April 23, 2003
Fresh, bold styling
Convoluted nav system
UPoor fuel mileage
WHILE ITS PEDIGREE MAY confuse some, Land Rover’s hulking Range Rover sport/ute doesn’t leave owners wanting for much. Apart from its confusing stereo/GPS controls, most owners found little about which to complain. We didn’t find many faults either, as the big dog performs beyond expectations for a vehicle of its heft (all 5379 pounds of it). Of course, with a sticker around $72,000, it should perform well—spectacularly, even.
Around town the 73.3-inch-tall box produces surprisingly little wind noise, and even up to freeway speeds the Range Rover remains quiet inside, demonstrating superb isolation from tire, engine and road noise. That’s not to say the Range Rover feels numb; on the contrary, we found the vehicle transmits a good deal of feedback. Best of all, its five-speed automatic shifted as smoothly as any automatic transmission we’ve tested, and it resisted the tendency to hunt for gears.
The Range Rover felt confident over both rough and wet roads, staying firmly planted in the rain and refusing to pound its occupants over the bumps. But it’s on the extremes that the big truck really shines. It feels perfectly stable on flat stretches of freeway, tracking arrow-straight in flawless comfort and quiet, while off-road the luxury/ute proves it’s not too prissy to get its shoes dirty—really dirty. It tackles rocky terrain as well as any vehicle in which we’ve had the privilege of charging through a desert wash.
Similarly, the Range Rover shone at the track. Braking and acceleration times proved superior to most other SUVs we’ve tested, putting the ute more in line with large luxury sedans such as the BMW 745i, at least in straight-line tests.
The Range Rover used only 126 feet to stop from 60 mph, leagues better than the Buick Rendezvous, which, some 1300 pounds lighter than the Range Rover, needed 147 feet. Similarly, the 5123-pound Chevrolet Suburban required 152 feet of stopping distance. The 745i stopped in 123 feet.
Acceleration tests ran likewise. The Range Rover did 0 to 60 mph in 8.75 seconds, with the Rendezvous reaching 60 mph from a stop in a whopping 11.35 seconds, while the similarly powered Suburban, with 3 more horses and a 256-pound weight advantage over the Range Rover, took 8.8 seconds.
As one would guess, however, the Range Rover’s prowess was brought back to earth in the slalom, where the big, boxy ute managed only a best 39.0-mph run through the tightly spaced cones (eight in 490 feet). The smaller (186.5-inch overall length) Rendezvous ran it in 40.4 mph, but the much longer (by two feet) Suburban lumbered through at 38.4 mph. Skidpad numbers didn’t fare much better, topping out at just 0.68 gs.
All that performance, however, comes with a serious gasoline penalty, with the EPA estimating a combined fuel economy of 14.25 mpg. We got close in our real-world test, averaging 13.45 mpg over 1042 miles but paying more than $150 out-of-pocket.
Owners didn’t complain about the Range Rover’s gas-guzzling ways, but they did gripe about the overly confusing navigation system. “I am still learning [how to use] all the electronic GPS gizmos after two months of ownership,” said one owner. “The GPS is more complex than most other factory [units].”
Most owners, however, only had positive things to share about their ownership experience, pointing out the first-class fit-and-finish and dramatic exterior styling as reasons they chose the British marque over similar offerings from Mercedes-Benz and Lincoln. But some owners, confused about the Range Rover’s parentage, insisted it outclassed the likes of BMW, the automaker respon-sible for large portions of the vehicle’s design and engineering, including its 4.4-liter V8 (preceding Ford’s buying Land Rover).
Owners also raved about the Range Rover’s superb ride, handling and power, and some have already ventured off-road, with one saying, “It was a confidence-inspiring event... the off-road ability was equal to or better than our previous 4x4 vehicles: Tahoe, Cherokee and ’65 Land Cruiser.”
Nothing in our time with the Range Rover leads us to disagree.
OFFICAL SPECS AND ROAD-TEST DATA:
Land Rover North America
One Premier Place
Irvine CA 92618
Customer assistance: (800) 346-3493
Internet address: www.landrover.com
Country of origin: United Kingdom
Number of dealers: 147
As tested (includes $665 delivery): $72,045
Owners paid; average: $70,100 to $74,500; $72,321
OPTIONS AS TESTED
Heated accessories package, which includes
heated front and rear seats, heated steering
wheel, integrated ski bag and floor mats
($1,300); bixenon headlights ($750)
OTHER MAJOR OPTIONS
Unibody four-door sport/ute
Wheelbase (in): 113.4
Track (in): 64.1 front,
Length/width/height (in): 195/75.7/73.3
Curb weight/GVWR (lbs): 5379/6724
Fuel (gal): 24.4
Cargo (cu ft): 62.0
Towing (lbs): 7700
Front-longitudinal 4.4-liter/268-cid dohc V8
Horsepower: 282 @ 5400 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 325 @ 3600 rpm
Compression ratio: 10.0:1
Fuel requirement: 91 octane
Final drive ratio: 3.73:1
Front: MacPherson struts with double-
pivot lower arms, computer-controlled
variable-rate air springs, gas-charged
shock absorbers and antiroll bar
Rear: Double wishbone with computer-
controlled variable-rate air springs and
gas-charged shock absorbers
Discs front and rear, ABS,
Goodyear Wrangler HP
0-60 mph: 8.75 sec
0-100 km/h (62.1 mph): 9.56 sec
0-quarter-mile: 16.80 sec @
20-40 mph (first and second gear): 3.0 sec
40-60 mph (second gear): 4.6 sec
60-80 mph (third gear): 6.7 sec
60 mph-0: 126 ft
490-foot slalom: 39.0 mph
(200-foot skidpad): 0.68 g
INTERIOR NOISE (dBA)
Full throttle: 79
Steady 60 mph: 62
EPA combined: 14.25 mpg
AW overall: 13.45 mpg
$36,850 after 36-month lease,
51.15 percent of new vehicle price