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Tread Lighter

Howard Walker

   No longer can the abbreviation “SUV” be associated with that icon of British style and elegance, the Range Rover. Sport utility vehicle? You obviously haven’t laid eyes on the all-new version.
   There’s nothing even remotely utilitarian about this fourth-generation Range Rover—which is why I’m officially changing its moniker from “SUV” to “SLV,” as in “Super Luxury Vehicle.”
   To prove my point, enjoy a moment of comfort and hedonistic relaxation in the reconfigured, redesigned rear cabin of the 2013 Range Rover Autobiography.

2013 Range Rover - Luxury Sports Utility Vehicle

   Getting in and out is so much easier now thanks to bigger, barn-gate-wide door openings, along with an “Access” ride height mode for the standard air suspension that lowers the car by two inches. You can leave the step ladders in the garage.
Lengthening the car’s wheelbase also has added 4.7 inches of stretch-out legroom in the back, transforming it into the prom-night Town Car of SUVs.
2013 Range Rover - luxury SUV   Then there are the seats. Opt for the Executive Class package and you get individual pews the size of Barcaloungers. At the touch of a button, they can recline, give you a back massage only a Swedish Helga can perform, heat you up or cool you down. Once ensconced, you’ll never want to leave.
   And why would you when 8-inch high-res video screens in the back play your favorite movies? When cranked up, the 29 speakers in the optional 1,700-watt Meridian Signature Reference audio system can make your ears bleed. Enya has never sounded so mystical.

   If you can pry yourself out of the back and slide behind the wheel, the driving experience will change the way you think about full-size 4x4s. Conjure up an image of a Rolls-Royce on stilts—this is it. Maybe that’s why they share those “RR” initials.
   The biggest change here is weight. For this all-new model, the Land Rover folks made the bold decision to switch from steel to aluminum for the entire body structure. Compared to the previous model, this new Range Rover is a whopping 700 pounds lighter. That’s huge. It’s like extracting three Warren Sapps from the back seat.
2013 Range Rover interior - shifter knob and 4x4 control   Less weight means zippier acceleration, nimbler handling and better fuel economy, all of which this new Range Rover achieves with aplomb. Compared to the previous model, this one feels like there’s Red Bull in the fuel tank.
   That’s certainly the case when driving this Autobiography model, with its standard 510-horsepower, supercharged V-8 under the hood, coupled with a rapid-shifting 8-speed automatic.
   With less metal to move, this four-wheel-drive rocket ship can streak from standstill to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds. That’s crazy fast. And with a stump-pulling 461 pound-feet of muscley torque at your disposal, mid-range thrust for fast, safe passing is simply breathtaking.
   It’s not just straight-line performance that makes this new Rover a joy to drive. It’s equipped, for the first time, with Land Rover’s Dynamic Response active lean control system. Using the car’s air suspension and some computer wizardry, it can reduce the amount of body roll on corners and smooth out the ride.
Interior of the 2013 Range Rover - luxury SUV   And while I could fill an entire issue of Palm Beach Illustrated with a description of the Range Rover’s highly advanced 4x4 technology, believe me when I say it can go anywhere. I just spent three days in Utah on the Hog Canyon Trail near Kanab, taking it places no luxury vehicle should venture.
   So what is the cost of perfection? New Range Rover pricing starts at $83,545 for the entry model, climbing to $130,995 for the best-of-the-best supercharged Autobiography.
   “Best-of-the-best” really does sum up this remarkable, go-anywhere machine. It is, to my mind, the finest, most capable luxury vehicle in the world. The fact that it can climb mountains is simply a bonus. A Super Luxury Vehicle indeed.

Grille of the uber-luxe 2013 Range Rover

 

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