2003 All-Star Large Sport-Utility: Land Rover Range Rover
There have been luxurious sport-utility vehicles before, but the Land Rover Range Rover is the first SUV that represents a true alternative to a luxury sedan. It's not just that the Range Rover wafts down the road or that it rides with aplomb or that it has a beautiful interior. The Range Rover makes the same kind of grand, sweeping statement as a Mercedes-Benz S-class or a Bentley. Honed by BMW, Land Rover's previous master, the Range Rover is as triumphant off-road as you might expect, and its on-road poise is compromised only slightly by the 4.4-liter V-8's limited grunt. Of course, had BMW held on to Land Rover, the Range Rover eventually might have employed a 400-horsepower-plus V-12, which would have made for an even more amazing vehicle. As it is, we likely will savor this Range Rover as the best of its breed, because it's difficult to imagine that Ford's financially troubled Premier Automotive Group has the resources to repeat BMW's feat. It would be nice to be proved wrong, but sharing components with Ford just doesn't have the same ring as commonality with BMW.