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2006 Land Rover Range Rover review

October 19, 2005 02:02 PM EST | Land Rover , SUV's | Email to Friend

View large imageAs before, the Range Rover offers a satisfying blend of on-road comfort and off-road capability in a stylish and well-trimmed package, and this year's Supercharged model adds more performance to the mix. If you can afford the price of admission, this is one luxury SUV that won't disappoint.

Pros
Powerful performance with Supercharged model, comfortable ride and handling on and off the pavement, classy yet rugged interior, spacious backseat, high level of off-road capability.

Cons
High price, cabin ergonomics still aren't the best, a few low-grade interior materials.

What's New for 2006
A pair of Jaguar-sourced V8s replaces the BMW unit in the engine bay. One is a 4.4-liter mill with 305 horsepower and the other is a supercharged 4.2 pumping out 400 ponies. Other updates include a slightly revised grille, side vents and lights (front and rear), as well as new wheel choices. Laminated front side windows and revised A-pillars give a quieter ride, while new features such as a rear camera (for park assist) and adaptive headlights increase the luxury quotient.

Introduction:
When you consider how mediocre Land Rover products were during the 1990s, the fact that throngs of people continued to covet them speaks volumes about the power of the company's image. A 2003 redesign of the flagship Range Rover (only the third such makeover in the nameplate's three decades) marked a turning point, however, and the move upward continued with the 2005 debut of the midline LR3. The current-generation Range Rover is vastly superior to previous models and still carries on the proud off-road tradition of its predecessors. A short historical background: born of the need to compete with the Jeep, the first Land Rover tromped around its native habitat of Wales in 1947, before being linked with exotic safaris in British colonies. The Range Rover, a more civilized version, came into being in 1970, and was introduced to American shores in 1987. In 1994, BMW thought it would be a good idea to buy Land Rover in order to gain entry into the lucrative high-end sport-utility market, but the acquisition proved to be expensively unfruitful. In order to cut its losses, the company unloaded Land Rover to Ford in 2000. During its short ownership period, however, BMW completed a significant amount of engineering work on this latest Range Rover. If you're thinking this short-lived relationship with the venerable German automaker will increase your chances of getting a solid product, you are correct. The current-generation Range Rover feels very much like a BMW, though as of 2006 the power under the bonnet is sourced from cousin Jaguar, rather than BMW. None of the Range Rover's legendary boulder-bashing capability was lost in this translation; through a combination of technology and experience, the German-British development team created a world-class vehicle in this regard. In addition, the Range Rover has one of the most appealing, luxurious interiors of any vehicle, not to mention refined road manners, thanks to unibody construction and a new rack and pinion steering system. Add up all of the above and, in short, you've got one of the most desirable luxury sport-utility vehicles around.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The four-door Range Rover comes in two trims: HSE and Supercharged. The HSE is decked with a deep list of standard features that includes 19-inch wheels, high-intensity discharge headlights, three-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, wood trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 12-way power-adjustable driver seat, a 10-way power front-passenger seat, adaptive headlights, a Bluetooth connectivity and a rearview parking camera. The standard DVD-based navigation system uses a VGA display with touchscreen capability. Entertainment is provided by a 14-speaker, 710-watt Harman Kardon sound system. Step up to the Supercharged edition and you're rewarded with a 400-horsepower V8, 20-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers and leather Contour seats. The optional Luxury Interior Package offers amenities such as 16-way power contour seats with upgraded leather, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel and adaptive headlights. A rear-seat entertainment package adds a six-disc DVD changer with twin monitors mounted in the back of the front headrests.

Powertrains and Performance:
A pair of Jaguar V8s is now assigned Range Rover duty. The HSE gets a 4.4-liter with 305 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, while the Supercharged accordingly gets a supercharged 4.2-liter mill that boasts 400 hp and 420 lb-ft. The only transmission is a six-speed automatic, featuring a sequential-shift manual mode. Maximum towing capacity now stands at 7,700 pounds. A permanent four-wheel-drive system and a height-adjustable suspension are standard features, along with low-range gearing and a maximum of 11.1 inches of ground clearance for serious off-roading.

Safety:
Standard safety items include four-wheel antilock brakes, stability control, BrakeAssist, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, seat-mounted side airbags for front occupants, full-length side curtain airbags, and front and rear and parking sensors with a rearview camera.

Interior Design and Special Features:
Inside, the Range Rover's unique personality comes through, as it has the upscale ambience of a luxury SUV and the rugged feel of a serious off-road vehicle. Most materials are premium-grade, but there are a few out-of-character low-grade plastics. Buyers have their choice of cherry or walnut wood accents. The seating position is notably upright, but both front and rear passengers will find the accommodations supportive and roomy. Rear-seaters get their own climate controls and power-adjustable headrests. Don't expect too much by way of cargo space, though. The Range Rover falls short of its competitors in this area, offering a mere 63 cubic feet of capacity.

Driving Impressions:
Built for the bush but bought for bragging rights, Range Rovers are more likely to be found in Beverly Hills than Botswana. Acknowledging that reality, the current Range Rover employs a unibody design and has a self-adjusting air suspension that monitors vehicle loads and road conditions. When driven on pavement, the Range Rover feels stable and comfortable. In terms of boulder-bashing, it still has few equals, thanks to its generous ground clearance and wheel articulation.

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