Since its inception in 1970, the Range Rover has been an exceptionally capable, upscale SUV. Redesigned for 2013, the fourth-generation Range Rover boasted the same attributes as the older variants, but in a package that weighed some 700 pounds less than previously. This almost unheard-of amount of weight loss greatly improved on-road handling, performance and fuel economy for the Range Rover without any loss of off-road capability or safety. Its lightweight aluminum structure makes the current Range Rover the best in history. For 2014, Range Rover comes in two lengths.
The big Range Rover sits at the pinnacle of the Land Rover tree, flaunting a level of luxury and performance, on-road and off, that make the large SUV stand squarely above the rest. It's larger, more luxurious and more expensive than the Range Rover Sport, and it has a different, more poised character.
Staying true to the form of the original Range Rover, and following suit with the highly successful third-generation model, this fourth-generation Range Rover boasted tweaks that freshened and modernized, while keeping the car unmistakable. The five-passenger interior is more elegant and luxurious, with leather wrapping every surface, providing an environment that feels serene and comfortable, even during the most demanding off-road conditions.
Most notable of the changes for the 2014 Range Rover is a switch in the base engine: from a 375-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 to a supercharged 3.0-liter V6. Generating 340 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 332 pound-feet of torque at 3500-5500 rpm, the new V6 teams with an 8-speed automatic transmission. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 17/23 mpg City/Highway, versus only 14/20 mpg for the previous V8. Helping to boost fuel efficiency is new Intelligent Stop/Start Technology.
The 510-horsepower supercharged V8 remains in upper models, incorporating a Stop/Start feature. Signature LED headlights are standard on all 2014 Range Rover models. Options have been revised for 2014, with prices reduced for adaptive cruise control with queue assist, and intelligent emergency braking. New standard features for the top-level Autobiography edition include an active rear locking differential and a 29-speaker, 1700-watt Meridian audio system with 3D Surround Sound.
A Lane Departure Warning system is newly optional. Two new enhanced parking aids for 2014 can augment the already-available Parallel Park feature: Parking Exit, to help the driver exist parallel-parking spaces; and Perpendicular Park, which can automatically position the vehicle centrally in a parking space.
Also new for 2014 are the addition of long-wheelbase V8 editions of the Range Rover, along with an Autobiography Black model. Long-wheelbase models add 7.3 inches of legroom for backseat occupants. They can be equipped with either a three-person bench, or individual rear seats with a center console. When equipped with the optional executive seating package, the rear seatbacks recline by 17 degrees (versus 8 degrees in short-wheelbase form). Visually, the LWB versions do not look much different from the standard-length models, unless they are parked together. Driving character seems little affected, also.
Inside the new ultra-luxury Autobiography Black SUV, offered only in long-wheelbase form, are distinct leather and veneers. The rear compartment includes reclining, extending and massage-equipped seats, augmented by custom-crafted comfort and work amenities for the two occupants.
With either engine, performance beats that of the prior Range Rover generation due to the incredible amount of weight shed. That weight loss, coupled with the 8-speed transmission, increases fuel efficiency over the earlier model, as well as drastically improving on road dynamics.
Off-road, the Range Rover is still the benchmark. It handles seemingly impossible obstacles with ease, leaving the driver to bask in the comfort of a luxury SUV. Land Rover's Terrain Response 2 system undoubtedly aids in improved off-roading, too. In all models, the air suspension incorporates Adaptive Dynamics damping,
The Range Rover delivers an incredible breadth of capability along with immense luxury, beautiful design, and agility on normal roads that doesn't feel like a compromise.
When redesigning the iconic Range Rover, one is left with a responsibility to please the core group of loyal customers, many of whom may have varying tastes. For example, some love the Range Rover because of its incredible off-road performance, and they actually do utilize it. Many can't live without its unpretentious, yet luxurious styling, and they couldn't care less that it can climb canyons. Then there are the rappers and their adherents, who savor blacked-out windows to complement their custom 27-inch chromed rims. All they want is a bass jumping stereo and enough visual presence to demonstrate their worth on the block.
Somehow, as the Range Rover has progressed with each generation, all forms of buyers appear to have been immensely happy. This is an SUV that appeals widely because of its ambidextrous nature.
That phenomenon could not be more evident than when you take a look at the exterior styling. For the 2013 transformation into the fourth generation, the idea was to build upon the proven formula. The silhouette has always remained similar, with short front overhangs to avoid scraping over rugged terrain. Then you have the traditional high beltline, gently sloping roof, and a rear bumper that rises higher than the side sills, to aid when mastering tough off-road sections.
The floating roof is still present, but there is a more streamlined demeanor with sculptured corners, rearward angle of the grille, and more acute A-pillar angle.
Modernized light clusters at the front and rear are installed, with specific lighting graphics that use LED light blade technology. The rear lights are stacked, as they were on the previous generation.
The only negative from an aesthetic perspective is the disappearance of the air intake from behind the front wheels. It was moved higher into the hood to improve wading performance in deep water, and in its replacement, three vertical groves run down the front of the door panels. The grooves look out of place and functionless. Despite this, moving the vent to the hood does make sense from a capability standpoint.
Many color options are available and, to be honest, they all look good. Unlike many cars where only one or two specific colors do it justice, and the others simply don't work, you can't go far wrong with the Range Rover, though some of the two-tone combinations can be more polarizing.
Long-wheelbase and standard-length models look very similar.
The interior of the latest Range Rover was simplified with an increase in luxurious materials. This is one of the best cabins we have been in, and worthy of the Range Rover's lofty price tag.
Many interior color options are available. Our personal favorites are the lighter tones, such as the Ebony/Ivory mix. If you can splurge for the Autobiography model, then you are granted the most delicious color combinations and leather roof lining. If you opt for the base model, the standard lighter colorings are almost as nice, and more than sufficient.
The 2014 Range Rover utilizes a number of controls through the 8-inch touchscreen, meaning there are far fewer buttons and dials on the center console than in earlier generations. Such de-cluttering emphasizes the beautiful wood trimmings that are mixed with various brushed aluminum accents.
The touchscreen is intuitive, not overly complicated, and easy to use. So are the climate-control dials and Terrain Response system. The steering wheel is soft to touch, with wood trim and a large center wrapped in supple leather. The digital dials on the dashboard read clearly and look great, which is something that cannot be said for many manufacturers' attempts at digitalization.
In traditional Land Rover fashion, the driver's seat is set high to allow for maximum vision when off-roading. In some Land Rovers, we have found it feels high on the pavement. The seating position in the Range Rover, while high, seems to be a great balance. In fact, during heavy off-road activities, we found it useful to raise the seat height another couple of inches.
In true Range Rover fashion, no matter what surface you drive, comfort is excellent. The seats have a massage function, which sounds delightful, but in practice is kind of annoying. But the many seatback adjustments allow finding the optimum driving position without fuss.
Rear legroom is fantastic, the rear seats can recline, and if you opt for the panoramic roof, the backseat passengers are treated to a journey in lavish luxury. The long-wheelbase models offer significantly more rear-seat room, adding greatly to legroom.
The cargo compartment maintains the Range Rover's traditional split tailgate, but is electrified. Cargo space is excellent, making the Range Rover the perfect vehicle for the wealthy buyer who demands ultimate comfort, combined with off-road capability. With the rear seats up, there is 32.1 cubic feet of cargo space; with the rear seats down, it totals 71.7 cubic feet.
The Range Rover is probably the most capable, and certainly the most comfortable, off-road vehicle on the market. The high price tag does not simply yield a better interior, but the dollars translate to incredible technologies that make the vehicle outperform the most rugged of machines. Acceleration improved by nearly a second following the 2013 redesign due to weight reduction.
With the 340-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 engine, the Range Rover can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, according to Land Rover. While underway, we found there's not much sense of the supercharger's presence. Engine response is somewhat inconsistent. More than most vehicles, reactions depend upon road speed and just how hard you push on the gas pedal.
Acceleration from a standstill is energetic and effective, but from 30-40 mph it is not as brisk. Much of the time, especially when stepping only partially on the pedal, you get a prompt, smooth, seemingly effortless burst of power. But next time, you might experience a relatively long delay to downshift (often by a couple of gears) before you feel the V6's supercharger taking hold for a momentary surge. Some of the apparent shortfall is misleading, though, because a quick glance at the speedometer often reveals that speed is rising faster than it feels. Occasionally, you may hear what appears to be the blower sucking air, but only briefly.
Automatic-transmission shifts with the V6 are occasionally curt at very low speeds. Otherwise, it's not easy to discern changes between any of the upper gears of the 8-speed unit. During our test drive, the Start/Stop feature never activated, likely because the outside temperature was well below freezing. A Land Rover spokesperson said dozens of parameters might keep the Start/Stop from shutting off the engine.
Most often when accelerating, the V6 engine emits a normally refined, vigorous note. Occasionally, however, it sounds quite different, as if the supercharger has taken over. When pressing lightly on the throttle at modest speed, too, an odd sound, like a driveline whir, became noticeable.
All told, these performance imperfections amount to a fair exchange for the V6's markedly improved fuel economy, compared to any Range Rover with a V8.
We find the V8 engine more satisfying. Range Rover Supercharged and Autobiography models come with the 5.0-liter V8 fitted with a supercharger to pump out a whopping 510 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque. Range Rovers with the supercharged V8 can burst from 0 to 60 mph from a standstill in a scant 5.1 seconds.
The performance increase over the previous-generation Range Rover is a benefit of significant weight reduction. And by significant, we mean 700 pounds. By automotive standards, this is a monumental feat, achieved primarily by utilizing almost 100-percent aluminum in the body and components. The aluminum in the current body is 39-percent lighter than the old steel body.
These reductions also dramatically improve the handling of the Range Rover. It feels more agile and more composed, with less body roll (especially in models equipped with the Dynamic Response system). The lengthy suspension travel, far longer than any of its competition, does make the car feel like it floats a little. Shorter travel, with a firmer setup, might be preferable for on-road handling, but that would compromise the off-road performance.
Climbing up to highway speeds or beyond is effortless. The ride is silky smooth, bumps feel non-existent, and road noise is effectively zero.
Fuel economy for the 2014 Range Rover is an EPA-estimated 17/23 mpg City/Highway, or 19 mpg Combined, for the V6 engine. The supercharged models come in at 13/19 mpg City/Highway, 15 mpg Combined.
Ground clearance is 11.6 inches, and approach and departure angles make large boulders seem like driving over a child's play block. Even if it encounters a more prominent boulder, the smooth, sturdy underbody helps protect the important components against damage.
The air suspension significantly enhances off-road performance by introducing an automatic system that varies between two ride heights: Plus 1.6 inches, or Plus 2.95 inches when the off-road setting is selected.
The Range Rover's four-wheel-drive system is one of its best qualities. The heart of the system is a two-speed transfer case that provides permanent 4WD. A low-range option, for heavy off-roading, provides a ratio of 2.93.1, giving a low crawl speed that helps keep speed consistent on heavy descents or challenging surfaces.
Dampers are adaptive, allowing for infinite adjustments to match any given terrain. The Terrain Response system offers five settings: General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand, and Rock Crawl. An automatic setting uses on-board vehicle sensors to analyze the current road surfaces and conditions, and then automatically select the most suitable terrain program.
Each setting optimizes capability and traction by adapting the responses of the engine, transmission, center differential and chassis systems to match the demands. The system will also make recommendations to the driver, such as when to select low-range. For most of our time in the Range Rover, including over some incredibly difficult off-road terrain, we left the setting in auto (General). It was perfectly intuitive, and for most obstacles did not even cross our mind.
Of course, the usual Land Rover goodies like Hill Descent Control and Gradient Release Control are all there, too. No matter how impossible the off-road terrain appeared from behind the wheel, never did the Range Rover falter when we were high in the mountains of southern Utah. And with a wading depth of 35.4 inches, no river was too much, either.
On the highway, the long-wheelbase versions feel little different from the standard-length models.
Having undergone an incredible diet for 2013, the fourth-generation Range Rover performs even better than its highly praised predecessor. With improved fuel-economy numbers for the new V6 base engine, legendary off-road capabilities, and the vast number of technologies it possesses, the 2014 Range Rover carries on the British brand's lofty level of appeal. It has two strong engines, looks sophisticated, and can handle general day-to-day driving in a satisfying manner, all the while exuding a superior level of luxury from behind the wheel. Luxurious long-wheelbase versions add rear-seat legroom with no downside in terms of driving and visual appeal.
Alex Lloyd filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report after his test drive of the Range Rover line in southern Utah.