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Land Rover Range Rover 4×4 (2012 – ) expert review

By Jon Quirk, 29th October 2012

The verdict

The Range Rover is an automotive icon that invented the luxury 4x4 sector. This all-new, fourth generation Range Rover is the first version to benefit from an all-aluminium chassis and the most sophisticated, automatic Terrain Response system. It is now more luxurious and more capable, both on and off-road, than ever before. It is the Range Rover re-invented.

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Expert rating:

4.1

Pros

  • The most capable luxury off-roader on sale
  • Better on-road driving dynamics than ever before
  • Hugely desirable

Cons

  • Expensive, especially amongst the competition
  • Some interior details lack the sparkle expected at this level
  • Its size may prove problematic in the supermarket car park

Full Review

1. Exterior

While few features make the new Range Rover instantly recognisable, it is important to acknowledge the designers have approached the time-tested silhouette with sensitivity and intelligence, not bells and whistles. In the metal, the car immediately impresses you with its scale, size and grandeur. The vertical details in the door help reduce the visual impression of length (the car is a millimetre under 5m) but the hockey stick graphics that can be colour matched or finished in chrome add an elegant design flourish.

Our rating: 5

2. Interior

The armchair-style front seats, top-mounted window controls and imperious driving position are all still present and correct. The cabin is enrobed in a mixture of wood and leather and there’s now an eight-inch touchscreen to reduce the baffling panoply of buttons mounted in the centre console.
Must-tick upgrades include the panoramic and retractable glass roof that completely transforms the cabin’s ambience, and the 1700W Meridian ‘Signature Reference’ sound system that offers an aural clarity to everything from Faure to Flo Rida, depending on what floats your boat. Or blows your whistle. Only a few areas disappoint – the wheel-mounted paddles to change gear are made of plastic when you want aluminium, and the fully digital dashboard complete with chunky typography conspires to chip away at that luxury vibe. Small details but important all the same, especially at this price point.

Our rating: 4

3. Practicality

The Range Rover is an automotive leviathan. It is one of the widest production cars on sale, so potential owners will be delighted to hear that it now features automatic parallel parking to save any scuffed bumpers or alloys. In addition to making the car even easier live with, Land Rover’s Terrain Response System now features a fully automatic mode on all V8 models, meaning from inside the cabin, the changes in outside terrain become imperceptible without off-road gauges and an anorak. The boot is bigger and gets a fully electric split-tailgate, which is handy, given the current fashion for SUV sized prams and although there isn’t quite as much rear legroom as a Mercedes S-Class, an extended wheelbase Range Rover is coming.

Our rating: 5

4. Ride and handling

Thanks to the all-aluminium chassis, there’s as much as a 420kg weight saving between the new 3.0-litre V6 diesel and the equivalent, outgoing 4.4-litre TDV8. The 60mm wider track and lower roofline have also helped the car feel more agile through corners, with significantly less body roll. Then there’s the same smooth palpable glide of the tyres you get with a Rolls Royce and that’s no surprise as the Rolls Royce Ghost was one of the cars Land Rover benchmarked this car against. Only a few brittle sections of asphalt taken at lower speeds unsettle the car’s overall stable demeanor.

Our rating: 4

5. Performance

Three engines will be available from launch and all will inherit a new, super-slick eight-speed automatic transmission. The entry-level, high-efficiency 3.0-litre V6 diesel develops 254bhp and hits 62mph in 7.9 seconds. Next up is the gruntier and more popular 334bhp 4.4-litre TDV8 that develops a barge-tugging 517lb ft of torque, and ensures a 0-62mph time of 6.5secs, while footballers will still be signing the cheque for the faintly ridiculous 503bhp, 5.0-litre V8 Supercharged petrol.

The Range Rover has always been the best in its class off-road but should you need to ford a river en route to Tesco, this car benefits from 20mm more ground clearance (pushing it to 303mm) and a 900mm wading depth – that’s twice the wading capability of a Land Rover Defender.

Our rating: 3

6. Running costs

The Range Rover will never be a cheap car to run. The V6 diesel may emit just 196g/km of CO2 and be capable of a very un-Range-Rover like 37.7mpg (engine stop-start is standard on the V6) but the base price is pretty staggering, especially when positioned alongside the equivalent Porsche Cayenne or Audi Q7. The TDV8 has an average fuel consumption figure of 32.5mpg.

Our rating: 2

7. Reliability

While Owner Review feedback is largely positive, past reliability records of previous Range Rover models should make you cautious. The car has 9km of waterproofed wiring weighing 75kg, and while the stuff worked brilliantly during our tenure, you can’t help thinking it sounds like an awful lot to go wrong.

Our rating: 3

8. Safety

The multiple modes of Terrain Response combined with hill descent manage every terrain you can throw at this car, but for the road there’s also blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and trailer stability control to help prevent fish tailing. Further endorsement of the car’s abilities came with a five-star rating from Euro NCAP in its crash tests: it performed very well in the frontal and side impact tests, although there was only marginal protection of the chest in the side pole test.

Our rating: 5

9. Equipment

Vogue standard equipment consists of automatic wipers, tailgate and parking, Terrain Response, Bluetooth, DAB radio, digital TV and sat nav. Vogue SE adds Adaptive Cruise Control, automatic headlamps, Terrain Response with auto mode, dual view screen, soft door close and electric rear seats. However, top spec Autobiography throws in a heated steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, 21-inch or 22-inch alloys. Top brass will also love the optional Executive Class rear seating, which sets up the rear bench for two chairs that recline, heat, cool and massage and installs a centre console cooler compartment.

Our rating: 4

10. Why buy?

Icon isn’t a term you can throw out to every car, but not every car is a Range Rover.

Our rating: 5

Expert review 4.1stars

  • Exterior5
  • Interior4
  • Practicality5
  • Ride and handling4
  • Performance4
  • Running costs2
  • Reliability3
  • Safety5
  • Equipment4
  • Why buy?5

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:

Range Rover 3.0 TDV6

We use the word ‘budget’ loosely…

Best-seller:

Range Rover TDV8 Autobiography

Grunt and go-anywhere ability

Blow the budget:

Range Rover 5.0 V8 Supercharged Autobiography

Footballer pricetag and you’ll need a footballer’s salary to run it

In the metal, the car immediately impresses you with its scale, size and grandeur