Luxist Drives the 2010 Range Rover, Feeling of Royalty Still Hasn't Worn Off
When the winds of model-year change blew on Land Rover's 2010 lineup, they hit the LR3 at hurricane speeds forceful enough to turn it into the LR4. A shade of velocity lost, they still rocked enough impact to reshape the Range Rover Sport into the faster and highly finessed luxo-beast we'd been pining for since we drove it in 2007.
By the time those gales rushed over the clamshell bonnet of the Range Rover they had slowed considerably, leaving a mild-by-comparison alteration of the top-tier landscape. That doesn't mean it wasn't a potent alteration, though: heightened sensations from innovations like the TFT dashboard and vastly increased motivation from the new Jaguar-derived 5.0-liter V8 helped make the total package a little bit better everywhere. And when you're already standing on the peak, every little bit counts for a lot.
Gallery: Luxist Drives the 2010 Range Rover
The Range Rover is bathed in the unlikely. Conceived as a 4x4 get-about aimed at "senior officers in the army, head guys on building sites, well-off farmers, that sort of person" in the words of the late Spen King, the first Range Rover in 1970 had an interior that was designed to be easy to clean with a hose. A hose. And it cost about the same as a Rover 2000 sedan, just £1998, equal to nearly $4,794 in U.S. currency at the time. By comparison, a 1970 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special Brougham cost $7,284 and was available with 16 different combinations of cloth and leather interiors.
H.G. Wells your way to the current day and Range Rover owns the luxury 4x4 segment and has done so for more than half of its life, partly by virtue of having almost no competition – but only partly. Now the most expensive Cadillac is less dear than an entry-level Range Rover and doesn't offer anything like the options or the luxury. And as for the American vehicles that helped inspire Range Rover's engineers to create the vehicle in the first place, the Jeep Wagoneer, Ford Bronco and International Scout, none of them exist anymore.
The more important reason that it owns the top of the rostrum is this: no other SUV makes you feel as royal as a Range Rover. The original came with an interior wrapped in so much vinyl and rubber it could have doubled as a bondage parlor. The 2010 Range Rover comes with ermine and a purple cape. A scepter can be had as a cost option. As well, you can take its luxury and your cape practically anywhere on the planet, from the La Boheme at the Grand Palais to Black Diamonds in the Grand Massif, without even having to change tires. The splendor and the sludge live together, right here. A Cayenne Turbo is faster, more expensive and slightly more powerful and you can get dirty in it, but in philosophy and execution - and wading depth, for instance - it's not a Range Rover, it's a Porsche, two vastly different things.
To the vehicle, then. This is the final iteration of this third generation - originally designed back when BMW owned the joint - before the fourth in line arrives in 2012. The few exterior changes on the 2010 serve to enhance the jewelry and rationalize a design language shared with the Range Rover Sport. The Sport's outer details come in duplicate, the Range Rover's details in triplicate. A three-bar diamond mesh grille is a slightly wider and deeper than the previous, four-bar matte grille. It is flanked by new headlight clusters that feature twin LED coronas as running lights encircling the smaller projector and high beam, and a three-stripe LED turn signal array at the corners replacing the 2009 model's running-light-and-turn-signal combo. The side vent surrounds are set off by three strakes, and the taillight's twin LED lamps are set into a three-stripe LED turn setup. The sole sheetmetal revision is the front bumper, with a sculpted channel in the center in which the new grille sits and a smoother face due to the fog lights having migrated to the wider lower intake.
Not-so-visible updates outside include the blind-spot monitoring system and optional Surround Camera systems that are appearing on all manner of SUVs these days. The five surround cameras are markedly handy when off-roading, and we'd imagine quite useful for another offered feature we didn't sample, the "reverse tow assist." The same way some reversing cameras will show you your trajectory based on the position of the wheel, this one will show you where your trailer is headed based on how you're backing up. You can even customize it by entering the trailer details, such as how many axles it has. A boon for Range driver shanghaied into towing a jet skier or Airstream. Even more experienced haulers might appreciate the Trailer Stability Assist that detects trailer oscillations and then, a la stability control, alters torque and braking to bring the trailer into line. Another option is high-beam assist, which can automatically illuminate when it senses severely low light levels and automatically extinguish when it senses oncoming traffic.
Optional adaptive cruise control with three settings joins the mix - a necessary offering in this class of vehicle - and if you partake you'll also get the new Advanced Emergency Brake Assist system that primes the system and can start braking if an unavoidable impact is detected. It will be working a reengineered set of clampers: the base HSE gets a 14.2-inch, twin-piston setup in front based on the previous Range Rover Supercharged's four-piston stoppers, with single-piston calipers in back; the new Range Rover Supercharged gets a 15-inch, six-piston monoblock calipers developed with Brembo in the front, single-piston sliding calipers out back.
Within, Dr. Feelgood and one of his supple assistants examined every inch of the interior looking for ways to make it more pleasing to the touch and the eye. The 12.3-inch TFT screen that replaces the analogue dash gauges is the ant's pants. Virtual dials provide a little bit of Lexus LFA theater for a few hundred thousand dollars less. It was crisp, bright and visible in every condition we faced, and over time we expect it will be increasingly customizable. We found it unexpectedly handy off-road, in that we could keep track of whatever adventures the wheels were enduring with a quick glance down instead of having to turn to the center console screen.
Everywhere else is the bee's knees. To our eyes the Range Rover still has one of the finest interiors in any vehicle of any kind, and it's eight years old. The 2010 maintains its first-class status with new leather trim for the greenhouse and recast waterfall lighting. The new steering wheel gets two five-way controllers and more buttons, but they are larger, reshaped, easier to find without looking and easier to reach and operate. The touchscreen menus have been refined. The navigation system works more quickly. The center console dials get a satin chrome finish and textured interior buttons, and their bezels are more decorously integrated into the console panel. The buttons on the lower console are larger, nicer and accented. There are fewer, yet much nicer, buttons on the upper console around the screen. Sweet dreams are made of this.
And if that doesn't move you, the latterly beknighted power of your right foot just might. Finally. True, no one buys a Range Rover because they need to go fast. But every time the Range Rover gets faster it's a wonderful thing. And this incarnation gets a lot more power, big banana split scoops of it, the HSE putting out 375 horsepower and 375 pound-feet from the 5.0-liter, direct-injection V8. That's 70 additional hp and 50 additional lb-ft, taking a second off the 0-to-60 time. In a 5,700-pound SUV that's like making a jump to hyperspace. The Supercharged model with its Eaton twin-vortex unit racks up 510 horses, a bonus of 110 from the 2009 Supercharged, and 461 lb-ft, a bonus of 41 lb-ft. Push it hard and the clock strikes just 5.9 seconds from a standstill to 60 mph, 1.2 seconds clear of its antecedent. Furthermore, they both return the same miles-per-gallon, 12/18, as their less motivated predecessors, and they're both ULEV2 certified.
Under power the Range Rover glides, turns, crawls and fords like a Range Rover - or like you would expect a Range Rover to do if you aren't familiar with the experience: imperiously. The additional power is immediately noticeable and exponentially rewarding the more you need to call on it. There is less hoping to do and fewer questions to ask yourself: can I make that gap, that light, that pass. Once the power window switches were zapped from the center console to the doors, power was the only lingering issue left to ponder.
Another surprise was that we wished for the paddle shifters from the Range Rover Sport Supercharged. In fact it was the younger, zoomier family member that made us wish almost all SUVs had shifters on their tillers. The ZF six-speed transmission is fine for responses, we really liked being able to choose exactly the gear we wanted exactly when we wanted it instead of waiting a fractional second longer for the ZF to choose. A half second, that high up and at that weight, is noticeable.
Although you're not in this to go too fast. Still, if you do, there are a couple of helpers to watch out for you. The Adaptive Dynamics use Damptronic Valve Technology to monitor and adjust settings 500 times a second, maintaining proper body ride and control. The Range hasn't felt floaty for years, but this feature tightens its handling screws just that much more in case you're as sensitive as a feather. A curve-speed minder on the Enhanced Dynamic Stability Control will tug on the engine's reins if you get the idea to play Moss on a tight off-camber ess.
But again, why would you be doing that? You didn't pull the Range out of the 7-car garage to do qualifying laps. The engine, like the entire SUV - its looks, feel, sound, ride, height, capabilities, even its HD stereo and interfaces - was created to pass the test for stately and then nail all the extra credit questions. The motor's low-end torque helps it do that just as well any Range ever has, and the fractional improvement of all of those other qualities which means the 2010 Range does stately better than any Range ever has. And it does it faster. Sure, we'd like a proper horn, a remote CD changer that weren't so remote, a little less wind noise, a little more rear legroom and a few more mpg. But "royalty" and "perfection" have never met outside of the minds of actual royalty, and we've had more numerous and substantive complaints about more expensive cars that were less worthy. The 2010 Range Rover rocks our inner kings. It starts at $79,725, and if you treat yourself to one make sure you know your cape size.