DRIVEN: First Drive: 2010 Land Rover Range Rover

By Phil Floraday - July 14, 2009
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For 2010, the Range Rover gets a variety of upgrades aimed at improving the driving experience: both available engines have an extra dose of horsepower, the interior is even more luxurious, and the level of technology, both inside the cabin and under the skin, is more impressive than ever.
The Look
We'll forgive you if your eyes can't detect the slight changes in appearance from a distance. In addition to a revised grille, LEDs around the headlamps and taillamps, and slightly different side gills with LEDs that function as turn indicators, the fog lights move from the front bumper down to the sides of the air intake. The current Range Rover has aged quite well, so only minor changes seem appropriate.
The Power
For 2010, all Land Rover models get the new direct-injection 5.0-liter V-8. Horsepower is up 75, to 375 hp, and torque is at 375 lb-ft -- both figures represent big upgrades over the aging 4.2-liter V-8, which sometimes struggled to move vehicles as big and heavy as a Land Rover. Supercharged models share the 5.0-liter block but also get an intercooled sixth-generation Eaton blower that pushes power to 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque. The whole supercharger/intercooler assembly fits nicely in the valley of the engine, the revised air intake is more efficient, and supercharger whine has been reduced by more than 50%.
Both engines are mated to a ZF six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The increase in power from the 5.0-liter engines allows the torque converter to lock up earlier, which increases fuel efficiency. An adaptive sport mode provides more aggressive shift points and "learns" an individual driver's style to provide more appropriate responses to throttle inputs.
Off-Road
Half the reason to consider purchasing a Land Rover is its proven off-road prowess. For 2010, the Range Rover receives some significant improvements in this area. Land Rover's Terrain Response system now includes a launch control program for starting the SUV in sand. In this mode, wheel spin is limited, based on the vehicle's speed, to turn power into forward motion rather than digging a trench. Revisions to rock crawling mode and hill descent control also promise an easier time on the trail. Gradient release control is another new feature that prevents the vehicle from gathering speed too quickly once the brakes are released on a steep slope.
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On-Road
To improve the on-road ride of the Range Rover, adaptive dampers are now used. Pressure at each damper is monitored 500 times per second to allow for instantaneous adjustment of the individual damper's firmness. Like the transmission, the damper system "learns" the driver's style, so responses will be more appropriate for a given situation.
Brake upgrades are also part of the 2010 refresh. Non-supercharged models now have 14.2-inch vented discs with four-piston floating calipers in the front and 13.8-inch vented discs with single-piston aluminum floating calipers in the rear. Supercharged models see 15.0-inch vented discs with six-piston monoblock calipers up front and 14.3-inch vented rotors with single-piston floating calipers out back.
Upgrades to the stability control system allow brakes to be applied to individual wheels if the system determines that the vehicle is taking a corner too quickly. A new rollover prevention system uses a similar strategy to rapidly brake individual wheels in an effort to widen the turning radius and keep the SUV on all four tires. The stability control improvements also offer a trailer sway control system: if the vehicle senses dangerous trailer sway, individual wheels are slowed to bring the rig back in line.
Inside
The Range Rover has been at the top of the luxury SUV mountain for a long time, and this year's interior upgrades promise to keep it there for the foreseeable future. If you have any doubt, just look at the optional full-leather interior package and the upgraded "waterfall" interior lighting system.
Drivers will notice an all-new electronic instrument panel with a twelve-inch TFT display. The display can be customized to show specific information between the speedometer and tachometer via a five-way controller mounted on the steering wheel. Everything from outside temperature to wheel articulation can be displayed there.
An upgraded infotainment interface promises more intuitive operations, with many functions able to be controlled by voice commands, and a hard-drive-based navigation system now offers faster route calculation along with better map coverage.
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Technology
Land Rovers have always been full of technology, and the new Range Rover does not disappoint. The most useful technologies are the available blind spot monitoring system and the 360-degree view cameras, similar to those in the considerably smaller Infiniti EX35. In towing assist mode, the camera system even provides guidelines to help determine where the trailer will be while backing up based on several user-entered data points such type of trailer, width, and number of axles.
Other notable electronic assistance systems are adaptive cruise control, emergency brake assistance, and automatic high beam headlamps. The adaptive cruise control system has four settings for following distance that range from 1 to 2.2 seconds of open road between you and the vehicle ahead. The system defaults to 1.8 seconds, which equals about 164 feet at 62 mph. Emergency brake assist uses the same radar as the ACC system and can automatically apply the brakes if a collision is imminent. High beam assist will switch on the brights when the vehicle detects low light levels and then switch back to low beams when traffic approaches.
Perhaps the most important part of all these electrical gadgets is the all-new electrical architecture. The combination of Controller Area Network and Media Oriented Transit System should share data across the vehicle's systems and save weight, with a side benefit of improved reliability, according to Land Rover. We suppose it will take a while to support the claim of a more reliable electrical system, but we hope it's not hyperbole.
The Drive
Once you slip behind the wheel, the 2010 Range Rover's increased power is most impressive. Normally aspirated vehicles are nearly as fast as the outgoing supercharged models and the new supercharged engine is almost frighteningly quick. We've been told to expect 0-to-60-mph sprints in 5.9 seconds and that time doesn't feel optimistic. The shift time has been cut in half when compared with the outgoing six-speed automatic, which also helps with acceleration. When sport mode is dialed in, the shifts are nearly perfect and passing is effortless, even on normally aspirated SUVs.
The predictive dampers were especially impressive during a bout of spirited driving -- the Range Rover is far from a sports car, but it offers remarkably flat cornering and very predictable handling when hustling through back roads that would better suit a Jaguar XF. Throttle tip-in is a bit stiff, but that's more of a characteristic than a problem. We found the variable ratio steering to be quite predictable and it feels surprisingly natural.
In addition to being able to travel the autobahn at speeds up to 140 mph, the Range Rover is quite happy chugging along off-road. The trails we tackled outside Barcelona were quite impressive and the overall experience was rather relaxing and confidence inspiring. If you let the vehicle's Terrain Response System do its job, rather spectacular obstacles can be traversed while you sip a latte or discuss your most recent investments.
When Can I Get One?
The 2010 Land Rover Range Rover will go on sale by the end of July in the U.S. If you're looking to drive one home, be prepared to shell out $79,275 for the normally aspirated HSE model and $95,125 for the Supercharged flavor. Both prices include destination charges, but no options. Land Rover representatives expect sticker prices to range from $80,000 up to nearly $110,000 for a fully loaded Supercharged model with the Autobiography package. Autobiography is the ultimate in luxury and adds features like a full-leather interior and unique 20-inch wheels as part of the $14,500 package.
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Pricing
Base Price, HSE: $79,275
Base Price, Supercharged: $95,125
Overview
Body Style: 5-door SUV
Accommodation: 5-passenger
Construction: Steel unibody
Powertrain
Engine: Naturally aspirated or supercharged 32-valve V-8
Displacement: 5.0 liters
Power: 375 hp / 510 hp (supercharged)
Torque: 375 lb-ft / 461 lb-ft (supercharged)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: Four-wheel
Chassis
Steering: Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Turns lock-to-lock: 3.5
Turning Circle: 39.4 ft
Suspension, Front: MacPherson strut
Suspension, Rear: Double wishbone
Brakes F/R: Power-assisted ventilated disc; ABS
Wheels: 19-inch aluminum/ 20-inch aluminum (supercharged)
Tire Size: 255/55R19, 255/50R20 (supercharged)
Measurements
Headroom F/R: 39.3/38.3 in
Legroom F/R: 38.9/35.5 in
Shoulder Room F/R: 61.4/60 in
Wheelbase: 113.3 in
Track F/R: 64.1/64.0 in
L x W x H: 195.8 x 80.1 x 73.4 in
Cargo Capacity (max): 74.2 cu. ft.
Weight: 5697 lb/ 5891 (supercharged)
Fuel Capacity: 27.6 gal
Towing Capacity: 7716 lbs

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