Posted Wednesday, Jan. 02, 2013
Perhaps you've never considered tracking wild rhino while getting a massage and savoring a Mozart concerto. But if you did, the 2013 Range Rover will let you do it, and in style, too.
The fourth-generation flagship from Land Rover is astonishing: lighter, better looking, more comfortable and even more uncompromising in performance than before.
The Land Rover company didn't have to make major changes to its hugely successful icon. But it did, creating an all-aluminum suspension and monocoque shell (like an airplane body that supports structural load) that shaves nearly 800 pounds from the previous version. In doing so, Land Rover also earned bragging rights as the world's first SUV to use the technique. The weight savings led directly to performance improvements (more scamper in the scoot) as well as design modifications that invite head-turning second glances.
Even slimmed down, the classic Range Rover-esque slab-sides and skinny pillars are unmistakable. But the lower roofline, tapered body lines, cleaner grille and LED lighting are positively rakish. From the inside, comfort abounds, thanks to plenty of cabin room and enormous heated and cooled semi-aniline leather seats with a massage option. Ahhh.
Technology aficionados will appreciate the easy-to-read dashboard graphics generated by thin-film transistor technology, a gift from Jaguar (both brands are owned by Tata Motors). The usual complement of digital goodies abounds. Options include a gigantic panoramic sunroof, a 1,700-watt Meridian audio system with 29 speakers, surround-view cameras, cooler boxes to keep the Red Bull chilled and a dazzling choice of 37 exterior and 17 interior colors.
Has all this refinement diminished the Range Rover's legendary off-road capability?
That would be a no.
The revised Terrain Response system includes electronic traction and safety controls for tackling hills sure-footedly and traversing 3-foot-deep streams. It even includes safety measures to prevent rollovers. No matter the terrain, the ride is amazingly quiet and handling is responsive and controlled. Other SUVs might survive the challenge of assaulting a nearly perpendicular wall of granite, but none can do so with such panache and grace.
Buyers can choose from two 5.0-liter V8 engines: the normally aspirated 375 horsepower version or the supercharged 510 monster. Either way, the silky new ZF eight-speed automatic transmission slaps power down with assured, almost telepathic, responsiveness.
Whether scaling Kilimanjaro with mountain goat agility or just parading up a country club driveway, the lighter, more powerful 2013 Range Rover has the saucy muscle to stand out in the crowded SUV market as the most refined yet capable of them all.
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