So posh, so comfortable, and so completely capable on extreme terrain, the flagship 2013 Range Rover makes the phrase “Home On The Range” seem doable.
By Tara Weingarten
The Big Picture
Let’s say right off that I am not an off-roader. I would rather zip around a twisty mountain road in a two-seat sports car than climb boulders in a truck. That said, I am a convert. Range Rover took me and a band of auto writers to the wilds of Grand Staircase National Monument in southern Utah to test out its completely redesigned 2013 Range Rover flagship SUV. We forded streams – it can wade through an astounding three feet of the stuff without a hint of water log – and we scrambled over seriously steep icy boulders, slogged through thick mud and deep ruts, and easily ambled over soft sandy terrain as if it was a day at the beach. And if it was a day at the beach, I’m now certain this very able Range Rover would have plowed right through that sand, too.
The 2013 Range Rover – the fourth generation of this large, five-seat SUV – is so capable off-road, you might forget that it’s a stunner to look at, and equally comfortable to ride in, no matter the terrain.
The 2013 Range Rover is completely redone, though it still retains its Range Roverness. It keeps the unmistakable stately square shape, though gets a bit more angular in its profile, more slender-looking and contemporary. Inside, there are fewer buttons and gadgets for a cleaner display.
The rear tailgate retains the iconic clam shell closure but now, both halves are push-button automatic and can be activated by the key fob as well. So civilized. The bottom half of the tailgate can accommodate up to 600 pounds, so it’s no problem to stand on it to load cargo, or for two people to sit on it while tailgating at the game.
And there are more personalization options with the 2013 Range Rover. Buyers have a choice of 37 exterior paint options, and can even choose a contrasting roof color. Inside, there are 17 different color options. And she can equip the vehicle with her choice of eight styles of wheels (three of those choices are beefy 22″ wheels for better performance at high speeds on the highway.)
An Inside Job
While all the pizazz of chomping though gravel and mud happens outside the car, passengers inside the 2013 Range Rover are kept happily ignorant of the devilish work going on within the guts of the vehicle. Inside, my fellow journos and I happily chatted about the lovely weather while being cradled in soft, perforated heated and cooled leather seats, glancing at the interior glossy wood trim, which was harvested from a sustainable forest.
All the while, our cabin was bathed in warm sunshine from the (optional) over-sized panoramic moon roof. Even backseat riders feel a sense of roominess because of the glass roof and large panes of windows all around. As the Range Rover public relations team likes to tell us, “There’s no bad seat in the house.” And whadaya know, it’s true.
The steering wheel is a joy to behold. The triangle-shaped (yes, it’s actually triangular), leather-wrapped wheel is angled so that it fits squarely and very comfortably in hand. There are soft-rubber buttons and switches throughout the cabin, which is pleasing to touch. Backseats can be angled to recline a bit, for a good nap on those long road trips. And the trim is pretty to look at. My tester came with piano black glossy plastics and lots of brushed aluminum for a modern and clean appearance.
All of this off-road acumen requires serious safety features that deploy should something horrible happen. The 2013 Range Rover is at the ready here, too. The first line of defense is the can-do full-time 4-wheel drive system, which allows the vehicle traction even under the lowest-grip situation. Powerful Brembo-brand brakes (which are among the finest you can buy) keep the Range Rover stopped on super-steep inclines, and gives ample stopping power when rolling along at high speeds.
A radar-based Adaptive Cruise Control automatically speeds up and slows down according to the traffic in front, keeping a safe distance. The Reverse Traffic Detection system uses the car’s radar to alert the driver when an approaching object or car is about to cross the Range Rover’s path while backing up. An optional radar-based Intelligent Emergency Braking system will apply the brakes hard if the vehicle senses an imminent accident and feels the driver isn’t applying enough brake force.
Let’s say you’ll never take the 2013 Range Rover into the rugged wilderness. Most of us never will. But there’s peace of mind knowing that if Armageddon comes, you’re ready.
Aside from Range Rover’s stream fording abilities, this SUV is quite comfortable cruising through the city (eating nasty pot holes as if they’re appetizers) or meandering through a twisty mountain pass, thanks to a capable air suspension system. The Land Rover Dynamic Response system keeps the vehicle’s body lean to a minimum, so that curvy roads seem as if they’re straight. Your backseat riders, or anyone who is prone to car sickness, will love this optional feature.
The 2013 Range Rover is built with new lightweight materials, including an increased amount of aluminum. It is 700 pounds lighter than the outgoing Range Rover model. This attention to reducing weight, along with the new 8-speed automatic transmission, has improved the 2013 Range Rover fuel efficiency. Of course, it still guzzles gas. It is a big SUV with full-time 4-wheel drive, after all.
Gizmos And Tech
The 2013 Range Rover comes standard with a Meridian sound system, a lauded British brand. The top-of-the-line Autobiography edition of the 2013 Range Rover comes with an astounding 20-way adjustable power front seats with five massage settings. If you can’t get comfortable in these babies, you just can’t get comfortable.
The 8″ touch-screen for navigation and audio displays also features DVD playback, and there’s an optional rear-seat video package with twin 8″ screens, infra-red wireless digital headphones and a remote control.
For those living in colder climes, you’ll love the heated front seats and steering wheel, or the optional four-zone climate controls.
The 2013 Range Rover is expensive by most people's standards, but it's easy to see where the money is embedded. With exemplary off-road handling and luxe interior goodies, the Range Rover is good value.
Unparalleled off-road capabilities
Style to make you smile
Cheap feeling glove box fabric