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

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