I have long loved Range Rovers-for three decades, to be exact. Range Rovers have taken me over some of the world’s harshest terrain: Along the Continental Divide. Down the three-point cliff-crumbling turns of Black Bear Pass above Telluride, Colorado. Through the Belizean rain forest and the stark Little Karoo desert of South Africa. I trained with the American team and several European teams for the grueling Camel Trophy, the year it passed through Madagascar. The Range Rover is unquestionably the toughest off-road companion I have ever known.
Just so we all understand those bonfides. Because when you climb up into this exquisitely outfitted pleasure palace, the last thing on your mind will be the possibility of wrapping a winch cable around your waist and crawling
hand-over-hand up some vine-covered cliff to find a tree strong enough to winch your $92,000 4X4 up after you.
Those years are behind me anyway. Instead, I’m fumbling for the heated steering wheel button before I even clinch the seat belt on this sub-30 degree morning. Twisting up the seat heater dial on the dash. Delighting in the rational re-positioning of the seat controls to the upper door panel from some fumbly place under the thigh. Fondling the leather covered dash where it crosses the gorgeous wooden uprights that bracket the beautiful center console and nav screen.
The other notable delight is the very clean instrument panel, which shows only what you need to know. The speedometer lights number just below and beyond your speed and the tach does the same for revs, both pointed out clearly with crisp, glowing LCD light. Fat LCD needles tick in tiny increments up and down the round gauges. Date, time and outside temp are stamped cleanly along the bottom of the screen. Setting the cruise control fires up a green ascending dot that affixes to the exact speed requested. So entertaining and modern. Thank you, Gerry McGovern.
The seats are fab for all five passengers, with thick leather upholstery. Cargo space is adequate, nothing special, but Range Rover’s curb weight is particularly eye-raising.
The powertrain, however IS a thing of beauty, never mind its ghastly fuel economy numbers. Exactly what you need to power through your personal landscape hell.
Jean Jennings, President & Editor-in-Chief
I know it’s not fashionable to like big, heavy, gas-guzzling SUVs, but, oh, was I smitten by this Range Rover. Our test car is very dark brown, almost black, with a brown and cream interior that is absolutely gorgeous. You open the door, and you’re overwhelmed by these brown leather seats with thick, cream-colored piping: absolutely scrumptious. It also has thickly woven brown carpeting, a brown stitched-leather upper dash over a cream-colored main section, and black and chrome accents. It’s just a stunning interior environment.
The Range Rover, which was revamped for 2010, doesn’t just look great, it also drives really well. It has a remarkable feeling of solidity and refinement. It rides beautifully, which makes me wonder if the Jaguar engineers had a hand in the chassis tuning. The new, 375-hp version of the Jaguar-sourced V-8 is all the power this vehicle needs, so the 510-hp supercharged version of this engine that is also available must be something else.
The center instrument cluster is a plasma-type display; when the vehicle is in Park, it displays a sky with clouds and such. When the vehicle is moving, it displays a tachometer and a speedometer whose numbers gradually light up as both revs and speed rise; only the numbers that have been reached are displayed; the rest are grayed out. Very cool.
The steering, although a bit light, is still a revelation for a big SUV, as it’s very precise and very communicative. There are a number of sophisticated camera systems for viewing various exterior angles of the car, including the views to the front and side, to aid the driver when he’s pulling out of a parking space, say, or out of an alley into traffic. Unfortunately, I could not manage to get the plain-old rearview camera to work at all, so I had to rely on the old-fashioned method of backing up: turning my head and looking through the rear hatch. Speaking of which, I was surprised that, when I hit the button on the center console that releases the rear hatch door, it only unlocked it; it didn’t rise up on its own.
The touch-screen navigation system is the latest derivation of the Jaguar/Land Rover system, and it works quite well and is intuitive. All of the secondary controls are very handsome; many are ringed with chrome.
There’s no question that the Range Rover is a vehicle that’s a bit over the top, but it’s extraordinarily appealing nonetheless.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
The deep brown leather is stunning! The color looks beautifully organic and rich, and the cream leather on the dash and seats is a lovely accent. The upgraded leather-also found on the door pulls-is actually relatively inexpensive. It’s part of the $4950 luxury interior package that also includes, cooled, 12-way powered front seats (heated seats, front and rear, come standard), twenty-inch wheels, and auto-dimming sideview mirrors, among other things. Don’t worry, the rear seat passengers aren’t neglected: they get the same leather and supremely comfortable seats and plenty of space to stretch out as foot- and legroom is significant.
Like its main competitor, the Mercedes-Benz G-wagen, the Range Rover feels so solid and practically indestructible. But where the G-wagen feels industrial, the Range Rover feels regal and refined. Although there is some wind noise at highway speeds, the cabin is remarkably isolated from the outside world. The infotainment system is more attractive and user friendly than the system it replaces, plus Jaguar/Land Rover addressed the systems’ most glaring weakness by improving its response time.
Like Joe DeMatio, I also couldn’t get the rearview camera to work. This would normally be just a minor inconvenience but the rear seat headrests significantly impede rearward visibility making reversing this big, tall vehicle a bit of a challenge. The smaller center headrest can be moved out of the way as it’s connected to the flip-down arm rest/cupholder, but, unfortunately, the massive outboard headrests are fixed and can only be moved by flipping down the entire rear seat.
Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor
On pavement, this Range Rover does everything with a minimal effort. The engine hustles all 5700 pounds without straining. Bumps are absorbed as effectively as in a luxury sedan, but the ride is never floaty and the tall SUV feels very comfortable in turns.
The digital gauges are neat, but I was a bit disappointed by the rudimentary execution. With a blank slate at hand, I figured the designers might deliver some artful style in lovely hue. Instead, the digital dials are about as simple as it gets, using grays, white, and black, and looking like the graphics from a Windows 95 computer. That’s a relatively minor complaint, but it seems like a wonderful opportunity to complement the beautiful cabin that Land Rover turned down.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
2010 Range Rover HSE
Base price (with destination): $79,275
Price as tested: $92,655
Integral class III trailer hitch
Electronic brakeforce distribution
All-terrain dynamic stability control
Hill descent control
Emergency brake assist
Air suspension with automatic load leveling
Front, head, and side curtain airbags
Front and rear foglamps
Heated front windshield
Rain sensing wipers
Xenon headlights with power washers
Front and rear parking sensors
Tire pressure monitoring system
Keyless entry with push button start
Triple-zone automatic climate control
Heated steering wheel
Heated front seats
Heated door mirrors with power folding
Auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink
Heated rear seats
Navigation system with off-road functionality
720-watt, 14-speaker Harmon Kardon surround sound system
Voice control for navigation, audio, and phone
Auxiliary audio input
Options on this vehicle:
Adaptive cruise control – $2000
HD radio – $350
Luxury interior package – $4950
-12-way power adjustable front seats
-Upgraded leather on seats, door pulls, and console
-Heated and cooled front seats
-20 in. aluminum alloy wheels
-Auto-dimming sideview mirrors
-Adaptive front lighting system
Rear seat entertainment system – $2500
Vision assist package – $1280
-Blind spot monitoring system
-Automatic high beams
4-zone climate control – $1000
Adaptive dynamics with rear differential lock – $1300
Key options not on vehicle:
Wood steering wheel and shift knob – $1000
1200-watt audio system – $1350
Reclining rear seats – $1250
12 / 18 / 14 mpg
Size: 5.0L V-8
Horsepower: 375 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 375 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
Weight: 5697 lbs
20 in. aluminum alloy wheels
255/50 all-season tires