Last Update: Thursday, December 05, 2013
|MAYNARD'S GARAGE- 2013 Range Rover: Low-Profile Tires, High-Profile Image and Off-Road Ready|
|Written by Mark Maynard|
|Friday, 23 August 2013 02:53|
The 2013 model is only the fourth generation in 42 years and the first redo in 12 years.
The Range Rover has a tough image hill to climb in the U.S. This descendant of safari notoriety handles like a sleek luxury sedan. But it rolls like a privileged brat of high society.
Just because it is handsome, expensive and New York City is the largest metro market, doesn't mean the Range Rover has been sissified.
The re-engineered 2013 model is only the fourth generation in 42 years and this is the first redo in 12 years.
While the exterior styling is familiar, the new model is a complete re-engineering with an all-aluminum body, which saved 700 pounds over its predecessor.
It also is equipped with a computer bank of electronic assist systems, including four-corner air suspension. And an offroad terrain response system that can be set for street, snow, mud, sand or rock crawl -- or just leave it auto mode and let the computer decide the proper approach.
Sold in two 5.0-liter V-8 packages, pricing starts at $83,545. The 510-horsepower, supercharged model is $99,995 and the ultimate autobiography model is $136,000.
The supercharged test truck was $115,140 with options, which included a 19-speaker audio system, rear seat (headrest) DVD screens and headphones and power door closers.
The Vision Assist upgrade, $1,760, added a very revealing surround camera system, blindspot monitor and reverse traffic detection. Leave the parallel parking to the Rover for $650.
With 4,850 pounds to heft, the supercharged V-8 -- with 461 foot-pounds of torque -- vaporizes poundage and fires off a visceral rush of acceleration to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds.
Fuel economy ratings are 13 mpg city, 19 highway and 15 mpg combined. The non-supercharged improves mileage by just 1 mpg in both cycles. An eight-speed automatic rolls through the gears with elegant delivery.
Later in 2013, certain European and Asian markets will have a diesel hybrid powertrain. But it is NOT certified for sale in North America.
Of course, the Range Rover is still engineered to ford rivers and the flood of holiday shoppers at the mall. The new model's wading depth was improved by 7.8-inches to almost three feet (a new air intake system draws air through ducting in the hood).
Ground clearance was increased by about a half inch to nearly a foot at the off-road ride height. Every millimeter matters for off-road approach and departure angles. The bottom side is smooth.
Gradient acceleration control and hill-start assist are quite handy off-road to prevent an inadvertent and unwelcome rollback by holding the brakes a second or two. And to leave no stoneware unturned, the twospeed permanent four-wheel drive has high and low ranges.
While the exterior footprint is about the same there, there is more than 4.6 inches of new back-seat legroom. This is a tasteful pleasure palace for five privileged travelers.
Leather is lavishly applied, covering nearly every interior surface from the seats and instrument panel to the doors and headlining.
Uplevel models get semi aniline leather, which is dyed but still looks and smells like a good ball glove.
The upholstered surfaces have a tailored finish with twinneedle stitching. The sewing work is carefully specified, from the length and direction of the stitching, to the spin, thickness and material of the thread. Even the size and shape of the needle is defined, to ensure the highest quality finish.
The three choices of real wood veneers are from sustainable sources, with the sculpted fitment massaged by "veneer" specialists.
For an SUV that is such a popular piece of personalized jewelry, the Range Rover is built for off-road supremacy. Initial engineering was computer simulation. Then a fleet of test mules covered thousands of miles over 18 months of testing in more than 20 countries with extremes of climate and road surfaces.
There were more than 20,000 physical tests in exercises to prove out deep wading, underfloor vulnerability, winch recovery and towing at maximum vehicle weight.
Then there was the monthlong "king of the sand" durability test in the Middle East desert heat; a 5,000-mile flat-out endurance drive at the Nurburgring in Germany and off-road test cycles at Rover's British proving grounds.
Among the tests were the hapless-motorist accidents -- the Rodeo Drive slalom, which included driving into curbs at speed, ditch drops and sideways curb strikes.
The Range Rover is ridiculous and reassuring, haughty and inviting. For $100,000, this is British redneck, a rich and famous way to roll.
|Last Updated on Friday, 23 August 2013 02:59|