For only the third time in 32 years, Land Rover redesigned its posh Range Rover sport utility vehicle for 2003. The British-built SUV is longer, taller and narrower than its predecessor, and it's got an all-new, stiffer monocoque body with an integrated chassis.
For 2005, the Range Rover gains automatic headlights, a touchscreen interface and a fiber-optic system for multimedia components. The Harman Kardon LOGIC 7 surround-sound audio system has been upgraded to 710 watts, while the phone integration system incorporates Bluetooth capability. Improved approach and departure angles make the current model even more capable off-road than its illustrious predecessor. An updated Range Rover with an available supercharged engine debuts for 2006.
Land Rover notes that many traditional design features are evident, including a clamshell hood with castellations and a horizontally split tailgate. Distinctive power vents are installed behind the front fenders.
Bi-xenon headlights and a sunroof are standard. Independent front and rear suspensions employ interconnected air springs. Front and rear Park Distance Control is included.
Range Rovers seat up to five occupants. Interiors may be trimmed in luxurious leathers with cherry wood or burl walnut. The 60/40-split folding rear seats jackknife forward to increase cargo space. A foldable, removable cargo cover is included.
The navigation system includes on-road and offroad functionality with a "bird's eye" view. A six-CD changer sits in the rather skimpy glove box. Three-zone automatic air conditioning is standard, and a heating function for all seats and the steering wheel is optional.
Under the Hood
The 4.4-liter V-8 produces 282 horsepower and 325 pounds-feet of torque. The ZF five-speed-automatic transmission permits manual gear selection, 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. Range Rovers can tow up to 7,700 pounds.
Antilock brakes, Dynamic Stability Control, side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain-type airbags for all outboard occupants are standard.
Magnificent best describes this costly but classy SUV. The Range Rover has a refined drivetrain that produces plenty of performance. It handles and steers with utter confidence. The ride isn't as rough as some rivals, though it can get jumpy on imperfect pavement.
A high step-in makes it difficult to enter. Firm yet inviting upholstery provides a pleasant environment. The Range Rover is quiet, but it doesn't try to hide engine sounds. This is one of the few SUVs that might make detractors want to keep driving.
The controls and gauges are overwhelming and some are difficult to decipher. Parking assist helps because the Range Rover's perimeter isn't easy to judge. Squeaks and rattles were noticed on an example with 3,300 miles.