Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania ... I find that the Range Rover stirs up notions of adventure travel through Africa's rolling savannahs. Instead of spying lions, elephants and rhinos, however, I am on a quest to keep my little cubs delirious with fun while minimizing their path of destruction.
And fun we have! Thanks to the Range Rover's DVD system, my children are glued to Baby Einstein's "World Animals," a DVD I've appropriately picked out to celebrate the Range Rover and my safari attitude. Best of all, my children use the included wireless headsets, and voila, I still get to listen to my music. Now I adjust the driver's armrest to the perfect height and store my huge can of Arizona green tea in the oversized cupholder next to me. I open the enormous windows and sunroof, allowing the fresh spring breeze to cheer us on, and don't even mind that we are lost in the heart of suburbia, passing one superstore after another. It all looks the same to me, but who cares! I passionately take in the moment while I can.
The Range Rover is loaded with features; here are just a few I become addicted to: The rearview camera, which I use diligently, especially upon finding out that a 3-year-old a few doors over was just hit by a reversing car. When parking the Range Rover, the park-assist feature alerts me with a series of beeps as I get close to a point of impact. Let's face it: I'll take all the help I can, especially when a vehicle's price tag is more than $90,000. As I enter a tight parking garage, I push a button and both the driver- and passenger-side mirrors fold in, allowing for easy entry. The seat heaters are lovely, and even the two backseats include the feature. Can you say luxury? Speaking of seats, the front seats adjust in so many ways my head is spinning. Way too many positions seem equally comfortable, and I am hard-pressed to decide which one to store in memory.
The intricate navigation/voice-recognition system takes me a bit to figure out, but is well worth the effort. When I tinker with the multiple language settings and select my native German tongue, I feel as though I've passed through an international border for a brief second. Last but not least, between the rain-sensing windshield-wiper function and the automatic headlight feature, I've managed to slide two more things off my plate.
Now, testing the Range Rover in just urban territory doesn't seem to do it justice. So in an effort to conduct thorough journalistic research on more rugged terrain (and to maximize our fun potential for the weekend, of course) we head to the hills for a little spring skiing expedition. After I've finally stuffed all the clothes, extra clothes and emergency clothes into our favorite gigantic travel bag, I admire my work. Considering that it feels as though I'm lugging two bodies, I have finally achieved success and am now prepared for every imaginable situation. Furthermore, I manage to dump this oversized, bulky bag into the cargo area of the Range Rover (all without the use of a forklift ... wow, the baby toting must be paying off, because I've got a left arm that rivals Popeye's in strength). Next I load the bottomless cooler, only to be followed by our full-size stroller and a pile of ski gear. I get excited when packing the skis, because Range Rover cleverly includes a ski sack that's attached to the cubby hole leading into the main cabin, keeping any ski gunk contained in said sack (the doggie-pooper-scooper-baggie concept). Now what I'm really getting at is that the Range Rover is a gear-hauling machine, perfect for any on- or off-road adventure. The cargo area is huge, and even I, who am not gifted at arranging luggage into a tight-fitting puzzle, manage to load it all without obstructing the view out back.
I thoroughly enjoy my week in this luxurious, robust SUV, but also realize that as seduced as I am by its allure (I'm loving this car for all the wrong reasons), it is not ergonomically designed with a woman in mind. I find myself doing crazy stretches to reach the kids and their lost sippy cups. Everything seems big, from the steering wheel to the boom-box-like headrests to the center console, which incidentally makes me feel as though I'm doing a weight-bearing exercise whenever I open it. Additionally, the Latch connectors are cumbersome to get to. Other than that, I dig the opulence and feel as safe as I might in a tank, which seems appropriate enough given Land Rover's British military roots.
*For more information on the Land Rover Range Rover and its safety features, visit www.cars.com.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS
LATCH Connectors: 2
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Groove On