Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged — Leading the way

By Al Vinikour

There used to be an advertising tag line for Hills Brothers Coffee that said, “Follow me, Men…head for the hills.” I was reminded of this recently as I spent some time with the 2012 Range Rover Supercharged. This is a luxury vehicle that could leave an impassable mountain range crying when it drove away.

There is so much rock climbing/spelunking/stream-fording technology built into this vehicle that it begs to take on all terrain challengers. Sad, or happy to say, the percentages of people who will take this six-figure vehicle camping in the wilderness could probably be counted on Captain Hook’s hands. And why would you even want to leave the highway with this impressive machine? In it, its occupants are subjected to almost every convenience, luxury and technology that can be fitted in a vehicle.

Unlike some of its “smaller” siblings, Range Rover Supercharged connotes masculinity. Just to start the conversation by putting engine data on the table, the vehicle is equipped with a 5.0-liter chain-driven double-overhead cam, four-valves per cylinder, variable camshaft timing (VCT) supercharged V-8 that will develop 510 horsepower and a whopping 461 pound-feet of torque.

Put another way, this is a 5,891-pound vehicle that will hit 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds and carries a speed-limited top end of 140 mph.

The mighty engine is mated to its friend, Mr. 6-speed automatic transmission with CommandShift (Normal, Sport and Manual Modes) and contains permanent four-wheel drive with four-wheel electronic traction control (4ETC). It sits on 20” x 8.5” aluminum alloy wheels and 255/50R-20 performance radial tires (with full-size spare alloy wheel and tire).

One of the things I particularly enjoy is taking what dignity is left from some guy in a souped-up beater pickup who sits alongside me at a stop light and figures he’s going to make mincemeat out of that hoity-toity “furiner” next to him. Next thing he knows he’s looking at my tail lamps with their gloss black plates and my unique dual quadrangle exhaust finishers — providing he can see that far down the road.

The new Range Rover is not a small vehicle by any means, with an overall length of 195.8 inches, an overall width of 87.2 inches and an overall height of 73.9 inches. Furthermore, it has a standard clearance of 9.1 inches and an off-road mode of 11.1 inches minimum ground clearance. It has a braked trailer towing capacity of 7,716 pounds, a maximum roof-rack load of 220 pounds and a maximum payload of 1,164 pounds. With the seats folded down the cargo volume is 74.2 cubic feet.

The vehicle does have a hearty appetite when it comes to burning fuel…but then again, if you’re concerned about fuel costs you are not considering a vehicle of this type…move along…there are dozens of much cheaper and certainly less capable vehicles at dealerships down the street. Fuel tank capacity is 27.6 gallons and EPA fuel-economy estimates are 12 mpg city/18 mpg highway.

Entering the vehicle isn’t the easiest thing in the world. A running board of some type would be a welcome addition because not everyone has been through imaginary Army Ranger Training like I was and could hop in and repel myself out of this vehicle with relative ease.

Once inside and comfortably ensconced in the 14-way power-adjustable driver’s and front-passenger’s luxury-grade European leather seating it’s hard to imagine the Range Rover is as big a vehicle as it is because it certainly doesn’t drive that way although turning is rather truck-like, albeit a “luxury” truck.

The new Range Rover has a wealth of safety features including my favorite — blind spot information system. I can’t begin to count the number of near-misses this technology has saved me from. Other safety devices include nine airbags, collapsible steering column, collision-activated inertia switch, front crumple zones, heated front windshield and rear windows, heated windshield-washer jets, an integrated whiplash reduction system in the front seating and a host of other potential life-saving features

I don’t know how to describe the exterior styling other than to say it’s a “stately rectangular box. It definitely has an elegant stance, however. It’s not beautiful so much as it better fits the description of handsome. As mentioned, it definitely is a gentleman’s ride. The big, bold grille and massive hood jut out like Jay Leno’s chin. Wheel wells are cut and curved nicely. The interior, however, is where all the goodies live.

Among standard comfort and convenience items are a hard-drive navigation system with 7-inch high resolution touch-screen and voice activation, personal telephone integration system with Bluetooth capability and steering wheel-mounted controls, a 12.3-inch Thin Film Transistor Virtual Instrument Panel with computer graphic gauges, images and text, power tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel with automatic tilt-away for each ingress/egress, triple-zone automatic climate control, enhanced rear center armrest with dual cup holders and covered storage, electronic parking brake, Front & Rear Park Distance Control and too many other items both standard and available to list here.

The standard audio system is first-class; the optional one is way beyond that.

As for cost, there’s good news and not-so-good news. The good news is that Range Rover is not subject to luxury tax as it’s classified as a multi-purpose vehicle with a GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) in excess of 6,000 pounds. The not-so-good news is the MSRP of the 2012 Range Rover Supercharged is $94,820 (plus $850 inland transportation cost).

My test vehicle had the rear seat entertainment system ($2,500), rear recline seat package ($1,250) and the Silver Package (a variety of dress-up items for the interior - $3,300) for a bottom line cost of $102,720.

Look at it this way: the 2012 Range Rover Supercharged will take you to almost any place on this planet that’s not covered deeply in water; you sure can’t say the same about a Rolls Royce or a Bentley…and you’ll pay a lot more for one.