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Feigning royalty in a 2013 Range Rover: Motoramic Family Drive

Patrick Hong
January 31, 2014

This past summer, Will and Kate ferried their newborn son Prince George of Cambridge home from hospital in the all-new Range Rover. Long associated with chaperoning nobility during hunting expeditions, and parked in front of vast castles with more land than John C. Malone, the Range Rover’s tall greenhouse look and its straight-back stance exude a rich sense of aristocracy.

Feeling a bit majestic ourselves this summer, we decided to take the 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged, the longest-named vehicle in history, to San Diego for our own royal vacation. Only we didn't require a bullet-proof exterior. Or a swarm of bodyguards.

With our 4-day luggage occupying not even half of the rear trunk space, our two Bichon Frisé dogs, Wallace and Gromit, prefer to be pampered on my wife Elise’s lap rather than being locked up in the crate for our impending 2-hour drive. I don’t blame them. Sitting inside the Range Rover, surrounded by rich leather mixed with polished wood and aluminum accents, it’s easy to sense that royal atmosphere. Elise notes that she loves the smooth and calm nature of the ride, especially “after enjoying the most comfortable headrest ever!” Our ten- and eight-year old boys echoed that same sentiment. Given the tall nature of large SUVs, compounded by the Range's greenhouse glass design, it feels like you're higher than everyone else around you, reinforcing that aristocratic sensation of riding on a carriage high above your minions.

Riding high does come at a price, however. Between SeaWorld Park, Padres Petco baseball stadium and food stops, lots of climbing in-and-out of the car is required. And by the end of the day, Elise notices several black marks across our boys’ shorts. After initially blaming the kids for not being careful, we realize that our mischievous boys are not at fault. Rather the Range Rover’s rear wheel well cuts into the rear door, leaving no way to avoid rubbing against the tires when entering or exiting. This is especially true in tight parking spaces where there isn't much room to open the doors.

Despite its all-aluminum body, the Range Rover Supercharged tips the scale at a hefty 5100 lbs, but its 510 hp, 5.0-liter supercharged engine, meshed to a sharp 8-speed ZF automatic transmission, does a good job making the SUV feel light on its feet. There's plenty of power in reserve when you want to pass slower traffic, and through the tight turns, the air springs and adaptive damping keep everything in order — as one expects from royalty.

Our test car has the optional $2,400 rear entertainment system. Having a twin-screen setup, where the TVs are fitted into the headrests, allows for better viewing than the typical roof-mounted TV in the center. In addition to enjoying movie watching, our oldest boy is impressed by the circular shift-knob that rises and lowers when the car is turned on and off. And our youngest also likes the self-parallel parking feature ($650 Park Assist), comparing it to an amusement park ride when we tested it in front of our house.

One gripe our entire family agrees on is the slow-reacting touch-screen infotainment system. It's frustrating to cycle through the menus, not knowing if what you pressed actually worked. You try touching it again, but the menu finally changes. Now you've just selected a different choice and need to go back. Very frustrating.

With the 2013 Range Rover Supercharged starting at $99,995, it's definitely intended for those with higher incomes; most Range Rover customers possess an annual income north of $500,000. The car pampered us on our San Diego vacation, and it’s nice to know that after a long day at an amusement park, we had something comfortable awaiting our return.

Overall, our family’s consensus is that the new Range Rover is worth the money, especially in the premium SUV market. We only tested the car on-road, meaning to experience the Range Rover’s famed off-road prowess, we'll have to wait until our African safari — after we mortgage the house. I'll inform Jeeves.

2013 Range Rover Supercharged
CLASS 5-Passenger Sport Utility
ENGINE 5.0-liter V-8 supercharged
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
POWER 510 hp
TORQUE 461 lb.-ft.
WEIGHT 5,137 lbs.
EPA MILEAGE 13 City / 19 Highway
PROS Supple ride, excellent outward visibility
CONS Rear wheel/tire cuts into rear door, slow responding infotainment system