2011 Land Rover Range Rover Review:
Like the Jeep in America, England’s Land Rover is the original real deal when it comes to off-road vehicles in the U.K.
After years of testing them off road I can say with assurance that they can handle most any volume or viscosity of mud and muck and keep on roving.
One of Rover’s latest, the 2011 Range Rover Sport HSE, is equally dashing in appearance and performance. And while Land Rover is now owned by India’s Tata Motors, they are still built in Solihull, England.
What makes Rovers so special? Unlike many casual sport-utility trucks, these can go deeply off road. Whether you’d do that with a $63,095 vehicle is another matter.
That’s a lot of money. Is it worth it? Considering you can get average SUVs loaded with luxury interiors and features for $50,000 to $60,000 and not have such capabilities, I’d say yes. For the record, the Sport will wade through 27.5-inch deep water.
And there’s more to like, even if gas mileage is not among them.
The shiny silver test truck was smooth and comfortable, starting with its 5.0-liter aluminum alloy V8 and six-speed automatic transmission. That duo works well to create a luxury feel.
Sporty SUVs often give you 300 or so horsepower to take these heavy vehicles up to highway speeds. The Rover has 375 horsepower and it kicks in quickly. Getting the Rover up to speed isn’t easy – it weighs 5,540 lbs.
That’s a major reason why you won’t be cruising past too many gas stations without a glance at the fuel gauge. I got 14.4 mpg, while the trip computer was a more optimistic 15.9. Still, I was surprised at how much better the gas mileage was with the V8 and extra 1,000 pounds compared with the V6-powered Jeep I’d driven earlier. The EPA estimates you’ll get 13 mpg city and 18 highway, and my miles were evenly divided between the two. Premium fuel is preferred.
The Sport has four-wheel independent suspension, with an electronic air suspension, giving the Rover a comfortable ride, aided by its 113.3-inch wheelbase.
There are four-wheel disc brakes and a stability and traction system. The four-wheel drive can be adjusted to five settings for everything from ice and snow to mud and alligators.
With 6.8 inches of ground clearance, this doesn’t ride as high as the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. But the Rover can afford to ride a little lower than the Jeep as it has a button on the console that allows you to raise the truck a bit more than 2 inches in just a few seconds.
While it requires a stretch to get inside the Sport, once there you feel you’re in a tall luxury sedan that is so quiet you could talk to back seat passengers without raising your voice.
Leather, all black in the test truck, is plentiful. There’s leather on the dash, doors and certainly the seats, which are flat but comfortable, thanks to the soft leather Rover uses.
These have power all around and will move up and down. Three memory buttons allow for multiple drivers of varying size and there are three-speed heaters, and the rear seats are heated as well. Best yet, the steering wheel is heated. But most of that is part of a $1,500 option package.
Dash and door trim is a satin metal finish. All controls and gauges are easy to see and use, not always the case on luxury vehicles that try to overwhelm you with technology to justify their price.
Standard is a rearview camera, nine-speaker stereo system, navigation system, telephone integration with Bluetooth, and Homelink in the rearview mirror. There’s a power sunroof, too.
Surprisingly, there is no blind-spot warning system standard.
The test vehicle added some real wood trim for $350. The only other option was a digital and satellite radio for $750.
The base price for the Sport HSE is $59,645. That’s not even close to the top price for the Sport, which is available in a supercharged model with a starting price of $74,545. The supercharging pumps the Sport up to 510 horsepower, while dropping gas mileage by only 1 mpg, both city and highway.
But how usable is this for everyday hauling? It’s comfortable to be sure, plus the back seat is roomy enough to hold three adults comfortably. The rear cargo area is large, and the split hatch allows you to open the window separately from the hatch.
Bottom line, the Sport is a fine SUV for folks who can afford the finer things.