9

The fourth-generation Range Rover is here to be judged as a luxury car as much as it is a 4x4

Find Used Range Rover 2013-2021 review deals
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Used car deals
From £93,995
Sell your car
In partnership with
Powered by

There is no bolder testament to the inherent rightness of the Range Rover’s design and longevity that, as the model entered its 43rd year, it only then launched its fourth generation. Each of which, remember, has been launched with Land Rover under different ownership.

This latest Range Rover’s internal codename is L405, and it is as revolutionary as at any time in the iconic 4x4’s history. Most interesting from an engineering standpoint is that it receives an aluminium monocoque; most interesting from a sales perspective is that it is now, from base model to range-topper, unashamedly a luxury model.

The Vogue SE offers all you could reasonably ask, with the option of adding a few extras if you can't live without them

Car manufacturers are rather catching up with the market on this one; there are plenty of models that are executive cars first and SUVs second, but not ones that are out-and-out luxury cars first and 4x4s second.

Land Rover wouldn’t countenance that the 4x4 aspect to the Range Rover is second to anything, but let’s be clear: when your base model costs £76,350, you’re dealing in luxury metal. Let’s see how that blends with its other purposes.

 

Advertisement

DESIGN & STYLING

Range Rover rear

A great deal of noise has been made about the weight that Land Rover has saved in engineering this fourth-generation Range Rover.

We applaud the effort, but the hype needs some tempering. No one should confuse this for a light car. Our test example tickled the MIRA weighbridge to the tune of just over 2.6 tonnes – getting on for 300kg heavier than Solihull’s claim for an unoptioned V8 diesel. It wasn’t a flagship-spec car, either.

A full size spare wheel is a £200 option. On a car like this we think it ought to be standard

Breadth of ability is this car’s saving grace. It may weigh as much as two normal family cars, but it should be able to do the job of at least that many. Imperious luxury is the most brightly shining of the Range Rover’s several USPs, and there’s promise of improvement on that. The car’s lighter, stiffer monocoque should bring its own gains in rolling and mechanical refinement, but new ‘dual-isolation’ engine mounts have also been adopted.

Add to that an air suspension system with all-new aluminium chassis arms, active dampers and anti-roll bars for the last word in rolling compliance, along with new ‘low-hysteresis’ air springs on the front axle (designed for a quieter, smoother secondary ride), and you’re beginning to understand the lengths to which Land Rover has gone in order to deliver a truly cosseting experience for all on board.

This is still a Land Rover, of course, so capability off road has also been improved. The Range Rover can tow 3500kg, while ground clearance has increased to a maximum of more than 300mm and wading depth to 900mm, with the engines drawing air via a gap between bonnet panels.

There are six engines on offer. A V6 turbodiesel makes a welcome return, producing 255bhp. The 503bhp supercharged V8 petrol is the familiar range-topping option, while the rest of the range is punctuated by 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol and diesel, a 4.4-litre V8 oilburner and JLR's Special Vehicle Operations tweaked supercharged 5.0-litre V8 producing a mammoth 542bhp.

INTERIOR

Range Rover interior

When you take the sizeable upward step into the Range Rover’s cabin, seat yourself in the standard electrically adjustable, heated, cooled, massaging, leather-covered seats and take in the luxurious ambience of the surroundings, it’s hard not to be impressed.

The Range Rover’s leather looks like leather, its wood like wood and the metal like metal, while even the plastic and rubberised mouldings exude an impression of quality and luxury. The Range Rover has nothing to fear from any car costing less than £100,000 and little to fear from most cars even at well above that figure. In fact, from your lofty viewpoint you can even begin to understand why the Range Rover weighs as much as it does.

The sat-nav's ETA is wildly inconsistent, sometimes thinking you'll average a mile a minute in central London

Accommodation in the front is spacious, and it’s fine in the back, where there are electrically adjustable seat backs. The 909 to 2030-litre boot is accessed by the traditional split tailgate, whose separate elements are both electrically operated as standard.

There are five trims to choose from, with two created by the SVO crack-team and two bespokely for the long-wheelbase models. The entry-level Vogue trimmed Range Rover gets a panoramic roof, heated and folding wing mirrors, xenon headlights, keyless entry and start, 20in alloy wheels, along with JLR's terrain response system on the outside as standard. Inside there are perforated leather heated seats and a heated steering wheel, tri-zone climate control, reversing camera, and Land Rover's autonomous safety technology, alongside JLR's InControl infotainment system complete with Bluetooth, DAB radio and a 380W Meridian sound system.

Upgrade to the popular Vogue SE trim and you'll gain 21in alloy wheels, 20-way electrically adjustable and ventilated front seats, a beefier 825W Meridian sound system, adaptive headlights, a 360-degree camera, and ambient interior lighting.

Autobiography-trimmed Range Rovers come with Noble plated paddle shifters, a sliding panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, four-zone climate control, massaging front seats, reclining rear seats and a lane guidance system, while the über-luxury SVAutobiography Dynamic models gain red Brembo brake calipers, a quad-exhaust system, dynamic chassis, suspension and steering, 1700W Meridian sound system and 22in alloy wheels.

The long wheelbase models come in Autobiography and SVAutobiography spec, with the former gaining all the equipment found on the SWB version plus a rear entertainment pack inclusive of two 10.2in rear displays, rear sunblinds and 186mm of extra legroom. The SVAutobiography includes rear executive class seating with massage function, a heated wood and leather steering wheel, and numerous chrome details.

The driving position is first rate and the seats are excellent (particularly the super-soft optional winged head restraints), giving a clear view past mercifully thin pillars across a bonnet that is, similarly mercifully, easy to place. Owing to its easily judged edges, and with a limited amount of tumblehome (angle in the glasshouse), the Range Rover is easier to position on the road than its dimensions would suggest.

Some cars, such as the Audi Q7, feel too large and unwieldy for Britain’s country roads. The Range Rover was engineered on just such asphalt and spent serious amounts of time being threaded between the banks flanking the English Midlands and Welsh roads on which Jaguar Land Rover develops its cars. This home-grown development manifests itself just as much in the all-round visibility and placeability of the Range Rover as autobahn testing does in the impeccable straight-line stability of German performance cars.

ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

Range Rover side profile

Land Rover claims that the SDV8 Range Rover is capable of hitting 60mph from rest in 6.5sec. Shorn of a few options, plus the extra occupant and full tank of fuel with which we performance test our cars, we don’t doubt it would manage it. Even hampered by that ballast, the 7.0sec our test car wanted to reach 60mph felt like a pretty impressive result. That would have left most hot hatches for dust less than a decade ago.

Fine, too, is the response of the 4.4-litre V8. It settles to a muted idle – there is clearly some serious soundproofing going on here – and the eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox encourages it to spin at very low revs. It generates ample torque, with some 516lb ft available from as little as 1750rpm, allowing measured acceleration and easy cruising.

The SDV8 would have left most hot hatches for dust less than a decade ago

Ask more of it, perhaps by turning the rotary gear selector to S, and the engine becomes more audible - but no less refined. We can’t think of a situation in which you’d reasonably ask for more performance than it can deliver. Should you want the engine to spin entirely at your behest, the gearbox will, wherever possible, obey instructions sent via the wheel-mounted paddles – unlike, say, the recalcitrant seven-speed unit in a Mercedes. Prod past the kickdown point and the ’box will still select a lower ratio and change up by itself at the limit, but we have no qualms about that in a car such as this.

It's the mighty 5.0-litre V8 that gives the Range Rover the kind of performance that not that long ago we'd only expect from the likes of a BMW M5, propelling the car to 60mph in 5.4sec. 503bhp and the speed it endows the Range Rover with is well matched to the car's surprising agility. Obviously, if that isn't enough grunt than the SVAutobiography models may cater for you with its 542bhp 5.0-litre V8 borrowed from the Range Rover Sport SVR.

And the 3.0-litre V6 diesel in the TDV6, with its 255bhp and 442lb ft of torque from 2000rpm, is more than up to the job of motivating the Range Rover with refinement and more than adequate performance. It doesn't possess the overwhelming shove of the bigger petrol engine, or the bigger diesel, but you won't be wanting for overtaking ability.

We have no concerns about the Range Rover’s braking capability, either. Its ventilated front discs are 380mm in diameter, and in extremes of track testing they retained excellent retardation and pedal feel, hauling the Range Rover to a halt in impressive fashion time and again.

RIDE & HANDLING

Range Rover cornering

When it comes to luxury cars, our priority tends towards the former of our two headline dynamic traits. And providing a smooth secondary ride – that is, a car’s ability to smooth out smaller surface imperfections – should, in theory at least, be the Range Rover’s forte. A heavy bodyshell and high-profile rubber usually proffer exceptional bump-soothing qualities. And so it proves here, with this large 4x4 providing excellent isolation from the roughest and toughest of surfaces taken at low speeds.

It is exceptional, in fact, and particularly so given that, despite the many advantages a Range Rover does have, it is also equipped with air springs, which are not always the ideal choice for quiet progress over sharp ridges. Air suspension’s major advantage comes while traversing larger inputs and degrees of wheel travel, which can be compensated for by adjusting the air pressure. And so it proves.

It's surprising how enjoyable it is to hustle the Range Rover down a challenging road

Despite the Range Rover’s generous maximum wheel travel, it remains exceptionally stable across higher-speed roads that dip and crest and brow and have bad cambers, thanks to its active dampers and anti-roll bars. In corners, meanwhile, it is uncannily flat and fleet-footed for a car of such size.

The TDV6 doesn't come with the active anti-roll system, which makes it float about more than the two V8s, but its lower weight (thanks to the smaller engine) helps it to feel just as agile as the larger engined cars. And the supercharged V8 is just as deft and able as the diesel V8.

Don’t mistake this for a Porsche Cayenne, mind, as there isn’t the same level of engagement and interaction with the road surface. A Porsche Cayenne steers more keenly and with more road feel. It is a keener driver’s car on the road, but don’t dismiss the Range Rover as aloof by comparison. It is ridiculously easy to make enjoyable, rapid progress in the Range Rover; it’s easily placed in corners, has fine visibility and offers supreme isolation from poor surfaces and bad cambers.

That makes it a particularly satisfying place in which to sit and enjoy and admire the way that the car makes progress. There are times – many of them, in fact – when you’d scarcely credit the Range Rover with the kerb weight it carries. It may have the mass of a small hatchback on its front wheels alone, and yet more on the rears, but it can feel like it weighs almost half what it does when you’re threading down a country road, able to see over hedgerows and across bends that would have you waiting for the moment you can see far enough ahead to unleash the throttle and then hang on to the wheel as the chassis gets antsy in, say, a Porsche 911 Turbo or a Nissan GT-R.

These are the times when a Range Rover, which remains impeccably flat and surefooted even in appalling conditions, is probably as quick as anything else on sale, and undoubtedly as safe to pedal briskly.

With such levels of security and usability, it gives little cause for wonder that, for all their inherent thirst and size disadvantages, 4x4s have become the executive transport of choice anywhere with variable weather and road conditions. That the 4999mm-long, 1983mm-wide Range Rover can feel so manageable in such circumstances does it great credit.

MPG & RUNNING COSTS

Land Rover Range Rover review hero front

When you look at the Range Rover’s price, think of it not just as an alternative to a Toyota Land Cruiser, but also to anything from a Mercedes S-Class to a Bentley Continental GT or a Maserati Quattroporte. This is that sort of car, a piece of luxury equipment that could find itself taking the place on the driveway of anything this side of a Bentley Mulsanne.

Inevitably, of course, the Range Rover’s sharply focused luxury intent does mean that its price is lumpier than before. With that will come some faintly alarming depreciation, as is the norm with such cars.

At a cruise, the best you can hope for is around 35mpg

More worrying still is the fuel consumption returned by the SDV8 we spent the most time in, a car whose choice of the black pump and an eight-speed auto do not save it from the ravages of its weight and performance. At a cruise we returned no more than 35mpg, and overall no better than 25.5mpg. A car this big and this fast needs oomph, but you’ll pay for it at the pumps.

And if the rate the SDV8 uses fuel is alarming, the manner in which the 5.0-litre petrol drinks is positively terrifying. The official figures put combined cycle consumption at 20.5mpg, but if you go anywhere near making use of its exceptional performance that will plummet to 10mpg, and lower. The TDV6 comes a lot closer to turning in less scary figures, with an impressive official consumption of 37.7mpg and a sub-200g/km CO2 figure.

 

VERDICT

Range Rover rear quarter

The Range Rover is so achingly close to being a five-star car that it hurts. And the more time you spend with it, the more you live with it, being eased around the world in what is, without question, one of the finest and most impressive cars we’ve driven in a decade, the easier it becomes to justify.

You can even convince yourself that being the wrong side of two and a half tonnes – and barely the right side of 25mpg – is a small price to pay for its incredible ability.

The Range Rover is one of the finest and most impressive cars we've driven in a decade

Such is the burden of having the most all-round capable car in the world at your fingertips and beneath your feet. And there’s some truth in that. Being this good at everything comes at a price.

In the end, though, the lingering memory that, for all its aluminium technology, the Range Rover has the weight of a Porsche Cayman over each axle is sufficient to rob it of the ultimate accolade. But don’t let that make you forget what an exceptional car this is.

 

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Land Rover Range Rover 2013-2021 First drives