- Familiar yet modern shape
- Light aluminum structure
- New supercharged V-6 engines
- Smooth-shifting automatic transmission
- Fantastic rear-seat accommodations
- New design isn't that radical
- Touchscreen interface isn't very pretty
- Off-road electronics take away some of the fun
- Audio systems aren't overwhelming
The 2014 Land Rover Range Rover adds long-wheelbase comfort and Autobiography Black style to an already impressive all-purpose vehicle.
All new just last year, the 2014 Land Rover Range Rover retains its position at the very top of the luxury SUV segment. While the first Range Rovers more than 40 years ago now seem laughably archaic, the latest edition is firmly steeped in tradition but completely up to date in design, materials, features, and capabilities. It's got modern powertrains (and more to come), superb interior design and materials, and the latest in sophisticated electronics. The total package makes it one of the most impressive, desirable sport utilities in the world.
As one owner once said, "It'll climb mountains, rocks, and probably trees, all without disturbing your enjoyment of one of the subtler symphony movements"--although the champagne in your passenger's flute may slosh a bit.
For 2014, Range Rover has replaced the previous standard V-8 engine with a new supercharged V-6. Combined with the all-aluminum construction pioneered in 2013--fully 700 pounds lighter than its predecessor--the new engine boosts efficiency even further to meet various challenging global fuel-economy and carbon emissions goals.
So how does the new Land Rover Range Rover look? Just about like it should, though it's a very streamlined, modern take on the boxy, upright themes of past decades. From the side, the 2014 Range Rover looks fairly traditional, though the wraparound headlights, the more relaxed windshield angle, and the floating roof all help keep it fresh and interesting. Head-on, the Range Rover's "face" is friendlier, with each surface seemingly flush with the next, from the grille to the headlights to the bumper to the hood. At the rear, a slightly up-swept profile is reminiscent of the original. Inside the new Range Rover you'll find even more modern accommodations, with a distinctly high-tech look and feel; huge LCD screens nestle in ranks of wood and semi-aniline leather surroundings. In the Autobiography edition (and especially the all-new Autobiography Black), the feel is more hand-built bespoke than production-volume luxury.
Lighter, stiffer, more efficient, and still quite powerful, the 2014 Range Rover is an impressive SUV, both on-road and off. Replacing the previous normally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 is a new 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine rated at 340 horsepower. That's a decrease of 35 horsepower, but it brings gains in gas mileage, and wrapped in the new Range Rover's all-aluminum chassis, it still feels plenty athletic--if anything, even more so thanks to its ample 332 pound-feet of torque. A supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 is also available for higher-tier models, rated at 510 horsepower. A ZF eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters delivers smooth, quick shifts in all models.
Feeling more like a long, tall touring sedan than the tippy, off-road-biased SUV it once did, the new Range Rover's manners are better than ever. Independent suspension, adaptive air dampers, and variable-ratio electric power steering help deliver these more finely tuned responses. The result is a smooth, languid experience behind the wheel with a feeling of greater control and directness. On Supercharged models, which also gain an active anti-roll bar system, the feeling is more taut and sporty, but can still offer ample comfort--and plenty of off-road ability, too. Surprisingly, perhaps, the long-wheelbase version of the new Range Rover feels just as nimble, with no noticeable difference in manners despite growing about 7 inches in wheelbase and rear leg room.
In the dirt, mud, gravel, snow, or sand, the Range Rover is every bit as at home as it is on the asphalt. Full-time four-wheel drive, plus a new generation of Land Rover's excellent Terrain Response Control system make for a truly fit off-roader. The Terrain Response Control system uses sensors to predict surface traction ahead of the vehicle, modifying parameters for the stability control, traction control, and active differential on the fly. Drivers can also select from give different modes: General; Grass/Gravel/Snow; Mud/Ruts; Sand; and Rock Crawl. With more than 12 inches of ground clearance when the air suspension is raised to its highest setting, and three feet of fording depth, the 2014 Range Rover is more than just a flashy luxury SUV--it's a real Land Rover. On top of its on-road and off-road ability, the Range Rover can also tow up to 7,700 pounds.
Despite being lighter, the new Range Rover is about 1.7 inches longer (in standard form) than its predecessor. There's also an additional 4.7 inches of leg room (or 7.3 inches in the long-wheelbase model). The front seats carry on the Range Rover tradition of offering fantastic visibility owing to their upright position and low, expansive glass all around. Step-in height is lower than before, too, thanks to a lower setting for the air suspension. In the rear, the seats recline and feature heating, ventilation, and massage functions, and also offer limo-like leg room, especially in the long-wheelbase version. With the Autobiography Black package (a limited edition upgrade beyond even the Autobiography), the luxury factor goes through the roof, with even more premium materials and available gadgets. The rear tailgate design features a split design with power-operated elements.
Dual LCD screens are standard in all Range Rovers, including a 12.3-inch unit that replaces the instrument panel, and an 8-inch touchscreen in the center stack that handles infotainment duty. A combination of touchscreen inputs and physical buttons controls climate, phone, audio, navigation, and more. The screen's interface on the central display is upgraded from previous models, but doesn't quite match the slickness of the larger instrument panel screen. All models also get leather upholstery as standard equipment, but upgrades to a panoramic sunroof, a 1,700-watt Meridian audio system, surround-view cameras, cooler boxes, and more are available. Aesthetes can pick from a selection of 37 exterior colors, 17 interior colors, and three veneers.
The U.K.-built Range Rover starts from $83,500 for base models, about $100,000 for the Supercharged, and more than $130,000 for the ultra-lux Autobiography models. Long wheelbase models begin sales in March, 2014.