2014 Range Rover

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Date Posted: September 12, 2013
By Zack Spencer

One of the most prestigious SUV's sheds weight for 2014.

It is hard to believe but this new 2014 Range Rover is only the fourth generation of this iconic brand. The first was introduced in 1970 as the ''top of range'' model from land Rover, kind of like the country squire of SUV's. As the years have pasted, Land Rover and Range Rover have morphed from vehicles that were built to mimic the Jeep's used in the second war to flat out luxury status symbols. Yes, this new Range Rover is capable of dashing through rivers or scaling torturous backcountry roads, or no roads at all. But today, the Range Rover is seen as the ultimate statement in terms of wealth and prestige. These are expensive rides, and everyone that sees the new Range Rover will know so too. Starting at $115,000 and climbing to roughly $150,000, the Range Rover is arguably the must-have for the very rich. A Porsche cayenne Turbo might do the trick or a Mercedes G-Wagon but a British Rover is kind of special.

For that kind of money one would expect something very special to look at. There is no question that this new Range Rover is imposing; in fact it is a giant. My kids found that climbing into the back seat was rather high and the doors are big and tall. What I should have done was lowered the air suspension to accommodate my offspring used to a typical crossover design.

Styling is strong but rather subdued. There is no question what this truck is but the smoothed edges and simple headlight cluster don't dazzle the way the older Range Rover or Sport model have in the past. The boxy shape has been modified; even the side windows have a slight taper to them, something learned from the success of the Sport model. The floating roof design helps to visually diminish the overall size of this truck and it helps to a point. The rear cargo area is still a clam design, with a power lift gate and a power tailgate that meet in the middle to secure the back. The size of the cargo space is impressive but reaching the back seat can be a stretch due to the tailgate feature. The front and rear overhangs are still designed with off-roading in mind, the approach and departure angles are design to let the Range Rover enter and exit ditches or gullies without scratching the bodywork.

The body itself is all-aluminum to help shed 317kg of weight in this era of conserving fuel. The advantages are multiplied in the handling department too. The ability to shed such a huge amount from the previous model is a massive achievement and makes this full-sized SUV a worth contender.

Call me jaded but I was expecting to be blown away by the interior of this prestigious model. I wasn't, just impressed with the finish and clean lines--there is little wow factor. I'd say that the Porsche Cayenne interior is the product to beat in terms of making an impression. Get in one, any Cayenne, and your passenger will say wow when looking at the buttons, the layout, the materials. The Range Rover on the other hand is a bit too simple and the dash has a bit of a Ford Explorer influence. Now wait a minute, Ford? It might just be me but the centre screen, heating controls and centre console all look like modified Ford bits. Land Rover and Range Rover have been using Ford steering wheels for too long, this needs to change. Sure, there is gleaming piano finish and better materials on the dials and switches, but my point stands, there isn't much of a wow factor here, the exception being the large screen behind the steering wheel that projects the gauge cluster.

What is impressive, and a huge reason these trucks sell, is the commanding view down the road. This, coupled with the boxy shape makes it so easy to see down the road and impressively easy to maneuver. Parking is a snap because of the large amount of side glass and the front windshield is so big it makes the front passengers feel like they are part of the outside. The rear passengers also have a great perch from which to view the world but my kids found the rear seats too firm. I tried the back seat too and yes; there isn't much cushion back there.

Where this new Range Rover shines is in the vastly improved driving dynamics. With a much lighter body, the 5.0L supercharged V8 can march this big truck to legal speeds at the blink of an eye. This engine is used in other Jaguar/Land Rover designs and the 510hp is fantastic. The 8-speed automatic is very responsive and this along with the lighter body reduces the fuel consumption numbers dramatically. Rated at 16.2L/100km in the city and 10.4L on the highway works out to a 21% and 15% improvement respectively. In real world conditions I was getting 14.3L/100km in all city driving. Considering I had a Land Rover LR4 out last year, using 21.1L/100km, this is a massive improvement. The Range Rover also has an automatic stop and start system that switches the engine off when the vehicle comes to a stop, this must also play a big part in the overall fuel consumption.

My eleven-year-old son made a comment that I thought was rather astute. ''Pop, this truck feels a lot smaller than it looks on the outside''. How true. The handling is much lighter than one would assume and the briskness of the acceleration makes it very easy to place in traffic and the ability to see each corner of the vehicle from the front inspires confidence. Not bad for eleven. To be honest the Land Rover LR4 also provides this commanding, ease of use, design but at a much lower price. The size does become evident under braking and cornering and I was surprised to not see adjustable settings for the air suspension. There is a terrain selector in the centre console to aid the driver in sand, snow and off-road situations but the firmness of the suspension seems preset.

Overall this new Range Rover is a big step forward. The lighter body, improved fuel consumption and refreshed design will appeal to the people who want to be seen in this go-anywhere, but won't vehicle.

This really is a status product. There is no need for the entire off-road attitude; I'd bet none of the buyers would risk their new toy anywhere but soft gravel roads. These are the same people who would consider a Ferrari a great commuter.

The Range Rover recently won the J.D. Power Performance, Execution and Layout study, the first time an SUV has pulled this off. This study is done by surveying current owners of this 2014 truck, so Range Rover must be onto something good.

The Lowdown

Power: 5.0L supercharger V8 with 510hp

Backup: 4-year/80,000km

Sticker price: $114,990-$148,990

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