2008 Land Rover Range Rover Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
June 14, 2008

The 2008 Land Rover Range Rover remains the ultimate luxury sport-utility vehicle, a well-heeled performer for those well-heeled enough to own one.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com researched road tests from around the Web to bring you this conclusive review of the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover. TheCarConnection.com’s car experts also drove the Land Rover Range Rover, to add driving impressions and opinions where it might help you make a better purchase decision.

The 2008 Land Rover Range Rover is the ultimate luxury sport-utility vehicle. It's the official off-roader of the English royal family, and it's the unofficial paparazzi escape vehicle for Hollywood. Despite the emergence of Escalades, Navigators, X5s, and G-Class utes, the Range Rover remains atop the SUV heap.

It's offered in two versions for the 2008 model year, and they're rated at the same fuel economy. The base Range Rover HSE, with a price tag of more than $77,000, offers a 4.2-liter V-8 engine with 305 horsepower. It gets 12/18 mpg, just like the supercharged Range Rover SC, which delivers 400 hp, a 0-60 mph time of 7.1 seconds, and a price tag of more than $92,000.

Performance is surprisingly strong with either vehicle. The supercharged version makes an unmistakable whine, which immediately will remind British car fans of this ute's heritage. On-road handling is sharp enough, with slow but progressive steering and a composed ride, with reasonable handling for such a tall, heavy (6,000-plus pounds) vehicle.

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Take it off-road and the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover shows the mettle that earned its royal reputation. All sorts of electronics and hardware ensure lots of traction in sand, snow, and mud. The suspension's height is adjustable for crossing large obstacles, and hill descent control makes rolling down slopes a snap.

Inside the Range Rover, five passengers now enjoy four-zone air conditioning. Rear-seat passengers now can control their own air temperatures and vents; there is no third-row seat. The front buckets are thrones, upholstered perfectly with great outward visibility. There's plush carpet, wood trim, and leather everywhere--and Land Rover even allows you to choose wood cut from sustainable forests.

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2008 Land Rover Range Rover

Styling

The 2008 Land Rover Range Rover sports handsome, rugged styling inside and out.

The 2008 Land Rover Range Rover is a classically handsome SUV that earns high praise from reviewers around the car world, who admire its mix of the rugged and the luxurious.

According to Cars.com, the Range Rover 2008 features "an upright grille, flanked by standard high-intensity-discharge headlights...a downward-sloping roofline, side vents in the front fenders, rocker panel moldings and standard 19-inch alloy wheels with low-profile tires." Buyers can (and probably will) upgrade to the 20-inch wheels, which are standard on the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover HSE trim. Kelley Blue Book reports that the Land Rover Range Rover's overall styling pays tribute to tradition while offering somewhat more refinement: "the Range Rover was defined by its boxy, upright greenhouse and short front and rear overhangs. The Land Rover Range Rover continues this theme but with a polish never before seen on a Land Rover product," confirming Edmund's description of the Range Rover 2008 as the "most elegant and distinctive utility vehicle on the market."

The interior of the Land Rover Range Rover is as finely crafted as the outside; simulated burl walnut is standard, but real wood is available as an option. The genuine leather seats even feature piping in a contrasting color; Kelley Blue Book says it has "one of the most handsome interiors ever to grace an SUV." Cars.com considers that the interior of the Range Rover 2008 to be "generally outstanding," but adds that "some major features are starting to show their age." Edmunds says the "cabin design is a mix of traditional and modern" with the Land Rover Range Rover's "upright seating position, blocky dash and large steering wheel evok[ing] the feeling of an old-school Land Rover," while the "firm leather seats," "walnut inlays," and high-tech gadgetry "assure you that this is indeed a contemporary luxury vehicle."

Beyond this, there have been few changes in the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover. TheCarConnection.com notes relatively few reviews of this vehicle that do not rely on material from previous years' models; ConsumerGuide confirms this, stating that "sources see no major near-term changes for Range Rover."

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2008 Land Rover Range Rover

Performance

The 2008 Land Rover Range Rover has strong performance on- and off-road.

Performance of the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover is what you would expect in a $70,000-$84,000 vehicle.

Reviews of the Land Rover Range Rover's performance specs ranged from mildly disapproving to positively glowing. AutoWeek, mentioning that the engine's "power isn't what it needs to be to carry the vehicle with a load of adults and gear down the highway," says that the transmission "kicks down way too much to maintain highway speed." Nonetheless, the base 2008 Land Rover Range Rover's 4.4-liter cranks out 305 hp--"plenty of grunt" for passing, according to Autoblog.

ConsumerGuide considers that the engine of the Range Rover 2008 provides "ample power for daily driving," and this is perhaps even truer when it comes to the optional supercharged V-8 model, which puts out 400 hp. ConsumerGuide also reports that the Land Rover Range Rover's six-speed automatic transmission--the only one offered on all trims--has a manual shift gate for those who must shift their own gears. This is what Edmunds describes as "sequential-shift manual mode."

Although mileage figures were not given for the turbocharged engine, the standard V-8-equipped Range Rover 2008 travels up to 18 mpg on the highway and 12 mpg in the city according to FuelEconomy.gov; other sources report identical figures for the turbocharged version.

Kelley Blue Book declares that the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover "is equipped with one of the finest off-road systems ever designed." One of the more interesting features in this regard is the air-spring suspension that allows the driver to raise the vehicle in order to increase ground clearance, or lower it for stability. It is "devoid of that top-heavy feel you sometimes experience in softly-sprung SUVs." ConsumerGuide calls the Land Rover Range Rover a "mountain goat off-road and carlike on-road," but cautions that its "tall build contributes to pronounced body lean in corners." As far as braking performance is concerned, this source reports that "stopping performance [is] good for a big SUV." Meanwhile, ForbesAutos tells us that the Land Rover Range Rover's "stiff structure and sophisticated independent air-sprung suspension create taut, sporty handling," comparing favorably with that of actual sportscars. According to Edmunds, the driver is able to electronically "customize powertrain, suspension and electronic systems to best handle various off-road conditions."

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2008 Land Rover Range Rover

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Land Rover Range Rover has exceptional material quality and ample room for five adults.

TheCarConnection.com gives the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover a perfect 10 for comfort and interior quality.

Edmunds says that the "seating position is notably upright, but both front and rear passengers will find the accommodations supportive and roomy" while riding in the Range Rover 2008. According to ForbesAutos, "five adults will find that the Range Rover's leather-clad cabin affords ample comfort"; Kelley Blue Book cautions that it "has excellent room for four passengers, though it is designed to hold five." Autoblog praises the Land Rover Range Rover's "supportive seats," which "are a treat for those staring down long stretches of bitumen." These, according to Cars.com, are available in "two grades of leather upholstery: Blenheim and Windsor," of which Windsor is the higher grade; the reviewer comments of the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover's seats that "their quality would befit any six-figure car, though the raised stitching on the inserts dug into my back at times." The 2008 Land Rover Range Rover has no third row, but "both rows of seats offer excellent legroom and headroom."

Cars.com reports "maximum cargo volume of 74.2 cubic feet"; Edmunds says this is "only average due to a high load floor." ConsumerGuide agrees, saying "overall cargo volume is tight for the class," but does note that "dual gloveboxes and large door pockets make for good interior storage."

Almost every source gives the Range Rover 2008 high marks for comfort and interior quality, with AutoWeek proclaiming that it is "barely rattled by anything the back roads can dish out." ForbesAutos gloats that one riding in the Land Rover Range Rover can "sip champagne from its exquisite leather seats while fording streams and climbing muddy grades." Kelley Blue Book says that the interior "fit and finish...lead[s] one to believe it was handcrafted." ConsumerGuide says that the "interior is premium all the way...materials used befit the Range Rover's premium pedigree."

When it comes to noise levels aboard the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover, ConsumerGuide reports that the "engine emits a refined snarl during acceleration, is inaudible otherwise. Impressively little wind or road noise for a tall SUV...virtually no coarse-surface tire thrum."

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2008 Land Rover Range Rover

Safety

The 2008 Land Rover Range Rover has myriad safety features, but hasn’t been tested yet.

The 2008 Land Rover Range Rover offers a superior level of safety but has not been tested yet by federal or private groups.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not yet tested the Range Rover 2008, nor does the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have figures for this year's Land Rover Range Rover.

Unsurprising in a vehicle with its high price tag, the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover comes with an impressive number of safety features. According to ConsumerGuide, the base model's standard safety equipment includes "hill descent control designed to limit speed on steep descents...rearview camera [and] front and rear obstacle detection." This is, of course, in addition to anti-lock brakes, a full complement of airbags, and an electronic stability system with rollover mitigation technology. TheCarConnection.com notes that all sources comment favorably on the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover's array of airbags; Cars.com reports that "curtain airbags typically cover the entire window."

Cars.com also reports that "thanks to tall windows and a mildly raked windshield, forward visibility is excellent." However, this source mentions that the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover's large head restraints "can reduce side and rear visibility a bit." ConsumerGuide says that the "view aft and to the sides [is] blocked by thick headrests and roof pillars, making the standard obstacle detection necessary. The rearview camera also helps."

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2008 Land Rover Range Rover

Features

The 2008 Land Rover Range Rover is packed with standard and optional features, some on the cutting edge of high tech.

There are gadgets aplenty on the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover, but while they are useful, they can be temperamental.

The 2008 Land Rover Range Rover comes in two trims, differentiated by the engine. The standard Land Rover Range Rover is the HSE, while the other Land Rover 2008 trim is the Supercharged. Neither should be confused with the Range Rover Sport, which is actually an entirely different model.

"Luxuries like heated leather front and rear seats and a navigation system" are standard on the Range Rover 2008, according to Cars.com. Cooled front seats and 20-inch wheels are options, as well as a dual-screen DVD entertainment system for rear seat occupants.

For all the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover's available gadgetry, none of it seemed particularly user-friendly. AutoWeek reports that the Land Rover Range Rover's touch screen, while sophisticated in its combination with the hard button interface, "doesn't do anything quite completely or easily."

Edmunds comments that the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover's "controls are very button-heavy...and in fine British tradition, ergonomics can be a tad befuddling." Although the Land Rover Range Rover's dashboard is described as "automotive art" by Kelley Blue Book, ConsumerGuide calls the gauges "small and hard to read in certain light conditions." This source also noticed that while the steering wheel could be tilted upward even when the engine was not running in order to facilitate ingress and egress, the wheel on their test model would fall back into driving position on occasion.

Cars.com reports that audiophiles can rejoice: entertainment options "include Sirius Satellite Radio and a rear-seat six-DVD changer" to go with twin flat-screen monitors in the front-seat headrests.

The Range Rover 2008, Cars.com reports, also offers adaptive cruise control. The optional system maintains a preset distance between the vehicle and anything moving ahead of it through radar.

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Performance 8
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