2010 Land Rover Range Rover HSE

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

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