Riding the Range (Rover): A Luxurious Way to Work

LONG AND LEAN: The stretch version of the Range Rover hides its extended length and retains its iconic styling.
LONG AND LEAN: The stretch version of the Range Rover hides its extended length and retains its iconic styling.
BILL GRIFFITH

The following is about how one driver learned to stop worrying and love a test car that came this way recently.

The vehicle was a 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged LWB (long wheelbase) SUV. That’s a long name for a long vehicle.

This Range Rover has limousine-like space in the rear seat (and cavernous cargo space with those rear seats folded flat). The LWD version is eight inches longer than the standard version and most of that space has been placed at the feet of the rear seat passengers who get 7.3 inches of added legroom.

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Power is provided by a 510-horsepower supercharged 5-liter V-8 which dispersed 461 lb.-ft. of torque to the wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission to full-time all-wheel-drive and four-wheel electronically controlled traction control.

Even though it is loaded with virtually every driver safety technology on the market today—plus Range Rover’s circular terrain-selecting knob—the driver’s controls are logically arranged and pretty much intuitive to operate, even though at first glance the array can be off-putting.

Not that we expect many folks to take this car off-roading, but it certainly has the capability. The company has a tried-and-true terrain management system, one that even has a smart (automatic terrain detection) feature.

A full load doesn’t seem to even test the vehicle. We loaded the back multiple times and never noticed the added weight.

Speaking of weight, Land Rover removed some 700 pounds from the body with the use of aluminum. You can connect the research dots—Ford used to own Land Rover and now is removing the same amount of weight from the new F-150, also through the use of aluminum. Past Range Rovers were a successful test.

The interior is luxurious with perforated white leather upholstery and trimmings, including on the steering wheel. In addition to the extra legroom, rear passengers have reclining and heated seats.

Little touches stand out. If you fail to shut a door firmly, don’t fret. The Range Rover’s soft-close feature silently completes the closing action.

The adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning worked well, and the split rear tailgate (both top and bottom had separate power controls) came in quite handy as we loaded and unloaded it.

Why all the loads? It was moving week in Connecticut. Family members were moving from a very nice neighborhood to an even nicer one, actually a place where the Range Rover with its sticker price of $120,390 could feel right at home.

“Aren’t you scared to drive something that expensive?” a guest asked at a graduation party that weekend.

Well, yes and no. You always feel like a guest in any test vehicle, but you also have to drive it as if it were your own to see how it would work out as a permanent guest in your driveway.

Over the years, after we would review such a high-end vehicle, emails would question why we don’t stick to “affordable” vehicles.

The answer remains three-fold. First, a good portion of the Globe’s circulation is upscale and interested in luxury cars. Second, the latest technology generally gets introduced in the higher-end models, though the trickledown through a manufacturer’s lineup is a lot quicker nowadays. Third, manufacturers usually have test cars loaded with options because they want to get the word out on the latest bells and whistles.

However, when it’s moving week, it’s more about cargo-carrying and the basics. The Range Rover was assigned work duty.

The moving van transported furniture and heavy items like the lawn tractor. However, the accumulated stuff from nearly 15 years of marriage and 13 in the latest home, meant there were many loads to be ferried in a small fleet of SUVs.

Power from the supercharged V-8 is immediate and jaw-dropping in such a big vehicle. There are a few downsides to all this performance, however, with the Range Rover achieving an average of 16 miles per gallon (14 city/19 highway). The accelerator takes some acclimatization if you want to be seen as a smooth operator, which you certainly do in such a status vehicle.

And, should one become nervous driving such a vehicle, both front seats have a massaging function. Quite civilized, the Brits might say.

In fact, it’s clearly the most civilized version since the present Range Rover came to be in 1970. Traditionalists will trace the vehicles’ lineage back to the original post-war 1948 Land Rovers.

2014 Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged LWB

THE BASICS

Price, base/as tested (with destination): $106,195 / $121,390. Fuel economy, EPA estimated: 14 city / 19 highway / 16 combined. Fuel economy, Globe observed: 16.2. Drivetrain: 5.0-liter Supercharged V-8, 8-speed automatic transmission, Permanent all-wheel-drive with Terrain Response system. Body: 5-passenger SUV.

THE SPECIFICS

Horsepower: 510. Torque: 461 lb. ft. Overall length: 204.7 in. Wheelbase: 122.9. Height: 72.3 in. Width: 81.6 in. (also saw 78.1 with mirrors folded, 87.4 with mirrors in place). Curb weight: 5,320 lbs.

THE GOOD

Top-of-the-line luxury, performance, off-road ability.

THE BAD

Duh. It’s expensive.

THE BOTTOM LINE

An iconic vehicle, adding modern reliability to a long heritage.

ALSO CONSIDER

Lexus LX 570, Mercedes-Benz G-Class, Porsche Cayenne.