"A high quality, incredibly refined luxury car with true go-anywhere ability."
The Range Rover looks like a 4x4, but it's more of a rival these days for the Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8 and, yes, the Bentley Continental Flying Spur and Rolls-Royce Ghost. Such are the improvements in ride, interior quality and road-noise reduction (this is a seriously quiet car), it's a luxury car first and an off-roader second. That's why it won our 2013 CarBuyer Best Luxury Car award. However, there also aren't many cars that can match the Range Rover's off-road ability. The latest car has shed more than 400kg thanks to the use of lightweight aluminium, and that pays off with better fuel economy and low emissions for such a large car. The new V6 diesel is the pick of the bunch, for its blend of performance and economy, and is the nicer of the two diesels (the other being a V8) to drive – it feels slightly smoother with less of the noise normally associated with diesels. The supercharged V8 petrol is as fast as any sports car and makes a great sporty noise, too. But the diesels versions aren’t exactly slow and you won't have to fill them up as often.
You want comfort and refinement from your luxury car, with a bit of fun if the mood takes you, and the Range Rover provides all of that in abundance. For such a big and (still) heavy car, it's supremely quiet on the move – quieter even than the Bentley Continental Flying Spur around town, and quieter than an Audi A8 on the motorway. The way the car glides over bumps is sublime, too, though it can feel a little jittery on more uneven surfaces. Although the handling is tidier than ever, with less leaning through any corners, you’re likely to have more fun in a Range Rover when off-roading. The Terrain Response system makes it peerless over rough ground.
The Range Rover has upped its comfort level to something on par with the Rolls-Royce Ghost, and better than a Mercedes S-Class. Big, squishy chairs hold you in place and support the bits that need supporting – you can even get them to massage you on some models. The high-up driving position gives you a great all-around view (and there are optional cameras to help you even more), while all the controls are sensibly placed and easy to use. There are 50 per cent fewer buttons on the dashboard than in the old car, but many functions have been moved to the touchscreen infotainment system. That makes it quite fiddly to use, needing too many prods (which leave too many finger prints) for some minor functions. The new system also makes it difficult to find even the most basic of commands.
Range Rover has a reputation for high class, stylish 4x4s, but there's no denying its poor reputation for reliability over the years. Parent company Land Rover consistently comes towards the bottom of owner satisfaction surveys, with some big bills reported on older models. The new Range Rover is built in a different way and in a different factory, while electrical components are less complex and more reliable. We hope that bodes well for a more reliable future. The Range Rover has also been awarded a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, which includes one of the highest ratings ever given for pedestrian protection in the 'Large Off-Roader' category.
The new Range Rover has more space between the wheels than the old model, so there's more room for stretching out in the back of the car. It's still much easier to get into a low-level luxury car like the Mercedes S-Class or Audi A8, though. Even with the Range Rover dropped down on its air-suspension in Access mode, it's quite a jump up, while the front of the rear wheel arch still gets in the way. The boot is large, though, and easier than ever to access, with the traditional split two-piece tailgate now opening at the touch of a button with electrical assistance.
Value for money
Range Rovers have always been expensive, but this latest model has had a significant price rise over the old car. That said, prices are competitive when you compare them to the likes of the Mercedes S-Class or Audi A8 and the level of equipment on the Range Rover is slightly more generous – you get more standard gadgets and gizmos whether you go for Vogue, Vogue SE or Autobiography models. And compared to a Bentley or Rolls-Royce, which the Range Rover now competes with, it still looks like good value.
You wouldn’t expect a luxury car to be cheap to run, but with efficient diesel engines, the Audi A8, Mercedes S-Class and even the Jaguar XJ will do over 40mpg and carry you huge distances between visits to the filling station. The Range Rover's new lightweight body means it's far more fuel efficient than before, with the excellent new V6 diesel engine achieving 37mpg, according to Land Rover. Whether you get that in the real world remains to be seen – this will still be an expensive car to keep running, with maintenance costs on the high side, too. Only consider the supercharged V8 petrol if you really need the extra acceleration and can live with only 21mpg fuel economy.