2009 Land Rover Range Rover HSE

Now this is what a luxury SUV should be. The Range Rover is fast – especially between 40 and 80 mph – its power delivery is velvety smooth, and its suspension tuning is nearly perfect. It’s amazing how well the Range Rover smooths out rough surfaces and even potholes while still being able to tackle the most extreme off-road tasks. The steering is communicative and nicely weighted without being too heavy at low speeds. The turning radius is also impressive.

The dash is a little busy because many of the controls are oversized, but they are logically arranged and within easy reach of the driver. Being able to adjust the ride height makes parking in structures with low clearances a little less stressful and can also make ingress and egress easier on the vertically challenged (although at five-foot-four, I had no trouble on the standard setting).

After driving this, I’m even more disappointed in the Mercedes-Benz G550 that I drove recently. If I had to choose between them, I wouldn’t give the Benz a second thought. The Range Rover may not feel as unstoppable or as unique as the G-wagen but it’s damn close, and the Rover betters the G in refinement, vehicle dynamics, interior design, and fit and finish. The Rover is a pleasing combination of modern engineering and design and old-school-truck functionality, where the G550 just feels plain old.

Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor

One of the biggest complaints I have with the British automakers is a consistently pathetic navigation interface. Land Rover, Aston Martin, Bentley, and, to a lesser extent, Jaguar are saddled with infotainment systems that really trail most American, German, and Asian infotainment systems. Thankfully the 2010 Land Rovers seem to be upgrading this. I didn’t get a chance to sit inside a new Range Rover at the New York auto show, but the images of the interior show a revised display for the navigation system. That should go a long way to making the interior a nicer place to spend some time.

I don’t really care for the Range Rover. Functionally, it doesn’t seem much different than a Land Rover LR3 (or the new 4) and I much prefer the looks of the Range Rover Sport. All three of these beasts get an upgrade to the new 5.0-liter V-8 that makes 375 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque, thanks to direct injection. I’ve never been blown away with the power of this 4.4-liter V-8, but as Jen Misaros points out, the power delivery is very smooth and the SUV feels very capable.

I can’t wait to sample the revised Land Rover line later this year. The new vehicles are scheduled to hit dealerships in October, and we’ll probably get a chance to drive one shortly before that. Just a bit more power will be nice, and direct injection might even allow a slight increase in fuel economy.

Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor

I can’t help but be taken aback that that this SUV costs more than $78,000 – that’s a lot, even if it is the legendary Range Rover, known for its unrivaled blend of off-road ability and top-grade luxury. Still, that price pales in comparison to the Mercedes-Benz G550, which stickers for more than $100,000, so I suppose that, in some circles at least, the Range Rover might be considered a good deal. At least, if I were a millionaire, that’s probably what I’d think.

For the large chunk of cash you’ll need to unload at the Land Rover dealer, you’ll at least get a solid, capable, luxury SUV. Yes, the power delivery is smooth, but at close to three tons this is a heavy vehicle, so ultimately, it doesn’t feel overly fast. Surely the extra dose of power in the 2010 Range Rover won’t hurt. The interior is pretty nicely put together, with what feels like fine-quality leather and plastics. However, some of the controls seem a little dated. For instance, the seat heater controls are large, clunky dials located at the bottom of the center stack. In fact, they look more like HVAC fan regulators than seat heaters – which might explain why they were hiding in plain sight when I tried to find them. It took me half the drive home before I figured out how to heat my rear end!

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

Having driven the Mercedes-Benz G550 a couple weeks ago, I found the Range Rover offers similar features. For instance, legendary off-road capability, luxurious interior quality, and a sticker price that’ll make you weak in the knees. This Rover rolled in at a whopping $83,375 smackaroos.

I hope Phil is right about Range Rover updating the infotainment system for the 2010 models, as I had a difficult time trying to work ours. Also, for such a large vehicle, I was surprised Range Rover didn’t offer a third row seat.

I found the tight turning radius to be extremely beneficial in the city, helping make u-turns precise and quick. Ease the gas pedal to the floor on an on-ramp, and you’ll find you get up to speed rather quickly thanks to the 4.4-liter V-8. Highway cruising is quiet and pleasant, and the vehicle seems to float over harsh roads.

The Range Rover is a great sport-ute. But for the money, I’d look elsewhere.

Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator

I have had the heady experience of driving Range Rovers all over the world in the most remote locations, including that zig-zag scrap of a path called Black Bear Pass leading down out of the Rocky Mountains and into the town of Telluride, Colorado. Even though I haven’t done this sort of extreme off-road driving in several years, driving Range Rovers will forever mean driving the most capable off-road vehicles known to man. Add the leather, the gorgeous wood, the padded steering wheel, and the big price tag, and I will always say it’s worth it. Because I know what it can really do.

Jean Jennings, President & Editor-in-Chief

The Range Rover is much in the same line as the Mercedes-Benz G550 we recently sampled, but in the inverse. It’s still a posh SUV with legendary off-road credentials, mind you, but while the G-class is old school dashed with a bit of modern sensibility, the Rover comes off as a slick modern appliance, spattered with only patches of antiquity (and by that, I mean the ancient Clarion CD changer mounted in the glovebox).

As such, it’s a bit of a juxtaposition. It feels as chic as an iPhone, yet much of the driving experience–the tall, vertical windscreen, the acres of headroom, the accelerator pedal positioned like that of a transit bus–can be found in the original 1970 model. If there’s a way to maintain a brand’s character over three decades while simultaneously loading state-of-the-art technologies into a vehicle, these blokes have found it. They’re in good company–apart from perhaps Rolls-Royce and possibly Bentley.

The Range Rover is quick, especially once you switch the transmission into sport mode and click the large accelerator into its floored position. You’ll see the speedometer’s needle smoothly arc into dubious speeds, but your body hardly sense the vehicle’s higher velocity. Perhaps Jaguar‘s “grace, space, and pace” mantra has trickled to its sister brand…

Evan McCausland, Web Producer


  • Base price (with destination): $78,525
  • Price as tested: $83,375
  • Options:  
  • Luxury Interior Package $4,850
  • Fuel economy: 12 / 18 / 14 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
  • Engine:  
  • Size: 4.4L V-8
  • Horsepower: 305 @ 5750 rpm
  • Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed electronically controlled automatic
  • Weight: 5698 lb
  • Wheels/Tires: 19 x 8 in, Aluminum Alloy

    • 255/55HR19

It’s worth noting the refreshed RR just debuted at the New York show as this vehicle entered our fleet. PF

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12 City / 18 Hwy

Cargo (Std/Max):

NA / 74.2 cu. ft.