A car that comes together as a cohesive premium package that looks and feels as posh as the price tag suggests.
In the world of ultimate luxury sport utility vehicles, few have the brand panache of the Range Rover. In existence for nearly fifty years, Land Rover’s flagship nameplate has often been associated as the best of the best when it comes to traversing the tricky stuff in style and comfort. While most buyers will hardly ever take their Range Rovers away from pavement, they are still respected as one of the better off-road vehicles straight out of the box. To put this idea to the test, we took a Santorini Black 2017 Range Rover Autobiography L (Long Wheelbase) out for a spin.
With an as-tested price of $162,350, the Autobiography in long wheelbase form was actually pretty much a base model. Outfitted with 22-inch six-spoke “Style 601” Diamond Turned finish wheels for $2,100 and Advanced Tow Assist for $250, the Range Rover still came about as well equipped as a vehicle north of $160,000 should be. It starts with the full complement of modern safety aids, including adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitor, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, and park assist. There’s a sliding panoramic roof, four-corner air suspension (that lowers for ingress and egress), 1700-watt Meridian Reference audio, rear window powered sun blinds, and 10-inch screens for rear seat entertainment.
If extra customization through a multitude of options tickles your fancy, there are countless paint choices ranging from no-extra-cost to $9,500 extra for shades such as Spectral British Racing Green (ChromaFlair) or Valloire White Pearl. The headliner can be finished in leather, and the rest of the interior can also be finished in a laundry list of shades – the test vehicle came in full black on black. A heated wood and leather steering wheel and a smoker’s package are also available.
On the inside, the Range Rover offers the ultimate in fit and finish, as well as attention to detail. While some of the switchgear is also existing from other Jaguar and Land Rover products, everything comes together with a substantial and general expensive feeling. The carpeting is extremely thick and soft, and seat comfort is wonderful on long trips. There’s also a massage function for front seat occupants!
To complement the top-notch interior, the Range Rover Autobiography also comes with Land Rover’s InControl infotainment. While it’s not the snazziest or best infotainment in the industry – menus aren’t the most intuitive – it does the job reasonably well. With regard to smartphone Bluetooth functions, at least a few users have reported hiccups pairing phones, or also keeping them paired after the fact. Thankfully, the 1700-Watt Meridian Reference sound system packs a huge punch, with ridiculously good clarity and power, and rivals the best of the best automotive sound systems today (Volvo’s Bowers & Wilkins, Lexus’ Mark Levinson, and even Genesis’ Lexicon).
On the road, whether the tunes are cranked or played softly, the Range Rover Autobiography is also a very quiet car. Wind and road noise are extremely well isolated, and feels more or less like a bank vault rocketing down the highway. With a minimum curb weight of 2,401 kilograms (5,293 pounds), there’s absolutely no reason that the Range Rover should handle like a sports car, but it does manage to hold its own in terms of confidently following steering inputs without excessive lean and loss of composure. It tackles all aspects of road-going like the most regal of monarchs – dignified, unruffled, and always commanding respect.
While this latest vehicle wasn’t tested off-road, other Range Rovers were tested on the trails late last year, and proved to be very impressive considering the pavement-going comfort levels. When the going gets tough, the All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) system continuously monitors suspension articulation, vehicle speed, and overall tilt angle in order to identify the best way forward in terms of modulating throttle and braking. It works between 2-to-30 kilometres per hour, and is intended to allow a driver to maintain full attention steering only, while the Range Rover takes care of the rest.
Powering the Range Rover Autobiography on test is a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine. Making 510 horsepower between 6,000 and 6,500RPM and 461 lb-ft. of torque between 2,500 and 5,500RPM, the eight-cylinder mill is able to move things along at a breakneck pace and a great roaring soundtrack. The supercharging allows for ample amounts of low-end torque, which also happens to stay strong right through the rev range. Combined with excellent traction with power being sent to all four wheels with electronic control, the jump off the line is more like a cheetah, even when considering the elephant-like curb weight. Land Rover states that the spring to 100 kilometres per hours arrives in a mere 5.5 seconds. For more sedate driving, the engine remains smooth and unlaboured, further adding to the buttery luxury goodness.
On the transmission front, an eight-speed automatic transmission does duty in the Range. Manufactured by German gearbox manufacturer ZF, it’s similar to longitudinally-mounted transmissions seen in other Jaguar Land Rover products, as well in cars made by anybody from BMW to Fiat Chrysler. Each manufacturer has their own calibration, however, and in the Range Rover, the tweaking is definitely geared more towards comfort over performance. Even so, shifts are crisp and authoritative, allowing for uninterrupted power in between gear shifts with no hunting involved.
With such a high curb weight and 510 peak horsepower, one might expect the V8-powered Range Rover to return abysmal fuel economy. Rated numbers don’t look particularly good, with 17.2L/100KM in the city and 12.5L/100KM on the highway. For those who have the budget to buy one of these, that may not be too big an issue. At the end of the week, somehow, observed fuel economy managed to trump both numbers, with 11.3L/100KM over mostly highway driving and more than enough supercharger use to suggest a higher figure. Fuel tank capacity is 105 litres of premium octane gasoline. Customers who are a little more energy cost conscious can also consider an available 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel V6, which will be significantly more frugal at the pump while still offering good torque response.
All in all, the 2017 Range Rover Autobiography (Long Wheelbase) totally demonstrated its authority in the luxury sport utility vehicle market during its week on test in the DoubleClutch.ca garage. Land Rover has built a car that comes together as a cohesive premium package that looks and feels as posh as the price tag suggests. There’s supreme excess where it counts, such as in the fire-breather 5.0-litre supercharged V8, and it remains subdued and classy in other areas, such as the lush interior. Buyers who want even more performance and equipment can turn to the 550-horsepower SVAutobiography. In any case, if money is no object, the Range Rover reigns supreme.