navigation system includes offroad functionality with a birds eye view. A 570-watt Harman Kardon LOGIC 7 surround-sound system is standard. A heating function for all seats and the steering wheel is optional.
Under the Hood
Adapted to meet unique Range Rover requirements, the 4.4-liter 32-valve V-8 engine produces 282 horsepower and 325 pounds-feet of torque. Range Rovers must be capable of wading through water and coping with steep offroad angles. To aid in these efforts, a ZF five-speed-automatic transmission with CommandShift operation permits manual shifting, and permanent four-wheel drive includes a Torsen torque-sensing center differential. The two-speed transfer case can be shifted from Low to High while on the move.
Eight airbags are installed: steering-wheel and dash-mounted airbags, two side-impact airbags for the driver and front passenger, and four side curtain-type airbags for all passengers. Land Rover claims that the Range Rovers crash-test protection is comparable to that of a luxury sedan. The front seat belts have pretensioners, and ISOFIX points ensure that child-safety seats may be securely fitted.
Magnificent is a suitable word to describe this costly, but classy, top-of-the-line SUV. The Range Rover represents civilized motoring in a supremely capable vehicle that is equipped with a refined drivetrain. It produces plenty of performance and a truly solid feel.
The Range Rovers handling and steering are utterly confident. Firm but inviting upholstery provides a pleasant driving environment. The Range Rover is quiet, but it doesnt try to hide engine sounds. This is one of the few SUVs on the road that might make even a non-fan want to keep driving. Exhibiting totally proper behavior throughout, its filled with all of the comfort and convenience features anyone could desire. On the down side, the controls tend to be overwhelming and not all of them are easy to decipher.