When the Tata Group took Land Rover off Ford’s hands back in 2008, the future for the venerable British automaker seemed a little murky. Fuel prices were on the rise and sales of serious sport-utility vehicles were softening. But the marque hung tough, and under the generous guidance of the Indian conglomerate and its Land Rover–loving chairman, Ratan Tata, it rolled out one dramatic upgrade to its model lineup after another. The 2013 Land Rover Range Rover is the latest—and arguably the most impressive.
It is a new, dramatic improvement from bumper to bumper, but the biggest news is likely what’s missing: weight. With its highly advanced aluminum structure, the new Range Rover is some 700 pounds lighter than the outgoing model. And the benefits are manifold, including improved fuel economy, on-road handling, and, of course, off-road prowess. The standard Range Rover and the up-level HSE model make use of Land Rover’s superb 5.0-liter normally aspirated V-8 engine, rated at 375 hp; the Supercharged and top-drawer Autobiography models use a forced-induction version of the engine that is good for a rollicking 510 hp. Both engines are matched to a quick-witted new 8-speed automatic transmission.
The new Range Rover is supremely confident both on-road and off, thanks in no small part to the next generation of Land Rover’s masterful Terrain Response System. An array of pictograms surrounds a rotary knob on the center console, indicating modes for grass, snow, mud, sand, gravel and even rocks. When the winter sky drops its worst, for example, a turn of the knob to the snowflake icon prompts the computer to evaluate the unique demands of winter-weather driving and tailor the workings of the throttle, gearbox, center differential, height-adjustable air-spring suspension, and stability-control system accordingly.
Inside, the vehicle is notably more accommodating than the outgoing model—rear-seat legroom, for instance, is up an impressive 4.7 inches. As ever, Land Rover’s flagship is as much about opulence as outright capability, and the interior swaddles its occupants in yards of finely stitched hide and offers an array of hedonistic delights, including a pair of audio options from Meridian: a 19-speaker, 825-watt system ($1,850) for base, HSE, and Supercharged models, and a dazzling 29-speaker, 1,700-watt system ($4,450) for the Autobiography model. The Autobiography model, identified by its bright chrome grille, huge panoramic roof, and 21-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, offers buyers a fairly limitless array of color and trim combinations, including an additional 22 exterior and interior paint colors.
The 2013 Land Rover Range Rover is available now in standard, HSE, and Supercharged models ($83,500, $88,500, and $99,950, respectively). The Autobiography edition commands a cool $130,950. (landroverusa.com)