- Familiar yet modern shape
- Light aluminum structure
- Strong supercharged engines
- New design isn't that radical
- Touchscreen interface lacks finesse
- Off-road electronics take away some of the fun
Few vehicles can equal the 2016 Land Rover Range Rover's levels of performance and luxury on pavement; even fewer can keep up with it off-road.
Today's Land Rover Range Rover was new for the 2013 model year, artfully blending more than 40 years of off-road heritage with the latest in technology and refinement to create a very balanced reinterpretation of the now-basic-seeming Range Rover that started it all. Land Rover has added modern powertrains, more luxury options, and additional ways to customize the Range Rover experience while retaining the impressive off-road capabilities on all models.
The U.K.-built Range Rover starts from about $86,000 for the base standard-wheelbase model with the V-6. The diesel commands a $1,500 premium. The SV Autobiography is priced from a staggering $200,000.
The look combines the classic lines of the original with a bit of streamlining, creating a modern take on the boxy, upright themes of past decades. From the side, the 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. At the rear, a slightly up-swept profile is reminiscent of the original. Inside the new Range Rover you'll find very modern accommodations, with a distinctly high-tech look and feel; huge LCD screens nestle into wood and semi-aniline-leather surroundings. In the Autobiography edition, the feel is more hand-built bespoke than production-volume luxury.
In 2014, Land Rover replaced the previously standard V-8 engine with a new supercharged V-6. Combined with the all-aluminum construction introduced in 2013—making this model fully 700 pounds lighter than its predecessor—that engine helps to further boost efficiency, allowing the big Range Rover to meet various challenging global fuel-economy and carbon emissions goals. To balance that somewhat, a long-wheelbase model was introduced in 2014—it's the limo of SUVs, or possibly the SUV of limos, depending on how you look at things. For 2015, Land Rover made the LWB Rover more attainable, introducing an HSE-trimmed version that uses the supercharged V-6. Long-wheelbase models continue to be available with the supercharged V-8, with varying degrees of fancy furnishings.
New for 2016 is a turbodiesel V-6 that eclipses the gas V-6 in fuel economy and to some degree, logic. The 3.0-liter diesel V-6 is rated at 254 hp and 440 lb-ft, and coupled to the usual four-wheel drive and 8-speed automatic, delivers an EPA-rated 25 mpg combined—exceptional numbers for one of the world's plushest utility vehicles.
Lighter, stiffer, more efficient, and still quite powerful, the Range Rover is an impressive SUV, both on-road and off. Base and HSE models are powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine rated at 380 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. A supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 is also included on higher-tier models, rated at 510 hp. An 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters delivers smooth, quick shifts in all models. Base and HSE models equipped with the supercharged V-6 (including the new LWB HSE) return 17/23/19 mpg.
Feeling more like a long, tall touring sedan than the tippy, off-road-biased SUV it once was, the new Range Rover's manners are better than ever. Independent suspension, adaptive air dampers, and variable-ratio electric power steering help deliver more finely tuned responses. The result is a smooth, languid experience behind the wheel with a feeling of greater control and directness. On models equipped with the Dynamic Response system, which includes active anti-roll bars, the feeling is more taut and sporty, while still offering ample comfort—and plenty of off-road ability. Somewhat surprisingly, 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.
The Range Rover is every bit as at home in dirt, mud, gravel, snow, or sand as it is on asphalt. Full-time four-wheel drive, plus a new generation of Land Rover's excellent Terrain Response system make for a truly fit and effortless off-roader. Terrain Response 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 four different modes: General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, and Sand, while vehicles equipped with the Heavy Duty package add 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 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 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 an entry/exit 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 package (a limited edition upgrade above and beyond the ritzy Autobiography), the luxury factor goes through the roof, with even more premium materials and available gadgets. On all models, 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 8.0-inch touchscreen in the center stack that handles infotainment duty. A combination of touchscreen menus and physical buttons controls climate, phone, audio, navigation, and more. The screen's interface on the central display has been 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 finer leather, a panoramic sunroof, a 1,700-watt Meridian audio system, cooler boxes, and more are available. Aesthetes can pick from a selection of 37 exterior colors, 17 interior colors, and three veneers.