Is the 2013 Range Rover the world’s best SUV? Motoramic TV
The 2012 Range Rover was swell — beautiful interior, powerful engines and styling that earned icon status about five years ago. Designed and introduced back when BMW owned Rover, the Range Rover was the rare design that survived a full decade without seeming dated. But ten years equals an eternity in the car business, and 2013 heralds a new Range Rover era. The new SUV looks much like the old one, embracing the Porsche 911 strategy of not messing with a good thing, but making it just different enough to tip off the neighbors. The real action lies under the skin, where Land Rover tackled the old machine's biggest problem: its weight.
Thanks to an all-aluminum chassis (the only one in an SUV), the new Range Rover is about 700 pounds lighter than the old one. The bare body is in fact 50 pounds lighter than that of a BMW 3-series, and the base V-8 model weighs 4,850 lbs. Subtracting weight, rather than adding power, confers all sorts of advantages — handling, fuel economy and off-the-line quickness all improve.
I recall that when Porsche introduced the original Cayenne Turbo, they said something to the effect of, "This thing is 90 percent of a Range Rover off road and 150 percent better on-road." Since then, the Porsche has dialed back its off-road aspirations, but the Range Rover has drastically improved its on-pavement prowess. Burdened with so much less weight and bolted to the new ZF 8-speed transmission, the carryover direct-injected V-8s (in 375 hp naturally aspirated and 510 hp supercharged flavors) hurtle this box down the road with nearly Porsche-like haste. The Supercharged model does 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds, splitting the difference between a Cayenne S and a Cayenne Turbo. That's pretty nifty for a machine that is still equipped to crawl up mountains in Africa.
Which is what we did with it.
Land Rover introduced its new flagship in Morocco, surely planning for dramatic sand-flinging on the dunes and heroic mountain-goat rock crawling in the Atlas Mountains. But nature threw a curveball, with a omnipresent soaking deluge turning the fluffy dunes into hardpack oatmeal and the highest mountain roads into rockslide-scarred no-go areas. But the weather accidentally helped prove the relevance of an imperial high-riding SUV, as we powered through raging flash-floods and soaked rural roads that surely tested the labyrinthine new air intake -- breathing from the gap between the hood and fenders, this built-in snorkel affords a wading depth of nearly three feet. More than once, I glanced out the window and remarked that I wouldn't want to be walking across the terrain that we were serenely regarding from the comfort of our leather-trimmed aerie.
The revised four-wheel independent air suspension offers 10.2 inches of wheel travel up front and 12.2 inches at the rear, both numbers only about an inch shy of what you get in a Ford Raptor. A new Dynamic Response active lean control system counters body roll on the road while also allowing major axle articulation off-road. The Supercharged can be had with an active rear differential lock in addition to the standard locking center diff. If probably goes without saying, but low range is still standard. True to its heritage, the Range Rover will go places that only a tiny minority of owners will ever dare take it. We did drive up over a craggy mountain trail, a detour that Land Rover claimed was necessary because of a washout but I'd wager was just for the fun of it. Hey, I'm always in favor of gratuitous off-road shenanigans.