Glancing at the back of the 2007 Land Rover Range Rover HSE owner's manual, I notice four official seals, stating "by appointment to Her Majesty the Queen," "by appointment to His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh," "by appointment to HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother" and "by appointment to HRH the Prince of Wales." Wow, that is mega royalty, indeed. So where do I fit into the picture? How about HM (Her Momship) the Queen Bee? Yep, that sounds right!
For starters, I ponder ditching my sweats and donning something more appropriate. After all, I'd like to live up to my new role as Her Momship. I decide a pair of my favorite jeans coupled with heels and a fancy purse will do the trick. Dressed up in my new ride, I'm feeling very much like royalty.
At least, I imagine I would feel that way if I were actually in the vehicle. As it's night, however, and the key fob is black on black, I can't see a blasted thing. Where is my chauffeur, already? How about a spare MI6 agent with night-vision goggles? While I'm on the key fob, why does it take a thumb made of steel (mine is cramping) to actually get the buttons to respond? Holding that thumb position long enough is well worth the effort, though, since all of the Range Rover's doors, windows and even the sunroof majestically open up for me. Her Momship's chariot awaits!
Although the Range Rover is definitely ready for me, my precious little princes are another story. You see, there are two issues to work around: No. 1, don't even consider three kids in car/booster seats in the rear. In order to get all three kids into the Range Rover for carpool (two boosters and one car seat), I'm confronted with a last-minute shuffle. Even after this rearrangement, securing the kids is still a nightmare. While my son is already sitting in his skinny booster (at 13 inches wide it's one of the narrowest available), I am forced to buckle him in because he has NO chance of doing it on his own. To accomplish this seemingly effortless task, I painstakingly lift up my son's booster (with his 40-some-odd pounds in it), laboriously shove it against his brother's car seat and barely make it to the seat belt receptacle. Finally, I'm ready for the third child (a first-grader), but because she also can't reach and manipulate the receptacle, I'm left buckling her in as well. So much for fostering independence. Needless to say, this ridiculous exercise leaves me completely exasperated, and any visions of royalty have vanished into thin air, along with my discarded heels (a casualty of the need for better car-seat leverage).
As for problem No. 2, the Latch connectors are much too tightly sandwiched between the seatback and the seat bottom. Luckily, I can comfortably access the plain old top-tether anchors, which I use to secure my 2-year-old's car seat. For persons with older, non-car-seat riding children who are exempt from such car-seat debacles (and whom I seriously envy right about now), I suspect the rear seat heaters and the rear auxiliary jack would make for splendidly good times.
Having just aired my major complaints with the Range Rover, let me get to the juicy stuff.
Despite all those grievances, I have a secret to confess: I have a crush on the Range Rover. I absolutely love its look and feel. The classic body style blends a certain ruggedness with understated aristocracy (Her Momship is resurfacing). Furthermore, I appreciate that the interior uses the right amount of metal-like accents to add to that mildly industrial look.
On a stretch of gravel out in the boonies, I catch myself driving way too fast, as the Range Rover seemingly glides over everything from potholes to rocks. Her Momship is on cloud nine, and the music she's got pumping from the 14-speaker surround-sound system is definitely adding to the majestic moment. Additionally, some fluff I can't help but be intrigued by is a body that lowers for easy entry, and steering-wheel heat. On a more rational and realistic note, I appreciate that the Range Rover is outfitted with nine airbags.
Although the Range Rover HSE is not the best vehicle choice for families with young children, it does have a certain seductive appeal. Infatuations do tend to make us blind to major annoyances, don't they? I guess that would be called compromise. On second thought, Land Rover, why not just do parents a favor and rectify the seat belt/Latch situation in the back? After all, even royalty doesn't preclude parenthood.
*For more information on the Range Rover and its safety features, visit 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): Fair - Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair - Great (ideal with two older kids; not with three little ones, due to difficulty reaching the seat belt receptacles)
Fun Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Groove On
Base price: $76,535
Price as tested: $77,350
Engine: 305-hp, 4.4-liter V-8
Fuel: 14/19 mpg
Ground Clearance: 8.9"/11.2"
Turning Radius: 19.0'
Cargo space: 74.9 cu. ft.
NHTSA Crash-Test Ratings
Driver's side: Not Rated
Passenger's side: Not Rated
Front occupant: Not Rated
Rear occupant: Not Rated
Rollover resistance: Not Rated