The 2014 Land Rover Range Rover is a plush, powerful SUV that offers more off-road capability than most owners will ever need. It remains the ultraluxury SUV benchmark.
The name "Range Rover" has permeated much of Land Rover's lineup thanks to the addition of the Range Rover Evoque small crossover and Range Rover Sport SUV. The 2014 Range Rover Sport now shares its platform with the Range Rover, but is considerably less expensive.
As Land Rover's top-of-the-line model, the Range Rover carries a premium price tag: The 2014 starts at $84,225 including a $925 destination charge, but the supercharged V-8 models we tested — both regular- and long-wheelbase versions — start at $101,025 and $106,225, respectively. To see the Range Rover's specs compared with the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, Porsche Cayenne and Lexus LX 570, click here.
Exterior & Styling
The Range Rover's styling doesn't veer far from prior versions. The classic proportions are familiar, and the SUV's appearance has a certain timelessness. When you look at a Range Rover — this one or any of its predecessors — you know what it is without needing to see a badge.
Land Rover has worked a number of aerodynamic improvements into the design to increase its efficiency. Both the grille and windshield are less upright, and the body narrows at the rear. Underbody panels are designed to smooth airflow below the vehicle.
How It Drives
With a supercharged V-8 under the hood, the Range Rover plays tricks with your mind; it's hard to get your head around how quickly and effortlessly this big SUV gains speed. It's unrelentingly ferocious, and Land Rover cites a zero-to-60-mph time of 5.1 seconds, which is nearly a second quicker than the prior-generation model. Chalk another one up for lower vehicle weight. (This Range Rover uses an all-aluminum unibody that shaves more than 700 pounds from the previous generation's curb weight, which was around 5,700 to 5,900 pounds, depending on trim level.)
The supercharged V-8's massive output — 510 horsepower and 461 pounds-feet of torque — is fully experienced on the highway. Pin the gas pedal to the floor when cruising at 50 mph and you'll hit 70 mph in just a few seconds.
The supercharged V-8 teams with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The transmission listens well, kicking down a gear or more immediately when you apply the gas partway. It also responds quickly when you floor the gas pedal, dropping a few gears before the SUV lunges forward.
You don't notice the long-wheelbase-model's extra mass and length, which results in 7.3 inches of additional backseat legroom. The supercharged V-8 still feels stout and gives this big SUV a muscular personality.
Despite the Range Rover's dramatic weight loss, the supercharged V-8 version's EPA-estimated gas mileage is only 13/19/15 mpg city/highway/combined. In long-wheelbase form it's slightly better, at 14/19/16 mpg. The base Range Rover, with its new-for-2014 supercharged V-6, has the best rating: 17/23/19 mpg.
Besides its on-road quickness, the Range Rover is a legitimate off-road SUV with a full-time four-wheel-drive system that incorporates a low range. There's roughly 12 inches of ground clearance in the suspension's off-road mode, and its water wading depth is up to 35.4 inches, according to Land Rover.
Land Rover's available Terrain Response 2 Auto system builds on the standard Terrain Response technology by adding an automatic mode. It switches among the five system modes — General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand and Rock Crawl — as conditions dictate, rather than relying on the driver.
While the Range Rover retains some classic SUV characteristics, like a tendency to dive when coming to a stop, it feels secure and confident on the highway. It handles well for a large SUV. When powered by the supercharged V-8 engine, the Range Rover has an active air suspension system that keeps body roll in check when cornering — much more so than in many large SUVs. Comfort-oriented ride tuning, a quiet cabin and commanding visibility enhance the driving experience. However, the standard heated windshield — which includes embedded filaments in the glass — annoyed some drivers. The filaments are especially distracting when driving at night.
The Range Rover floats easily over big dips in the road, but it still reacts to a lot of small imperfections; I'm surprised the air suspension doesn't do a better job minimizing them. The steering system is especially good at insulating you from road shocks, but it comes at the expense of steering feedback, which is nonexistent.
As is Range Rover tradition, the interior is richly appointed in leather, aluminum and wood trim. Electronic screens have a prominent role, too, starting with the instrument panel; it uses a 12.3-inch screen to simulate conventional analog gauges. This screen went completely blank without warning multiple times in a previous Range Rover we tested, but we didn't have any problems this time around.
Audio and navigation features are among those consolidated to an 8-inch touch-screen in the middle of the dashboard. The screen responds quickly to most commands, but it slows down when you're entering an address into the navigation system.
Comfortable front bucket seats incorporate infinitely adjustable inboard armrests, a signature Land Rover feature.
Like the front seats, the rear seat has comfortable, firm cushioning. There's good legroom for taller adults in the regular-length Range Rover and serious space to stretch your legs in the long-wheelbase version. The backrest reclines; a power-reclining seat is optional. The manual recline and fold functions are operated by a lever on the side of the seat cushion. Lift it and the backrest folds forward, though not completely flat with the cargo floor. It takes some effort to put the larger of the two backrest sections back in place for passenger use.
Neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has crash-tested the Range Rover.
Optional features include a forward collision warning system with an auto-braking function, adaptive cruise control that can bring the vehicle to a complete stop if traffic necessitates, a blind spot warning system, lane departure warning, rear cross-path detection, automatic high-beam headlights and a surround camera system.
Value in Its Class
Automakers may be keenly focused on building more efficient cars, but the effort probably doesn't matter all that much to shoppers considering high-priced luxury SUVs. It's not as though they're demanding lighter, more efficient models, and anyone who can afford a Range Rover is unlikely to be concerned by daily price fluctuations at the pump. The Range Rover is becoming more efficient, but it also delivers the things that truly matter in this class: stately styling, incredible performance and a luxurious cabin. Its varied skills continue to set it apart.
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