Headed 'Over the River and Through the Wood'? Drive This...

Over-the-river_3.2.jpg illustration by Paul Dolan

CARS.COM — Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and tens of millions of Americans will be going “over the river and through the wood to grandmother’s house,” as one version of the Lydia Maria Child song goes. First off, we gotta ask all the grandmothers out there who insist on living out in the middle of nowhere: Is it too much to ask for you to retire to Boca Raton, instead? And to Grammy’s invited guests: In the face of such treacherous terrain to traverse, what do you plan on driving there

Related: What’s the Deadliest Holiday for Drivers?

We have a suggestion. At the Midwest Automotive Media Association’s Fall Rally in September, we availed ourselves of the off-road course that allowed us to drive some rough ‘n’ rugged vehicles. These included 2016 versions of the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, Wrangler Willys Wheeler and Renegade Trailhawk SUVs, a 2017 Nissan Titan Pro-4X pickup truck, a 2016 Ram Rebel pickup, a 2016 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Limited SUV and a 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro pickup.

All were capable of holding their own on the at-times-thrilling, at-other-times-harrowing off-road course in a heavily wooded area on the grounds of the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill. But when we started perusing the verses of the famed holiday favorite, only one emerged as the obvious choice for the journey to grandmother’s house — and all the factors involved in the trek, from luxurious passenger comfort to turkey transport: the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE TD6.

Let’s take it one obstacle at a time:

Over the river, and through the wood,

To Grandmother’s house we go;

the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh

through the white and drifted snow.


17_LandRover_RangeRover_OffRoad_MAMA_ES_01.jpg 2017 Land Rover Range Rover | photo by Evan Sears


River? Woods? If you need to ford water and conquer hills all while negotiating your way around trees, the Rover’s got what you need. Among its off-road bona fides are 10.4 inches of ground clearance, a 26.4-degree approach angle and a 24.6-degree departure angle. And for an extra $1,750 on the $72,945 starting price ($995 destination charge included), you can get the Extra Duty Package, which includes terrain response, adaptive dynamics and all-terrain progress control.

And tell the horse to take an oat-bag break. The 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6 engine has 254 horsepower, along with 440 pounds-feet of torque and full-time four-wheel drive, all of which more than justifies a dismissive utterance of snow-schmow. As for knowing the way, good for that horse — of course, of course — but we’ll just go ahead and take our turn-by-turn driving directions from the standard integrated navigation system.

Over the river, and through the wood,

to Grandmother’s house away!

We would not stop for doll or top,

for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.


17_LandRover_RangeRover_OffRoad_MAMA_ES_04.jpg 2017 Land Rover Range Rover | photo by Evan Sears


OK, but if you do happen to pick up a stray top in your tire, the $2,000 5+2 Seating Package comes with a tire repair kit. Also, if you need to help out one of your fellow, less capable travelers, the Rover boasts 7,716 pounds of towing capacity, and it offers an advanced tow assist feature and the Rover Tow Package with hitch receiver and vehicle electrical wiring for a combined $2,900.

Over the river, and through the wood —

oh, how the wind does blow!

It stings the toes and bites the nose

as over the ground we go.


17_LandRover_RangeRover_OffRoad_MAMA_ES_02.jpg 2017 Land Rover Range Rover | photo by Evan Sears


Assuage your aversion to the outside elements with the Front Climate Comfort & Visibility Pack ($2,800), featuring heated leather front and rear seats and a heated steering wheel, in addition to standard dual-zone climate control and a heated windshield with heated washer jets.

Over the river, and through the wood —

and straight through the barnyard gate,

We seem to go extremely slow,

it is so hard to wait!


17_LandRover_RangeRover_OffRoad_MAMA_ES_03.jpg 2017 Land Rover Range Rover | photo by Evan Sears


The anticipation may make the trip seem slow going, but with the $2,500 Driver Assistance Pack’s traffic-sign recognition and lane departure warning, the driver will have all available tools to be traveling at the maximum speed possible or permissible. Then again, with the $2,000 Rear Seat Entertainment package with remote control and wireless headphones, you may just settle in and remember that getting there is half the fun.

Over the river, and through the wood —

When Grandmother sees us come,

She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,

bring a pie for everyone.”

That sounds amazing, but maybe take some of the baking burden off Grandma and bring a few pies, or whatever, along. You’ll have 27.7 cubic feet of cargo space available — 62.2 cubic feet with the seats folded — so you really don’t have much of an excuse to not contribute to the feast.

Over the river, and through the wood —

now Grandmother’s cap I spy!

Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?

Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

We actually prefer pecan, but whatever. Here’s to safe travels and a happy Thanksgiving. Tell Grandma we said hi (and give her those Boca brochures).

Photo of Matt Schmitz
Former Assistant Managing Editor-News Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt Schmitz

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