Would you take a $100,000 Range Rover into a field of goopy mud? Or through a swampy forest? Or across a ragged rock field with boulders ready and waiting to ding and dent your shiny paintwork? No, neither would I.
That’s the strange confusion that comes with every new Range Rover. Here is arguably the most luxurious SUV on the planet equipped with the most advanced and sophisticated four-wheel drive system of any vehicle. A system that’s been proven across some of the world’s most rugged terrains.
Yet, the truth is, probably 99 per cent of buyers would never want, or need, to make use of it.
Of course Land Rover’s argument is that it’s there if you need it. If the snow’s falling on the way up to your ski lodge in Aspen. If a flash flood blocks the road to your favorite grouse-annihilating spot in the Scottish Highlands.
But after spending a week in the company of the latest 2015 Range Rover HSE, I was happy to stay on-road and not get it’s mirror-finish paintwork scratched, or its lovely hand-stitched carpeting muddied.
To me, a new Range Rover is one thing, and one thing only – a sexy, elegant, classy, luxury sedan brimming with British class and cool.
Don’t think of it as an SUV; it’s an alternative to any Mercedes S-Class, or BMW 7 Series, or Audi A8 luxury sedan. And when you get to the upper echelons of Range Rover luxury – the $200,000 Autobiography Black long-wheelbase, you are definitely getting into Bentley territory.
In fact next month, Bentley will unveil its first-ever SUV, the weirdly-named Bentley Bentayga – don’t ask – which has been created in direct response to Range Rover’s determined ascent up-market.
So what of this new HSE? It’s interesting in that instead of having some gas-guzzling V8 under the hood, it features a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 courtesy of Jaguar.
The V6 cranks out a healthy 340-horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. And thanks to its responsive, smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic it always feels quick and nimble, despite having to haul almost 5,000 pounds of bulk.
And don’t think that V6 power is going to make this aluminum-bodied HSE as economical as a Prius. Around town you’ll struggle to average 17 to the gallon, and on the highway its 23mpg EPA average is OK at best.
If you want miserly fuel economy in your Range Rover, wait till later this year when Land Rover starts offering it’s new diesel-engined models which promise close to 30mpg.
To drive this new HSE however, is to love it. I’ve been a devoted Range Rover groupie for the past 40 years, and they just keep getting better and better. Better quality, better materials, better fit and finish. And even greater capability.
And this 2015 version, with its cool 20-inch alloys, perforated leather trim, gorgeous black wood veneers and must-have, huge panoramic glass roof, is one of the very best ways you can dispose of $85,000 on a new vehicle.
The supercharged V6 is also light years ahead of the old naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V8 that powered the previous HSE at the bottom end of the range.
It feels more energetic – even though it’s half a second slower to 60mph than the old V8 – more refined, more serene and has the benefit of producing 22 per cent fewer nasty greenhouse gases. It’s also 2mpg more economical across the board.
And sitting way up high behind the wheel, you never feel anything less than King of the Road.
Which is still the best way to describe any new Range Rover. King of the Road, indeed.