I came around the corner and stopped instantly in my tracks. There it sat gleaming in the sunshine, a sleek, dazzling white behemoth that almost took my breath away. I’ve driven various generations of Range Rovers over the years but none of them had the presence that this one does.
Gerry McGovern’s design team at Land Rover did a remarkable job of redesigning this big SUV. Even though every surface and shape on the body was changed you’ll instantly recognize it as a Range Rover. And they got that brand recognition with design, not with gigantic, garish badges.
The front end is a textbook example of aerodynamic profiling. The grille, bumper fascia, headlamps and leading edge of the hood all come together in one smooth plane that actually invites you to run your hand over it. And in an era where other SUVs bark at you with a gaping maw of a grille, Range Rover has a sensibly sized one that gives it a more sophisticated air.
At the stern, your eyes will feast on what has got to be the best resolved rear-end design of any SUV in the world—so clean, so simple, so modern. It’s amazing what the proper taillamp covers and a few plastic appliques can do to complete a styling theme.
There’s no such thing as taking a peek inside to see what the interior looks like. You will open the door and gasp, then find yourself settling into one of the seats with a comfortable sigh. It’s that alluring. Go ahead and try. I dare you to resist the temptation.
The seats are wide, deep and upholstered in baby-smooth leather. The second row seats even provide you with footrests, as well as console controls that allow you to adjust just about everything in the cabin to your personal preference. Up front, a large screen is placed close at hand for the driver, while the gauge cluster peeks out from a well-padded instrument panel. The total effect is glorious.
Or, at least it’s glorious when everything works. For some reason, the right rear door on this SV did not work. You couldn’t open it from the outside and the window and seat-adjustment controls on the arm rest were kaput. Hopefully this was a one-off glitch and not indicative of the niggling problems that got Land Rover ranked dead last in J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Survey this year.
Out on the road the air suspension lives up to its name. This rolling living room feels like it’s floating on air. Or at least it does at low speeds on smooth roads. On uneven pavement, or when hitting a bump at highway speeds, the ride can get rough and intrusive. One culprit is probably the big 22-inch wheels which look great but add a lot of unsprung weight that can overwhelm the “Adaptive Dynamics” of the suspension system.
There’s a lot of power under the hood, 523 turbocharged V8 horses to be exact. And they do an admirable job of getting this 7,000 pound SUV to pick up its feet and sprint. But there’s a hesitation when you stomp on it, most noticeably from a stop or at low speeds. Maybe I’m getting spoiled by the instant response of the EVs I’m testing these days, but this brief lag seems to be a problem with most IC vehicles, even the turbocharged ones. Most times you won’t even notice it. But when you need to shoot across an intersection because that cement truck is barreling down on you, that 2-second hesitation will instantly peg the stress meter.
OK, now to the price. I like to try and guess what my test cars cost before looking at the actual price sheet. And I invite family and friends to play the guessing game too. None of us guessed it right. In fact, none of us even came within $80,000 of guessing the SV’s actual $225,590 price tag.
That’s a lot of money for a Range Rover, even one as nice as this is. But I bet they can pull it off as long as they don’t make too many and keep it very exclusive. This is the perfect vehicle for high-income owners who want to make a statement wherever they go.
By: John McElroy
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John McElroy is an influential thought leader in the automotive industry. He is a journalist, lecturer, commentator and entrepreneur. He created “Autoline Daily,” the first industry webcast of industry news and analysis.