The Range Rover was substantially re-engineered for the 2010 model year, with a new engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, a more luxurious interior, and redesigned instrumentation.
For 2011, Range Rover has been upgraded with Hill Start Assist and Gradient Acceleration Control, two new features added to enhance the sophisticated electronic Terrain Response system. Also, the 2011 Range Rover gets a new grille design and the addition of functional side vents. Power reclining rear seats and a 1200-watt harman/kardon sound system are new options available on 2011 Range Rover models.
Also new for 2011 is a supercharged Autobiography Black 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Range Rover.
Range Rover represents the top of the line for Land Rover, the old-line British manufacturer acquired in 2009 by the Indian industrial giant Tata. There are 60 years of development behind today's Land Rovers. The Range Rover is larger and more luxurious than the Range Rover Sport and Land Rover LR4.
The Range Rover's off-road capability is downright astounding, thanks to its exotic electronic all-wheel-drive and sophisticated suspension system, together called Terrain Response. Though seldom called upon to do so, Range Rovers can scramble up rocky mountainsides, cross rivers and traverse mud bogs. Land Rover admits that they over-engineer their SUVs, because they can. It instills owners' confidence in their vehicles and in Land Rover's ability to build the most capable SUVs in the land. Land Rover sales have been booming, with the Range Rover in great demand.
The Range Rover interior is rich and beautiful. There are premium materials everywhere you look and touch. The leather seats are tall and supportive in all the right places, and there is a nearly infinite amount of adjustment. The steering wheel carries buttons galore for cruise control, telephone and audio, two of which are up-down-left-right selectors for display and information functions. All the rotary switches on the instrument panel are hefty, and scalloped so they can be used with gloved hands.
The compact 5.0-liter V8 engine that made its debut in the 2010 Range Rover has been a hit. Designed by Jaguar, this engine replaces the Ford V8 that Ranger Rover had been using. It makes 375 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque, which is plenty for anyone in the real world, and delivers acceleration of 0-60 in 7.2 seconds, impressive for a 5700-pound vehicle. We found the engine beautifully smooth.
But still, Range Rover offers the Supercharged model, which blows 510 horsepower out of the engine and gets to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. We found the performance of the Supercharged Range Rover scintillating. It's an off-road rocket ship, with 460 foot-pounds of torque available for passing or towing.
The Supercharged uses powerful six-piston Brembo brakes, which will slow the truck safely whether braking repeatedly down a curvy mountain road or coming to a straight, quick stop from high speed. Naturally, they're supported by a sophisticated anti-lock brake system that's behind Hill Descent Control and the new Gradient Acceleration Control. Both are features that enhance safety on icy streets, not just off road.
We've found few four-wheel-drive vehicles combine this level of acceleration and braking with a hushed, plush highway ride in a roomy cocoon of high-grade leather and wood. Whether crossing the Gobi Desert at night or parking at Greenwich station for the train into New York on a wintry morning, the Range Rover is at ease.
Range Rover HSE ($78,835); Supercharged ($94,615)
For the 2010 redesign, the hood, grille, fenders, lamps, air intakes, side vents, mirrors, front and rear LED lamps, and bumpers were made sleeker. So we didn't expect more changes in 2011, but the mesh in the grille and vents has been changed for 2011 to something more diamond-shaped and starry, that Range Rover calls a Jupiter pattern.
The Range Rover body is iconic, and needs no description. Its shape is distinctive in the SUV world, boxy and sleek at the same time. Totally classy.
It has the shortest possible front and rear overhangs to maintain its awesome off-road clearances, and its fender flares were widened for 2010, integrated into the steel fenders rather than tacked on.
The Range Rover interior is rich and beautiful. Premium materials are everywhere you look and touch. There's European leather on the headliner, pillars, and door casings. High quality satin black and natural wood trim adds to the sumptuous feel of the interior. The HSE offers Burr Walnut or Cherry wood trim and both are pretty. The Grand Black Lacquer looks impressive when clean, but it quickly shows dirt and we prefer the traditional woods.
A 12-inch Thin Film Transistor screen replaces the usual instrument cluster. This screen displays the tach, speedo and other instruments virtually. The driver is able to move the gauges around on the screen for more convenient off-road operation. It's bright, clear, interesting and versatile.
The front leather seats are tall and supportive in all the right places, and there is a nearly infinite amount of adjustment. The steering wheel carries buttons galore for cruise control, telephone and audio, two of which are up-down-left-right selectors for display and information functions. All the rotary switches on the instrument panel are hefty, and scalloped so they can be used with gloved hands.
The window glass in the rear doors is laminated to enhance the silent running in the back seat. Power reclining of the rear seat, in addition to heating and cooling, is available.
The 720-watt, 14-speaker harman/kardon system that comes standard produces chamber-like sound. 2011 brings an optional 1200-watt 19-speaker system. The available rear seat entertainment system includes a 6 DVD changer, separate screens in the front seatbacks, and headphones.
The Terrain Response system, controlled by a click-wheel on the console, allows the driver to select among six chassis setups, depending on the terrain being traversed. Height control allows the driver to lower the body of the Range Rover for easy entry of passengers or raise it for off-road clearance. A third control allows for locking the center and rear differentials for demanding off-road conditions or icy on-road driving. There is a separate switch for Hill Descent Control, the system that restricts downhill speed to 2 mph on any grade without touching the brakes. In any off-road mode, a set of icons is displayed on the TFT screen showing the front tire steering angle and the locked/unlocked differential positions, so the driver always knows what's what when driving off-road.
Using the height control to lower the Range Rover is a great aid when loading dogs and cargo.
All 2010 Range Rover models use the new and compact 5.0-liter V8 that powers Jaguar sedans, with the latest technology including double overhead cams, 32 valves, variable valve timing, and direct fuel injection.
The Range Rover HSE uses a normally aspirated 375 horsepower version with 375 foot-pounds of torque. It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds, a pace that's more than quick enough for safe passing. The engine sounds wonderful and feels blissfully smooth at full throttle, and is nearly soundless at cruising speeds.
The Range Rover Supercharged takes that engine and adds the latest generation of Eaton supercharger, boosting the power to 510 horsepower and 461 foot-pounds of torque. That's 28 percent more power and 12 percent more torque than the previous 4.2-liter supercharged engine, with 12 percent better fuel economy and cleaner emissions. The acceleration leaps from 0 to 60 in 5.8 seconds, which is hot rod territory, for this SUV weighing nearly three tons.
All models use a ZF 6-speed automatic transmission, which features Normal, Sport and Manual modes. We found it effortless and unrestrained, and it shifts quickly in response to throttle input. There's a two-speed locking transfer case that can be shifted on the fly.
The steering and suspension systems are nearly faultless, as long as you're not trying to treat the big SUV like it's a sports car. Lots of power-steering assist is needed for quick left-right moves at low speeds and off-road, but less is needed as speeds climb. The Range Rover is a tall, heavy vehicle, but it takes extreme maneuvers in stride. It works better to drive it in a stately manner.
We found the ride quality of the Range Rover HSE to be about perfect. The suspension uses electronically controlled air springs and shock absorbers. We found the HSE provided excellent handling and little body roll in corners, especially for a hefty truck that rides this high off the ground and has a high center of gravity. The ride is smooth and the steering response is good, if not sports-car-like. It's a wonderful mix of luxury, silence and serenity.
But it should be. Listen to all the things working for you: Dynamic systems include All-terrain Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Enhanced Understeer Control (EUC), Electronic Rear Brake Boost (ERBB), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), Roll Stability Control (RSC), Hill Descent Control (HDC) and Gradient Release Control (GRC), Hill Start Assist (HSA) and Gradient Acceleration Control (GAC). It's a lot of alphabet soup, but it all works together both to increase capability and to make up for occasional deficiencies in the driving department.
The Terrain Response system has five settings: Highway, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand, and Rock Crawl. All you have to do is look out the windshield, assess the terrain, and select the appropriate setting. The Range Rover will drive accordingly, including setting the suspension height.
We also got to test drive a Range Rover Supercharged model. Just going down the highway, it was delightful. The huge tires are very quiet, and they combine with the electronically controlled air suspension and premium Bilstein Damptronic adaptive damping shock absorbers to deliver an extremely plush luxury-car ride, sampling the roadway 500 times per second and changing shock rates accordingly, each corner acting independently of the other three.
In consideration of its 140-mph top speed, the brakes on the Supercharged are big Brembos, with six-piston calipers in front. We found them extremely powerful, and very progressive and sensitive to conditions. They are a great piece of kit.
The 2011 Range Rover is luxurious, powerful, smooth, classy and extremely safe, with offroad capability that's off the chart and handling that's downright nimble for a 5700-pound truck. It uses a successful new 5.0-liter V8 made by Jaguar, with an excellent 6-speed automatic transmission. The standard Range Rover HSE has plenty of performance. The Supercharged model makes 510 horsepower and blows your mind.
Sam Moses contributed to this report after his test drive of a 2011 Range Rover in Colorado; with Jim McCraw reporting from Eastnor Castle, England.