This is the latest in our new series of short-take reviews on cars and trucks, in which we concentrate on a powertrain or trim level not previously covered. –Ed.
Think of the Land Rover Range Rover as Britain's answer to the Mercedes-Benz S-class. Unlike the Range Rover, an S-class can't ford three feet of water, but celebrities, athletes, and the wealthy use both vehicles as status symbols. Small wonder, then, that Land Rover wants to expand the Range Rover's appeal by adding a longer, more spacious version for those who would rather have someone else do the driving. Add the Autobiography package to the Range Rover Long Wheelbase body, and you’ll enjoy a private-jet experience on road, mud, or any other surface a Range Rover can tackle. (The “base” LWB Rangie starts at $107,090.)
From the front seat, the Autobiography Long Wheelbase version feels just like any other Land Rover Range Rover: commanding seating position, strong supercharged V-8, well-weighted steering, lovely fully digital instrument cluster. But to drive this Range Rover is to miss the point, as the real joy comes from riding in back.
Open the 51-inch-long rear doors and climb into the sumptuous, power-reclining, tan-leather-trimmed seats. You can stretch out as if you were flying in business class. Then choose whether to have the seat heat, cool, or even massage your back. Because this model is 7.9 inches longer than a standard Range Rover, there's enough rear legroom for an NBA player, and buttons on the center console allow you to move the front passenger seat forward for even more space. Open one cubby to find a small compartment that can chill cans of Coke; in another is the remote for the twin rear 10.2-inch video screens. Passengers can also use that remote to control the 1700-watt Meridian Signature Reference surround-sound system. The volume goes past 11 and directly to "eardrum-busting," but what is most impressive is the level of clarity and detail from all 29 speakers.
The addition of a plush, lavish back seat is not without its compromises. The long-wheelbase Land Rover Range Rover accelerates more slowly, drinks more premium unleaded, is tougher to maneuver around town (don't scrape those $2100 wheels!), and is less suited to real off-road use than the standard model. For impressing dignitaries, actors, or the chairman of the board, though, it is worth every penny.
2014 Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography Long Wheelbase
|Price as tested||$151,695|
|Engine||5.0L supercharged V-8|
|Cargo capacity (seats up/folded):||32.1/82.8 cubic feet|
|Fuel economy||14/19 mpg (city/highway)|