Land Rover Range Rover SUV (2012 - ) Expert review
Read the Land Rover Range Rover 4x4 (2012 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives
- The most capable luxury off-roader on sale
- Better on-road driving dynamics than ever before
- Hugely desirable
- 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
At a glance
While few features make the 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, but the 'hockey stick' graphics that can be colour matched or finished in chrome add an elegant design flourish.
The armchair-style front seats, top-mounted window controls and imperious driving position - which are Range Rover trademarks - are all present and correct. The cabin is enrobed in a mixture of wood and leather and there’s 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. 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.
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, the extended-wheelbase Range Rover solves that problem.
Ride and handling
Thanks to the all-aluminium chassis, the Range Rover feels surprisingly light - well, light for something this big. The 60mm wider track and lower roofline also help the car feel agile through corners, with little body roll. Then there’s the same smooth palpable glide of the tyres you get with a Rolls Royce, which is 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.
Three mainstream engines are available and all use the super-slick eight-speed automatic transmission. None of them will leave you wanting for performance, either, as even the entry-level 3.0-litre V6 diesel will get this car to 62mph in less than 7.4 seconds. If that's not enough, there's the 4.4-litre TDV8, but only footballers will be signing the cheque for the one petrol engine on offer, the faintly ridiculous 5.0-litre V8 Supercharged unit.
The Range Rover will never be a cheap car to run. The V6 diesel may emit just 182g/km of CO2 and be capable of a very un-Range-Rover like 40.9mpg (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 hybrid manages an even more impressive 45.6mpg, but its even-higher list price makes it less attractive.
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.
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.
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.