Land Rover Range Rover LWB — Ultimate SUV luxury

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The redesigned Range Rover takes the upscale suburban SUV driving experience to a new level pampering its occupants with cutting-edge features including scrumptious leather, and a comfortable ride thanks to a new aluminum air suspension system. The fourth-generation Range Rover is as accomplished as any luxury vehicle at providing the better things of driving life.

Now a long wheelbase version designed to provide limousine-like comfort has been introduced. The standard Range Rover has been stretched nearly eight inches adding a whooping 7.3 inches of rear seat legroom. The extra stretch-out space and incredibly quiet cabin create a truly ultra-luxury experience.

You might think the extra length would disrupt the delightfully stylish and crisp proportions of the Range Rover, but — almost incredibly — it gives the big sport utility a more stately presence. If there's anything slightly out of place it's the gargantuan rear doors that allow those who desire to be chauffeured easy entry and exit.

Optional in the standard-wheelbase Range Rover is a 5-liter 510-horsepower supercharged V-8 bolted to an eight-speed automatic transmission that accomplishes the 0-to-60 sprint in 5.1 seconds. The V-8 is standard equipment in the LWB version and, despite the extra weight associated with the extra size, Land Rover says the LWB version can finish off a 0-to-60 run in just 5.5 seconds. We found it breathtaking.

While gas mileage is not a concern for most owners the supercharged V8 is near reasonably rated at 14 city, 19 highway and 16 mpg overall. Premium gas is recommended, but Land Rover says regular gas can be burned without hurting the engine.

Despite its size — 204.7 inches in length and weighing in at 5,320 pounds — we found the Range Rover LWB handled the twists and turns of back-road driving as well as most luxury SUVs we've driven. It remained flat and well-planted on moderately excessive cornering riding on its 21-inch tires. Steering is well controlled with good on-center feel.

Although this Range Rover's main duty in life is to haul up to four passengers in luxurious comfort, it can go virtually anywhere with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, four-wheel drive, and five terrain preferences that can be dialed in including mud, sand, snow or rocks. And there's all-terrain dynamic stability control, four-channel all-terrain ABS, and Hill Descent Control to help you creep down steep inclines. It can tow most weekend toys with a rating of 7,716 pounds.

The interior is loaded with upscale leather and wood trim, and the center stack has a right-sized display. A simple and intuitive set of climate controls is situated below the display, surrounded by wood, while only the gear selection dial and the assorted off-road controls interrupt the wood and leather theme of the center console.

Standard equipment in back includes the requisite large cupholders in the center armrest, a storage tray and temperature controls. We did discover one downside, however. If you must include a third person on your trip, make it for short jaunts as the center position in the standard bench seat model had a very hard seatback. The extended-wheelbase model also comes with an extended panoramic sunroof.

Such optional equipment as power-deployable rear tables, huge DVD entertainment screens and reclining — with lumbar support — and optional massaging rear seats offer passengers the best ride in the industry. Of course the seats are also heated and cooled as the climate dictates.

The big SUV can also haul a fair amount of cargo behind the seats measured at 32.1 cubic feet. Cargo volume increases to 82.8 cubic feet with the seats folded. Power buttons inside the rear hatch allow a person to lower the seatbacks with just a touch.

What may have you gasping for air is the price of the Range Rover long wheelbase which starts $106,195 including destination. But that's not the entire story because the cost with options — many and relatively expensive and very desirable for a vehicle in this classification — can shoot the price into the stratosphere.

For instance, our test vehicle carried $16,705 worth of extras bringing the bottom line to $122,900. Included were four-zone climate control with solar attenuating windshield glass and climate controlled seats front and rear, and a center console cooling box for beverages costing $4,150; and a Vision Assist package that includes a surround-view camera and blind-spot monitoring was $1,760. Other extras included adaptive cruise for $1,295 and a Meridian premium 825-watt sound system for $1,650.

Those with unlimited resources can add the Autobiography Black Package for $78,805 or the Autobiography Black Package with Valloire White Paint for an extra $93,305 bringing the bottom line to $199,530.

Base Price: $106,195; as driven: $122,900
Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V8
Horsepower: 510 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 461 foot-pounds @ 2,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: Four-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 122.9 inches
Length: 204.7 inches
Curb weight: 5,320 pounds
Turning circle: 40 feet
Luggage capacity: 32.1 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 82.8 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 27.7 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 19 highway, 14 city
0-60: 5.5 seconds (manufacturer)
Also consider: Cadillac Escalade ESV, Mercedes G-Class

The Good
• Quick on its feet with supercharged V8
• Off-road capability
• Luxurious, quiet cabin
• Spacious and pampering rear seating

The Bad
• No third-row seat option

The Ugly
• Options are many and pricey