The Range Rover has been redesigned and re-engineered for 2010. The Range Rover represents the top of the line for Land Rover, the old-line British manufacturer newly acquired by Indian industrial giant Tata.
The Range Rover can go wherever you need to go thanks to its complex but capable all-wheel-drive system, short front and rear body overhangs, and tons of ground clearance. Today's model is based on 60 years of continuous development.
Recent versions had BMW engines, and more recent versions had old Jaguar engines. That last shortcoming has been addressed with the adoption of a new 5.0-liter V8 engine from the Jaguar side of the new Tata Motors family. And inside, recent versions had an almost bewildering array of switches and controls for its various drive systems cluttering up a plasticky black instrument panel, and that has been addressed in the all-new 2010 Range Rover.
While all of the design and engineering modifications for the Range Rover were done under the auspices and with the cooperation of Ford Motor Company when it owned Land Rover, the new 2010 Range Rover from Tata stands out among a small group of luxury SUVs like the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, Audi Q7, and the Lexus LX 470 as a paragon of luxury and performance.
The exterior design of the Range Rover has been modernized and cleaned up front and rear with no loss of identity. The powertrains have been upgraded with the new Jaguar direct-injection V8 engines. The chassis, already among the most capable in the world, has even more electronic capabilities added to its Terrain Response system. Most of all, the interior has been dragged into the 21st century with a much better layout, a unique instrument panel presentation, a more pleasing design, and top-grade materials.
The new 2010 Range Rover interior is as beautiful as it is complex. There are new, more premium materials everywhere you look and touch. The seats are huge, thick, and very supportive in all the right places, and there is plenty of adjustment latitude in the seats and steering wheel. The steering wheel alone carries 10 buttons for cruise control, telephone and audio, two of which are up-down-left-right selectors for display and information functions. Not as many buttons as on a Formula One steering wheel, but close. All of the rotary switches are hefty, and scalloped so they can be used with gloved hands.
If there is one thing that stands out as brand new on the 2010 Range Rover, it is its absolutely scintillating performance. With more than 500 horsepower on tap, and a quick-shifting automatic transmission, the new Range Rover, even at 5900 pounds, is something of an off-road rocket ship in terms of acceleration, and more than 460 foot-pounds of torque are always available for passing situations. Its newly upgraded Brembo brakes are equally powerful, whether easing down a long off-road slope or bringing the truck down in a straight, safe stop from extralegal highway speeds. They are accompanied by a sophisticated anti-lock brake system (ABS).
There are few four-wheel-drive vehicles that combine this level of acceleration and braking performance with a hushed, plush highway ride in a roomy cocoon of high-grade leather and wood. Whether crossing the Gobi Desert at night or just parking the Greenwich station for the train ride into New York on a wintry morning, the new Range Rover looks the part, and that's not easy to pull off.
Careful examination of the 2010 Range Rover will reveal that, while it looks exactly like a Range Rover should, the entire front end, hood, grille, fenders, lamps, air intakes, side vents, mirrors, front and rear LED lamps and bumpers, have been made much sleeker and more modern.
The new grille has three bars of perforated aluminum instead of two. Both the side vents and taillamps use triple-stripe LED turn indicators as well. Fender flares are wider, and now integrated into the steel fenders rather than tacked on. The Range Rover has the shortest possible front and rear overhangs to maintain its awesome off-road clearances.
The interior design of the new 2010 Range Rover is a great leap forward over the black plastic utilitarian interiors that were a staple of the brand for years.
To start with, Range Rover has an industry-first 12-inch-wide TFT screen in place of the usual instrument cluster, a screen that displays the tach, speedo and other gauges virtually, and enables the gauges to be moved around on the screen for more convenient off-road operation. It's the brightest, clearest, most interesting and most versatile instrument and information display in the business, and will almost certainly be copied by others soon.
In addition to all the usual controls, 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. New settings are available for sand driving and rock crawling. 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 new 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.
All 2010 Range Rover models are powered by the same 5.0-liter V8 engine, the same engine that powers the new range of Jaguar sedans, with the latest technology including double overhead cams, 32 valves, variable valve timing, and direct fuel injection. The HSE version uses a normally aspirated 375 horsepower version with 375 foot-pounds of torque, 23 percent more power and 16 percent more torque, with about seven percent better fuel economy in European cycle testing and a seven percent improvement in CO2 emissions.
The Range Rover Supercharged is powered by an Eaton-supercharged version of the same engine that offers 510 horsepower and 461 foot-pounds of torque, 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.
All models will use a ZF six-speed automatic transmission, with Supercharged versions getting a Sport shifting mode. Land Rover says the HSE will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds, and the supercharged version will do the same run in a mere 5.9 seconds, mainly due to its low, flat torque curve. Considering the vehicle's weight of nearly 5900 pounds, that's impressive, and we found it feels effortless and unstrained all the while. This truck is quite quick, and the engine sounds wonderful at full throttle, nearly soundless at cruising speeds.
We found the steering and suspension systems nearly faultless, with less and less power assist as speeds climb, and lots of assist for quick left-right moves at low speeds and off-road. This is a tall, heavy vehicle, but it handles extreme maneuvers more like a sedan than an SUV.
Our test Range Rover was the Supercharged version, and 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.
To better handle the newfound power in the engines, the brakes have been upsized and upgraded. In consideration of its 140-mph top speed, the brakes on the Supercharged model use Brembo six-piston calipers. These brakes are extremely powerful, and very progressive and sensitive to conditions, especially when the truck is off-road or driving through water.
The 2010 Range Rover is the latest arrival in the exclusive luxury SUV market segment, from a company that was in business long before Audi and Lexus and Mercedes-Benz ever made their first SUVs, but a company that has been dogged by quality problems even during BMW and Ford ownership and stewardship. The 2010 model is without a doubt the classiest, most luxurious, most capable truck they have ever built, and worthy of your consideration if you're looking for the ultimate SUV. While the Supercharged version is extra fun to drive getting away from stoplights, the HSE version, at just under $80,000 will take you anywhere you want to go, slightly less rapidly.
Jim McCraw filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report after his test drive of the Range Rover near Eastnor Castle, England.