One-Two Punch

Land Rover Range Rover

At first acquaintance, the new Land Rover Range Rover has the haughty bearing usually reserved for a Rolls-Royce. However, this blueblood chariot is engineered to get its feet muddy. But even though leather trim and enough xenon headlamp power to light a used-car lot are good for on-pavement panache, what matters is whether the Range Rover can muscle a load. To find out, I hitched it to a 24' runabout.

With a tow rating of 7,000 pounds, the Range Rover had no difficulty keeping my long 5,100-pound payload in line. The steering response is deliberately slow to avoid wobbles at speed. The high-riding body seems impervious to pitch and roll. A coordinated air suspension filters out harsh road realities before they disrupt the cabin.

Because the Range Rover's hood, doors, and front fenders are aluminum, it weighs less than similar luxury SUVs offered by Cadillac and Lincoln. It's also quicker on its feet-even with less power and torque. Thanks to astute engineering and a unified body and frame, the new Range Rover is stiffer and less susceptible to rattles than its predecessor.

Four-wheel drive is permanently engaged, and when necessary, electronic controllers will operate the brakes to aid traction. A low-range gear is available, but it's intended for off-road use. When here's a launch ramp at your disposal, even a bad one, a little gas-pedal assertiveness is all that's needed to translate from wet to dry.

Land Rover has resist-ed the temptation to cram in a third-row seat, so the Range Rover's cabin ambience is expansive, lavishly luxurious, and relaxed. Thanks to a large, boxy cargo hold, there's ample room for weekend paraphernalia, even with four or five passengers aboard.

MODEL Land Rover Range Rover
Engine 4.4-liter DOHC V-8
Net hp/rpm 282/5400
Net torque (ft-lb/rpm) 324/3600
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Suspension Front strut type, air springs
Suspension Rear control arms, air springs
Brakes (front/rear) disc/disc, standard ABS
Tires Goodyear Wrangler HP, 255/55HR-19
Wheelbase (in.) 113.4
Length (in.) 194.9
Width (in.) 77.0
Height (in.) 73.3
Curb weight (lbs.) 5,670
Towing capacity (lbs., max.) 7,000
Cargo capacity (max. cu. ft.) 19/62
Fuel capacity (gal.) 26.4
0-60 mph acceleration (without/with 5,100-lb. towed load, sec.) 8.4/16.7
60-0 mph stopping distance (without/with 5,100-lb. towed load, ft.) 138/240
Observed towing fuel economy (avg. mpg) 10
Price (as tested) $73,165

LAST WORD. The most luxurious and capable SUV on the planet.