14 Mar
The 4th-generation super SUV gets better in every way

I know that look. I’ve seen it before, and I don’t like it. While we sit in our gleaming new 2013 Range Rovers somewhere in the lost hinterlands of southern Utah called Hog’s Canyon, two very serious hikers in German-flag emblazoned gear stare at us with bemusement. Like humans watching a squirrel trying to water ski. Or how aliens must look down at us when we’re smashing sub-atomic particles together. What the hell do these tender-footed city folk think they’re doing out here in the backwoods of Utah, in a soccer mom SUV? Our eyes meet, locked. Unblinking. A staring contest as High Noon showdown. Which is fitting, considering the Wile E. Coyote landscape surrounding us is about as wild, wild west as you can get.

Before us a hole the size of an oil drum has been dug out of the ground, first by rainwater and then exacerbated by mechanical wheel. It looks harrowing. It just doesn’t seem possible that this cube of shining opulence we’re driving, especially in stock street tires, will be capable of getting up and over this 10-foot wide ditch. After all, the indulgence we’re enjoying is dizzying. While the German hikers are getting wind-whipped and rosy cheeked by dropping temperatures, we’re sitting in a womb of pampered luxury. Semi-aniline leather wraps every surface, perfectly stitched around wood veneer trim. I’m taking turns having cold and hot air blown through the perforations of my seat while it massages my tired back (I’ve been driving for an exhausting three hours, after all), and in the “chiller box” in the rear cabin a Fiji water is kept frosty to quench my parched palette. I’d prefer champagne as is surely the box’s raison d’etre, but the execs at Land Rover put the kibosh on that idea. From where I’m sitting high up in the Range Rover’s Command Seating Position, these hikers are the fools — we’re the geniuses. Or so it seemed at first, this enormous crater in front of us now summoning doubt in my resolve.

Given the Range Rover’s perennial superstar status, it’s not surprising past customers didn’t want Land Rover to change too much of their flagship vehicle. Their “Don’t change it, just make it better” request was Land Rover’s mantra as they rolled up their sleeves to re-imagine the fourth generation vehicle. Unlike many models that are rebuilt from the ground up, Land Rover kept its cash cow almost entirely intact — the biggest advancement being the use of an all aluminum chassis that dropped 700 lbs from its bloated scale. Exterior wise the SUV maintains form, playing a bit with the headlight design while growing wider, longer and a bit shorter. Of course you have to wonder if the minimal change was due to restricted engineering funds, or just a function of Range Rover’s market — a silver-haired contingency who prefers their change at a glacial rate.

Continue reading Luxury Off-Roading: Conquering Hog’s Canyon after the Jump…

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