Friday, October 27, 2017

Pathological test drives a land yacht

Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography 2016.jpg
The Land Rover Range Rover is like expensive wine. It only tastes good if you exploit it for what it is really meant to be used for.

Most expensive wines come with several flavors to choose from and so does the Range Rover. Standard 3-liter supercharged six-cylinder pumps out 340hp and really isn’t anything to brag about, but it is flexible and doesn’t feel short on puff. The optional 380hp form makes more sense. The 3-liter turbocharged six-cylinder diesel has the lowest output of the range at 254hp but makes up for that with 443lb-ft torque. The diesel engine in this makes no sense whatsoever. Most considering the Range Rover won’t care about running costs because let’s face it you’d consider every other option that’s cheaper. Top of the range 5-liter supercharged eight-cylinder pumps out 510hp and 550hp and both are the best of the best here. Acceleration is so fast that you’d immediately forget that you were in a heavy 4x4 unless you try to turn a corner fast and oh dear you’ll be brought back to reality real quick.

It’s not designed for heavy corners most would say. Tell that to BMW and the X5/X6, Porsche Cayenne. Both seem to defy logic of any SUV with fantastic handling. However, we aren’t talking about BMW or Porsche. We’re talking about Land Rover the almost fully capable land yacht if you wanted to call it one.

The closes to off-road we could do in this beast was maybe more of the light mud and grassy stuff. Yeah, we ourselves thought it was pretty lame but these are the cards we were dealt and well we were going to make the most of it! Our tester car came equipped with the eight-cylinder engine and well it was the most expensive on the lot too. It’s no wonder the Range Rover Sport exists. This 4x4 isn’t cheap and neither is the equipment for the four-wheel-drive. There were so many off-road selections and several ways to get out of sticky situations that it would leave your head spinning. It was indeed a joy to drive around in just the mild stuff and yes it climbed on top of all that was thrown at it. (Of course the light stuff.)

Honestly most buyers won’t even tackle the off-road trails or go anywhere near them. So we decided the best thing to do is to drive it like how 99% of most buyers will and that’s around suburbia and in heavy traffic jams. I can honestly see where the diesel would be more appealing because a 5-liter eight-cylinder in stop/start traffic is like driving a Bugatti Veyron at speeds below 20mph. It’s meant to be driven fast and to its full potential and you can’t achieve that with grandma in the fast lane doing 15 below the speed limit and the mom on her cell phone yelling at the kids in the backseat to quiet down. You’ll be annoyed but the seats are superb and the overall visibility is outstanding despite it being so tall and wide. It does often feel top heavy but let’s face it, even we have limits and trying to push this heavy thing to its limits is well not something we are interested in embarking.

The stop/start technology isn’t all that refined and it does leave a lot to be desired. Most will just immediately shut it off every time they turn on their vehicles, but it does save gas though!

Steering feedback is pretty good for a 4x4 and handling is more secure and borderline athletic. It’s not BMW or Porsche but it’s decent.

The interior is what matters the most to us because you spend all most all of your time there. Yes this 4x4 has the most luxurious interior you can possibly ask for. The materials used feel soft and luxurious and it doesn’t disappoint one bit. There’s decent space for everyone to get comfortable and I don’t really see how anyone couldn’t love British Luxury, it’s so understated sort of like Scandinavian Luxury (ala Volvo). We did however run into a lot of electrical issues and many of them were just plain annoying. The infotainment screen decided to basically reboot itself while we were using the navigation to find our destination. It took about 15 minutes to restart and when it finally did the navigation system suddenly couldn’t find our destination after the reboot. The auto high beam headlights often got confused by everything from street lights, the reflectors on the road and lightly shaded areas the high beams insisted that they need to be activated. The parking sensors completely failed after a rain storm. These issues were addressed with Land Rover and they did fix the problems after we returned the vehicle.

The base Range Rover comes with Autonomous Emergency Braking, 19-inch alloy wheels and a 13-speaker 380watt sound system. HSE comes with sliding panoramic sunroof with power blind, 14-way power front seats with memory setting, heated rear seats and auto-dimming exterior mirrors with power-fold feature. Supercharged trim adds 21-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights and All-Terrain Progress Control.

The Range Rover is one of those 4x4s you’ll either love or loathe. Most will loathe it because the reliability issues and of course the high starting price. But for those who can make it rain of course won’t mind the high starting price and the steep running costs, it’s the luxury that matters the most and yes the Range Rover can and will deliver.

Likes: The Range Rover is excellent on-road and off-road, a feat that’s just plain impossible to achieve. It has a presence that is hard to ignore. British Luxury is so much better than the Germans. Eight-cylinder engines are so quick you’ll forget that this beast is a heavy one.

Dislikes: Electrical issues cause worry in reliability long-term. Running costs aren’t cheap.

Devon’s pick: The 3-liter turbo-diesel should make the most sense but it doesn't. If you have the money to buy and run a Range Rover chances are you don't care about running costs and the 5-liter supercharged eight-cylinders are the way to go, and you won't regret it! 

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