2014 Land Rover Range Rover
The alpha and the omega of sport utility vehicles.No Comments
It goes beyond the traditional definitions of luxury and utility at the same time, without compromise to either.
A hipster walked past me as I was sitting at a Chicago stoplight in the 2014 Land Rover Range Rover. He stopped in front of the hood, looked at the turn signal, laughed to his friends, and proceeded to look right at me.
I roll down my window. 'Yeah?'
'Your headlight's out,' the hipster said, smug-ass smirk across his face. He was referring to the LED daytime running light.
'Actually, the daytime running light shuts off when the turn signal is activated. It helps increase the visibility of the turn signal, and...'
He was already uninterested and walking away by the time I finished an explanation so long-winded that James May would approve of it. But that single encounter summed up the opinion of most of the people I would drive past. Stupid Range Rover, what an ostentatious conveyance of wealth. It was almost enough to make me despise my fellow man for no other reason. And normally, I have plenty of other reasons to do that.
But then I remembered that I was sitting in a Range Rover, and I don't give a single shit about what everybody else thinks. This is the truest definition of an SUV on the market. It's the SUV that every other one tries to imitate, but can't. It goes beyond the traditional definitions of luxury and utility at the same time, without compromise to either. There's a reason it's so bloody expensive. That's because it's everything you'll ever need out of a vehicle like this.
And we only tested the base model.
With the exception of a small piece of plastic near the front of the front door, everything in this car feels nice to touch. Everything. Even the turn-signal stalk is heavy, which reminds me of my favorite quote from Jurassic Park: 'Is it heavy? Then it's expensive, put it down.'
The rear seats also fold down, so if you're in a pinch, you can move a twin mattress and box spring without having to leave either half of the tailgate open. Like we said before, there are no compromises in utility to cram all that luxury in. Although if you opt for higher trim levels, the rear seats become more complicated and not as versatile.
You'd think that a vehicle this large would be unwieldy to drive - as did I, before I drove it. But it drives like a larger car. Yes, you get a little bit of pitch and roll like you would in any other 5,000-pound vehicle that's sitting more than half a foot off the ground, but its driving characteristics are far more carlike. This is due to all the glass; the windshield is huge, and the blind spots are small. But if you're going off-road ever, that's what you need. Otherwise, that rock you didn't see could be the one that destroys your car.
In the event that you need to go off-road, the Range Rover is prepared. It can ford nearly three feet of water without a problem, thanks to high-mounted intake points under the hood. It has an electronically-activated two-speed transfer case, multiple terrain modes, hill-descent control, automatic speed limiters, and an unbelievably fast height-adjustability switch.
We suggest opting for the 19-speaker Meridian sound system. It's the best aural experience we've had in recent memory, including Lexus's also-brilliant Mark Levinson setup.
And even though it won't suck up water, the Range Rover will certainly suck up your gas budget. Eco-friendly stop-start technology is standard, and it does help, but the restarts are occasionally less than smooth.
On the whole, though, this car is clearly the archetype to which all others aspire. It's more comfortable than a rational person ever needs to be, it's more capable than a rational person ever needs it to be, and it does everything with the slow, impassioned grace of ... alright, I'll stop before I break into sonnets.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Power Output: 340 hp / 332 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 17 city / 23 highway
Base Price: $82,650
As Tested: $89,750 (incl. $895 destination)
Optional Features: Vision Assist Pack (automatic terrain-response adjustment, front fog lights, adaptive xenon headlights with automatic high beams, blind spot monitor, auto-dimming power-folding mirrors, approach lamps, configurable interior mood lighting), Towing Package (trailer hitch with electrical hookups, full-size spare tire), Parking Pack (parallel-parking assist, perpendicular-parking assist, 360-degree parking sensors, assisted parallel and perpendicular parking exit), 825-watt Meridian 19-speaker premium surround sound system, traffic-sign recognition with lane-departure warning, rear-seat entertainment, soft door close, heated wood and leather steering wheel, adaptive cruise control