It's not out of bounds to suggest that the Range Rover's always dressed better than its passengers, is it?
Officially a 2013 model for the U.S. market, the new Range Rover may not strike all comers as a big departure from the 2012 model. To us, its recognizable two-box silhouette gets just the right balance of heritage-infused details and untouched expanses of bodywork and glass, with a library-like cabin finished exquisitely at the Autobiography level.
The 2013 Range Rover first looks long, but it's lithe for an SUV. The stance reads lower and the roof pillars seem slimmer; from the sideview, the Range Rover has some crosscurrents with the Ford Flex, which has been roundly pointed out as a blend of Fairlane and Range Rover cues since it was introduced back in 2009.
The key clues as to the Range Rover's freshness are in the front end: LED headlamps are slimmer, and frame a trimmer mesh grille, over perfectly faired-in fog lamps. It's one of the points where designers admit to dialing back the rugged SUV appeal, to warm up the Range Rover's appeal to luxury-sedan shoppers. There's also a distinct callback in the way the sill line kicks up at the rear end; it's more like the first Range Rovers that came to America under the brand name, back in the mid-1980s, and less like the blocky BMW-era utes that followed. The tapering pulls a lot of visual weight out of the Range Rover's rear end, as does the silver finish along the sills that suggests the Range Rover's new aluminum core.
The cabin stays just as true to long-standing Range Rover cues, with a wide LCD screen taking up center stage on the dash, and a pair of round thumb controls studding the steering wheel. The center console now has a rising rotary shift knob like the one found in the Range Rover Evoque and in the Jaguar lineup, and a large LCD touchscreen interface for infotainment systems. The interface itself has been cleaned up, but it's not rendered in the same loving depth as the LCD gauges. It could use a hug from a design squad with Apple's sensibilities, a fix that's usually only a firmware update away.
It's all surrounded by the customary wood and leather that's rivaled only by the likes of Bentley. The staggering set of finishes spans from a gloss-black trim and semi-aniline leather, with hushed touches of ambient lighting and aluminum trim, on the standard Range Rover, to the audacious and gorgeous trims fitted in the $130,000-plus Autobiography models. Finer leather from the dash to the doors to the headliner's just the start; those top models have 22 distinct paint colors, and a striped-grain wood choice that might have been inspired by an Art Deco waterfall chest.