2013 Land Rover Range Rover Road Test Review
All new 2013 Land Rover Range Rover remains the ultimate ultra-luxury SUV
Scores High: Supremely capable off road, extremely confident on road, unmatched luxury appointments
Scores Low: Still a heavy vehicle despite recent weight loss, not for the faint of wallet
Total Car Score Analysis
With the 2013 Land Rover Range Rover, the venerable British brand has accomplished what every automaker tries to do (though few truly succeed) when redesigning an iconic model from the frame up. Specifically, they have retained all the visual nuances and driving sensations that make a Range Rover a Range Rover while also making it a more capable and more desirable SUV in every measurable way. The last few generations of Range Rover sat at the top of the luxury SUV mountain, both because of the premium features they offered and because they were the only ones capable of climbing to the top of said mountain. The 2013 Range Rover is more luxurious, more refined, more advanced and more capable than the outgoing model, placing it at the top of an even higher mountain, and even further above any competitors in the ultra luxury SUV segment.
While the Range Rover model has existed for over 43 years, the first-generation Range Rover didn’t arrive on U.S. shores until 1987. At the time it offered a distinctive style not shared by any other SUV. Land Rover worked to maintain the Range Rover’s trademark style during its second and third generation redesigns. This fourth-generation model continues the tradition of an upright stance, prominent headlights and a clamshell hood. If you look closely at the grille/headlight/hood arrangement you can see shades of the latest Ford Explorer (probably because both models had the same designer), but this is a minor issue that few, if any, folks will bother with. Regardless of individual design elements, it’s an attractive vehicle from every angle. It’s also the most aerodynamic Range Rover ever, with a 0.34 drag coefficient (a 10 percent improvement over the 2012 model).
The 2013 Range Rover’s Product Planner, Simon Turner, told us that beyond ensuring the Range Rover’s continued trademark look, the most critical element of this redesign involved its span of capabilities. It has to deliver, in his words, “whatever the customer wants to throw at it” while at the same time remaining “very much a luxury vehicle.”
These core areas are where the Range Rover team focused, and by incorporating the latest in advanced engineering they delivered on all fronts. For instance, the all-new unibody structure, along with the front and rear chassis architecture, is now comprised of aluminum instead of steel. This makes the U.S. version of the 2013 Range Rover approximately 700 pounds lighter than the previous model. At the same time, chassis strength and passenger protection is increased by incorporating two automotive firsts: the use of high-strength AC300 aluminum in key areas, and by pressing the entire Range Rover’s bodyside from a single piece of aluminum (the latter element reduces joints and assemblies while increasing structural integrity).
As you might expect, that kind of weight reduction benefits everything from acceleration and braking to fuel efficiency and handling. Combined with its re-engineered four-wheel air suspension, the new 2013 Range Rover offers unprecedented on-road ride quality and off-road capability. We experienced both in the mountains of northern Arizona as we drove along deserted highways, at speeds above 80 mph, before tackling rugged off-road trails west of Lake Powell. In either circumstance the Range Rover remained poised and placid.
This wide spectrum of driving capability comes from the Range Rover’s wide spectrum of available technologies, including Hill Descent Control (HDC), Hill Start Assist (HSA), Gradient Release Control (GRC) and an all-new version of Land Rover’s latest Terrain Response system, dubbed Terrain Response2. Terrain Response has offered multiple settings, like sand, snow or rock crawl, for years. Terrain Response2 adds an all-new “automatic” mode that instantly switches between these settings as needed. It’s this kind of advanced technology, paired with a suspension system that can articulate up to 10.2 inches in front and 12.2 inches at the rear, that allows the Range Rover to readily travel where few four-wheeled vehicles can go.
Off-road ability is great, but on-road driving is where most Range Rovers will spend most of their time. That’s when drivers will appreciate this luxury SUV’s Roll Stability Control and optional Dynamic Response active lean control technology. Even with 700 pounds removed the 2013 model still weighs approximately 5,000 pounds, depending on equipment. That much mass might sound like a handful on twisting mountain roads, but the active suspension and 5.0-liter, 375 horsepower engine (in the base Range Rover) give it a nimble and responsive demeanor, with zero-to-60 arriving in 6.5 seconds. Opt for the Range Rover Supercharged and the 5.0-liter jumps to 510 horsepower, with a zero-to-60 time of just 5.1 seconds. Both engines connect to an 8-speed automatic with standard paddle shifters. Fuel economy for the base 5.0-liter is rated at 14 city mpg, 20 highway mpg and 16 mpg in mixed driving, or 13/19/15 for the supercharged engine. Towing capacity for both models is 7,716 pounds.
Interior Design and Function
We have to give credit to Land Rover for adding in-cabin technology to the 2013 Range Rover while simultaneously reducing the level of visual clutter. A clean, straightforward dash houses the new digital instrument cluster and 8-inch central touchscreen. There’s an intuitive, three-dial climate control layout just below the touchscreen display, with the retractable shifter dial (or “puck”) and Terrain Response control layout housed on top of the center console. It’s worth noting that while the dash and center console area has been cleaned up, the level of steering-wheel-mounted controls has grown, with no less than 15 buttons facing the driver.
Driver -- and passenger -- comfort reaches a new level in the 2013 Range Rover. Every model includes supple leather seating surfaces, increased noise isolation technology and a 1.65-inch longer wheelbase that, combined with more efficient interior space utilization, gives rear seat riders an additional 4.7 inches of legroom. The rear seats also offer a manual or power recline feature, depending on model and specified option package.
Cargo space behind the second row of seats is 32.1 cubic feet, but this expands to 71.7 cubic feet when the second row is folded flat. There’s an impressive 19.4 cubic feet of additional storage under the luggage cover in the cargo area, but we were more intrigued by the traditional split tailgate that is now power operated on all 2013 Range Rovers. The tailgate can be remotely opened and closed via the key fob or dash-mounted buttons.
Primary Features and Options
A vast array of luxury and convenience options can be added to the base Range Rover, which starts at $83,545 and includes leather seats, three-zone climate control, voice control, front parking assist with visual display, keyless entry, Bluetooth connectivity, a 325-watt Meridian audio system and 19-inch wheels. The Range Rover HSE starts at $88,545 and adds a panoramic sunroof as well as upgraded interior materials. The Supercharged model starts at $99,995 and includes the more powerful engine along with 21-inch wheels, Dynamic Response suspension technology and a bright pedal finish. An 825-watt, 19-speaker Meridian audio system is optional on any of these models, as is a rear entertainment system with twin, headrest-mounted display screens. The Supercharged model can also be upgraded to 22-inch wheels.
The top-of-the-line Range Rover Autobiography starts at $130,995 and includes 18-way power front seats with massage and heating and cooling, additional interior trim and wood veneer options, rear park assist, soft door close and adaptive cruise control. A no-cost option on the Autobiography, called the “Executive Seating” package, swaps the three-passenger bench for two individual rear bucket seats with 20-way power controls and heating, cooling and massage features, plus a full center console between the seats with dual-zone climate controls (for a total of four-zone control within the cabin). The Autobiography can also be ordered with an optional 1700-watt, 29-speaker 3D Meridian audio system that is, quite simply, the best automotive audio system we’ve ever experienced.
It’s Perfect For…
The “do it all vehicle” is a common claim among premium automakers, with several of them effectively backing it up. But when it comes to the ultimate level of off-road capability AND an unmatched degree of on-road luxury and refinement, the 2013 Land Rover Range Rover is without peer. For buyers with the economic means to purchase a no-compromise, ultra-luxury SUV the new Range Rover (particularly in Autobiography form) won’t disappoint.
Vehicle Tested: 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged
Base MSRP of Test Vehicle: $99,100
Options on Test Vehicle: Premium Audio (includes 19-speaker, 825-watt surround sound audio -- $1,850), Front and Rear Climate Comfort Package (includes 4-zone climate control, solar attenuating glass on windshield, massaging and climate controlled front seats, front cooler box in center console, rear climate controlled and power reclining seats -- $4,150), Park Assist ($650), Rear Seat Entertainment (includes 2 headrest-mounted displays with touchscreen remote control, 2 wireless headphones -- $2,400), Soft Door Close ($600), Premium Paint ($1,800), Vision Assist Package (includes surround camera system, high beam assist, adaptive front lights, blind spot monitor, cross-traffic alert -- $1,550), Shadow Walnut Veneer ($1,510), Heated Leather Steering Wheel ($425), Destination Charge ($895)
MSRP of Test Vehicle (including destination charge): $114,930
The manufacturer provided Total Car Score this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Photos Courtesy of Land Rover North America (with additional photography by Total Car Score)