2014 Land Rover Range Rover Review

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Nelson Ireson Nelson Ireson Senior Editor
August 11, 2014

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.

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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.

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2014 Land Rover Range Rover

Styling

The new Range Rover's lighter, more modern style is the essence of elegance, from the inside out.

Brand-new last year, the 2014 Range Rover wears its snazzy new looks unchanged into the new model year--though it gains some size in long-wheelbase (LWB) form, and dresses up in the latest designer upholstery for the Autobiography Black edition.

While the new look last year wasn't as dramatic a change as you'll find at some other brands, it is a completely new shape and theme, if executed in heritage proportions. The instant recognizability of the silhouette remains, even though the windshield has been laid back, the front end smoothed out for aerodynamics, and the details changed at almost every point.

At first blush, the Range Rover looks long, but in SUV terms, it's rather low-slung and lithe. Slimmer-seeming roof pillars help lighten the look, complementing the rounder, smoother surfaces.

Nowhere is the updated look more obvious than at the nose, where the Range Rover's slimmer LED headlamps flank a trim mesh grille and faired-in fog lamps. The overall effect gives up some of the rugged off-road appeal in favor of a more sophisticated urban look.

At the rear, the bottom of the SUV sweeps upward, a purposeful nod to the original Range Rover and a decided step away from the blocky, squared-off look seen in Range Rovers when the company was under the BMW Group's ownership. Visually, the tapered tail takes weight and bulk out of the rather large--especially in LWB form--Range Rover.

Inside the Range Rover, the look is true to its heritage, but updated to suit modern tastes--and technologies. Two large LCDs dominate the driver's view of the dash, with one taking the place of a traditional instrument cluster. In the center console, a large touchscreen display sits above the manual climate and system controls, and while the display's interface is cleaner and more elegant than in years past, it's still not likely to win the hearts of many Apple devotees. Thumb controls mounted on the steering wheel fortunately offer remote access to many functions.

Throughout the cabin you'll find rich wood trim, supple leather, and elegant metal that rivals the likes of Bentley. An incredible selection of finishes, materials, and colors are available, allowing you to customize the Range Rover to be truly unique--from the hushed and understated tones of a traditional Range Rover to the audaciously gorgeous, rich hues--rendered in even finer leathers--of the Autobiography and Autobiography Black.  

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2014 Land Rover Range Rover

Performance

Quick, capable, and now more efficient, the 2014 Range Rover commands the road--and the trails.

The 2014 Land Rover Range Rover epitomizes the broad range of capability implied by the two sets of rather repetitive names it bears: it's as capable on-road as off, and the improvements brought to the all-new generation last year just enhance both sides of its ability.

The all-aluminum body of the Range Rover gives it a weight loss of 700 pounds over the previous generation, using riveted and bonded construction for aircraft-quality rigidity and strength. The suspension is also made of both cast and forged aluminum elements, and some of the body panels have been sandwiched with composite liners to further save weight.

For the 2014 model year, the Range Rover line gets rid of the normally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 engine as the base option, replacing it with a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. Rated at 340 horsepower, it's nominally less powerful than the V-8 it replaces, but thanks to the forced induction, it delivers as much or more torque in most use cases, as well as enhanced gas mileage--up to 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway from the V-8's previous rating of 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway. Top-line Range Rovers still use a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 engine rated at 510 horsepower. Whichever engine you choose, an eight-speed ZF-sourced automatic transmission shifts the gears. The high-performance supercharged V-8 engine allows the Range Rover to hit 60 mph from a stop in just 5.1 seconds.

If those numbers read much like a large luxury sedan's, that's not merely coincidental. The ride, street demeanor, and poise all mimic a luxury sedan's as well. The Range Rover's advanced suspension deserves much of the credit for that level of paved-road ability, with control-arm front suspension, multi-link rear suspension and a set of adaptive air dampers at all four corners. Variable-ratio electric power steering never threatens to deliver sports car-like feel, but it does manage nearly Flying Spur or S-Class levels of feedback. All of these suspension and steering elements can also vary with the traction settings provided by the Range Rover's various selectable modes. The combination of power and rugged suspension also enable a towing capacity of up to 7,716 pounds.

Dynamic Response, an active anti-roll bar system, is equipped on supercharged V-8 models. Using the anti-roll bars to dynamically counter body lean when cornering, it flattens out the Range Rover's handling, improving overall road-holding ability without getting in the way of off-road capability--another area where the Range Rover shines.

Full-time four-wheel drive with a 50:50 torque split front-to-rear is the Range Rover's base of strength, but it builds on that with a range of electronic and mechanical technologies that surpass any other luxury SUV. A low-range ratio is available at speeds up to 37 mph for climbing or descending truly steep grades; wheel travel is a considerable 10.2 inches front and 12.2 inches rear; the adaptive air suspension can increase ride height up to 12.2 inches; fording depth is greater than 35 inches; and then there's the Terrain Response Control.

Terrain Response Control uses sensors to detect and predict the grip level of the surface ahead, altering the settings for the traction control, stability control, steering, suspension, and locking differential to suit. Users can also select modes manually, including General; Grass/Gravel/Snow; Mud/Ruts; Sand; and Rock Crawl.

Though its luxurious interior and elegant exterior might not hint at it, our time behind the wheel of the Range Rover attests to its formidable ability to matter the terrain. Whether running sand dunes and rocky outcroppings in Morocco, or muddy trails deep in the woods of North Carolina, the Range Rover's advanced technology enables it to transition from city slicker to expedition adventurer at the mere push of a button.


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2014 Land Rover Range Rover

Comfort & Quality

With exceptional space, especially in new long-wheelbase form, the Range Rover's cabin is eminently comfortable luxurious.

Despite losing 700 pounds from its previous generation, the Range Rover managed to grow in overall size by several inches in nearly every dimension last year. For 2014, the new Long Wheelbase (LWB) model joins the range, adding even more size.

The Range Rover LWB adds a substantial 7.3 inches of rear-seat legroom and nearly 8 inches of wheelbase. The resulting space in the second row is expansive, and can be enhanced further with the addition of an optional executive seating package. For the ultimate in luxury, a new Autobiography Black package for the 2014 model year adds a private jet-level of class and equipment.

The Autobiography Black package, available only on Range Rover LWB models in the U.S., brings with it upgrades to both front and rear seats, including a unique seat cover design, memory seat settings, climate controls for each zone, massage functions, and more. For the rear seat, the Autobiography Black package adds: lumbar massage; powered reclining individual seats; electrically deployable tables with integrated USB charging sockets and cupholders; a chiller box between the rear seats; 10.2-inch rear seat entertainment screens with navigation display; and a power-recliner calf rest for the rear right-hand seat. Other Autobiography Black-package equipment includes configurable LED mood lighting in a range of 10 colors; upgraded veneered surfaces throughout the cabin; more leather-wrapped elements; and unique Autobiography Black script marking its status. Three exclusive interior color combinations are also available for the Black model: Ebony/Lunar; Espresso/Tan; and Dark Cherry/Ivory.

In the more ordinary Range Rovers--which is to say, still very luxurious and accommodating--both standard and long-wheelbase models offer a choice of bench or bucket rear seats, comfortable standard front seats that offer a wide range of adjustment (and some of the softest, most comfortable headrests in the industry), extensive leather upholstery, fine veneers, and Range Rover's typically classy styling and high build quality.

Head room, leg room, and shoulder room are all very good at every seating position; the driver's position is possible as close to ideal as any vehicle on the road when it comes to a commanding view. The driver's seat height is slightly lower than before, at least in some modes, thanks to the variable-height air suspension, but the expansive glass and low dash give unparalleled forward and side visibility.

Standard models also get a host of available rear-seat equipment, including DVD entertainment, heated/ventilated/massaging seats, a chiller box, and more.

Cargo space in the Range Rover is easily accessible thanks to the power tailgate. The tailgate splits horizontally, letting the glass top lift up, while the body-colored lower panel folds downward, presenting a flat surface against the cargo floor. With the lowering air suspension, access to the Range Rover's cargo area rivals that of some much less capable crossovers.

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2014 Land Rover Range Rover

Safety

The Range Rover's long list of safety equipment and aircraft-like architecture promise good safety even in the absence of crash scores.

With an all-aluminum body structure that was all-new for 2013, the 2014 Range Rover hasn't been crash tested yet, but it offers a flotilla of safety equipment.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) haven't yet put the Range Rover through its data-acquiring, crash-test paces, and it's not likely they will, given the Range Rover's high price tag and low expected sales volume.

Nonetheless, we feel confident in assessing the Range Rover's safety score based on the engineering behind the aircraft-style aluminum body structure and extensive safety equipment list. Ample standard airbags, advanced traction control systems, standard four-wheel drive (with its own selectable traction modes), hill-descent control, hill-start assist, adaptive headlights--the list goes on. On the V-8 supercharged models, the traction selection system can even predict grip levels on the terrain ahead.

A surround-view camera is also standard, offering a top-down view of the vehicle for safe and precise maneuvering when parking. Standard Bluetooth with voice control helps keep the driver's hands on the wheel.

Blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and the Range Rover's inherently good visibility all further make it a likely candidate for safe driving.

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2014 Land Rover Range Rover

Features

The new Autobiography Black pushes the Range Rover to new heights of luxury and equipment; even base models are well-equipped.

The 2014 Land Rover Range Rover continues from its fresh start last year with the same key features and options--meaning it's one of the most ultra-luxurious, well-equipped (and upgradeable) SUVs on the planet. New features for the 2014 model year include the Autobiography Black edition, which takes the Autobiography package to truly unbelievable levels of luxury and equipment.

Starting at about $84,000, the Range Rover's standard features include an eight-speed automatic transmission, a supercharged V-6 engine, four-wheel drive, user-selectable traction control modes, and much more, mechanically speaking. On the features front, cruise control, power windows/locks, keyless entry, push-button start, three-mode automatic climate control, power-heated front seats, and a power-split tailgate with integrated liftgate are also included.

Infotainment equipment includes dual LCD screens in the front row; one is a 12.3-inch display in place of the gauges, while the second is an 8-inch touchscreen for control of the entertainment systems, navigation, and more. While the interface for the touchscreen system has been updated, it's still not one of the most intuitive or easily-accessed infotainment systems on the market--perhaps the only black mark on the Range Rover's list of successes.

The Range Rover's standard audio system is powered by Meridian audio processing, packing 300 watts of sound. An upgrade to the top-of-the-line system brings 29 speakers, 1,700 watts of power, and more Meridian processing. It lacks a bit of punch, but it's still a clean, sweet-sounding system.

Convenience and luxury upgrades include 20-way power front seats with heating, ventilation, and massage functions; a panoramic sunroof; rear-seat DVD entertainment; soft-close doors; electrically deployed running boards; and cooler boxes. On the safety feature sheet, adaptive cruise control, speed limiting, and surround view cameras are among the available extras.

The cabin of every Range Rover is swathed in leather by default, all semi-aniline--meaning soft to the touch--and gorgeous to look at. Autobiography and Autobiography Black models can upgrade to even nicer leathers. An extensive color palette is available, both inside and outside the Range Rover, including a choice of black or silver roof with any of 37 body colors; 17 interior colors and 3 veneers; and 22 Autobiography-exclusive paint choices.

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2014 Land Rover Range Rover

Fuel Economy

The new supercharged V-6 engine improves the Range Rover's gas mileage considerably, but it's still no green machine.

The 2014 Land Rover Range Rover ditches its normally aspirated V-8 base engine for a new supercharged 3.0-liter V-6, and gains considerable gas mileage in the process.

The previous base V-8 rated just 14 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined. With the updated supercharged V-6, base Range Rovers now offer 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and a combined rating of 19 mpg.

At the upper end of the Range Rover line, a 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 continues to offer its robust blend of power and civility, but also continues on with less-than-impressive gas mileage, even amongst its V-8 cohort. At 13 mpg city, 19 mpg highway, and 15 mpg combined, it's not the choice for those concerned with their environmental footprint, even if it does outperform some of the luxury SUV competition.

Nevertheless, the newest supercharged V-8 Range Rovers are more efficient than the previous generation of the vehicle, thanks to a new all-aluminum construction that saves 700 pounds.

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