The luckiest judges were the ones whose final drive was in the Range Rover Autobiography. After nine hours of exhilaration spikes and adrenaline rushes from thrashing the Ferrari, Audi, Jaguar, and Lamborghini around wine country, they could enter the SUV without bending themselves in half, lean back on seats that are as comfortable and nearly as spacious as sofas, and then seemingly just instruct this magic machine to do the driving.
The Autobiography, a partially custom-order edition of the Range Rover, represents the highest form of luxury off-road motoring. It is a velvet brute that can get over, around, or through just about anything that nature places in front of it. By exchanging its steel body-on-frame build for an all-aluminum monocoque, this latest Range Rover has shed some 700 pounds, enabling it to exhibit sports-car pep from its supercharged 510 hp V-8.
Any Range Rover is elegant, but the Autobiography adds the choice of lush exterior colors (such as Santorini Black and Fuji White), 21- or 22-inch alloy wheels, and an Executive Class package for the rear of the cabin that includes a wine cooler.
Unfortunately for judge Eric Brandt, he experienced the Range Rover before he drove many of the sportier machines. But he made the most of it: “It was like a soft, delicious sorbet that cleanses your palate for the Lamborghini.”
Configuration: All-wheel-drive SUV
Engine: Supercharged 5-liter V-8
Transmission: 8-speed automated manual
Power: 510 hp at 6,000 rpm
Torque: 461 ft lbs at 2,500 rpm
Curb weight: 5,137 pounds
Zero to 60 mph: 5.1 seconds
Top speed: 140 mph
Base price: $136,000