Life becomes elevated in a Range Rover. Press a button, raise the suspension, and it will take you almost anywhere: up a mountainside, through rivers, or to your winter chalet. Arriving in a Range Rover demonstrates your elevated social status, too. It’s the vehicle you take to your kids’ soccer game or to your private jet. It is the go-anywhere, do-anything, life elevator. It can also be surprisingly frugal.
Land Rover created an entire line of vehicles that share the Range Rover’s iconic shape, but this is the big daddy of the growing family. Well, not quite the biggest daddy because our HSE edition is a short-wheelbase version without executive rear seating, but it’s big daddy enough. While streamlined from the original 1970 version, it’s easy to recognize with its wide grille, flat hood with RANGE ROVER across the front, tall bodysides, and angled rear pillars. Designers skipped running boards, which would just get your pants dirty anyway. Twenty-inch alloys disappear beneath the broadsides; LEDs shine the way. It could be nothing other than a modern Range Rover.
Elevate yourself inside to smell the sweet leather and notice planks of Shadow Walnut veneer. Then, you realize something a little strange. There are just glass panes where the gauges and controls should be. With the exception of multi-function knobs for climate and seat controls, it’s nearly an all glass cockpit. The audio controls are cumbersome, and it’s a pain to disable auto stop/start, but it’s pretty slick.
Getting comfy is easy with heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel, four-zone climate control, and 625 watts of Meridian audio. The steering column, soft close doors, twin-pane panoramic sunroof, liftgate, and tailgate all adjust electrically. Soft ambient interior lighting sets the mood.
Of course, the Range Rover comes with a full suite of crash avoidance technology that includes adaptive cruise, forward collision mitigation, lane keep assist, blind spot warning, and rear cross path detection systems. A 360-degree camera watches all flanks while the semi-autonomous parking system can ease the Rover into parallel and perpendicular spots, then ease it back out again. The head-up display keeps eyes ahead – helpful when mashing the big pedal into deep carpeting.
Harbored beneath the wide flat hood is a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder diesel engine that whisks up 254 horsepower and 443 lb.-ft. of torque–all routed to the electronic four-wheel-drive system through an 8-speed automatic transmission. The engine is so smooth and quiet that you can barely hear it running. The diesel is not the fastest Range Rover, but it is perhaps the most delightful to drive. Fuel economy ratings of 22/28-MPG city/highway are stellar for a vehicle this big and capable.
And, it is every bit as capable as you’d expect from a vehicle flaunting green oval Land Rover badges. That deep diesel torque is divine for off-roading, but the big truck is armed with some other technology to help owners get around their estates – or just to valet stands. The air suspension floats down the highway, but can be raised for extra ground clearance or automatically lowered for entry/exit.
Land Rover’s Terrain Response System allows drivers to optimize the chassis, powertrain, and steering for Dynamic (sport), Eco (saves fuel), and Comfort (best all-around). When hitting hill and dale, keep turning the dial for Grass, Gravel, Snow, Mud, Ruts, or Sand to configure the powertrain for your personal endeavors. The Adaptive Dynamics system includes Hill Launch Assist, Cornering Brake Control, and Roll Stability Control.
Traveling in a Range Rover is sublime. It’s like a Jaguar XJ that can cower a Jeep. It conveys wealth, but there’s nothing overtly ostentatious about it. Given its full repertoire, owners will want for nothing. If the window sticker is no concern, be certain you have arrived. Range Rover starts at $87,350, but came to $108,040 in HSE trim with the diesel engine. Competitors include the Mercedes-Benz GLS, Lincoln Navigator, Audi Q7, Cadillac Escalade, and Bentley Bentayga.
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2018 Range Rover HSE
Five-passenger, AWD SUV
Powertrain: 3.0-liter 6-cyl turbo-diesel, 8-speed automatic transmission
Output: 254hp, 443 lb.-ft. torque
Wheels f/r: 20”/20” alloy
Brakes f/r: disc/disc
Suspension f/r: Elect. Ind/Ind
Must-have features: Luxury, Capability
Fuel economy: 22/28 mpg city/hwy
Assembly: Solihull, UK
Base/as-tested price: $87,350/108,040