Experience the Driver’s Seat: Range Rover Supercharged

The whoop-de-doo of piloting a Land Rover once came from cranking the bruiser off-road or fearlessly charging through headlight-high water.

The current Range Rover supercharged long wheelbase generates thrills just standing still. Looking sexier than any chiseled, slab-sided conveyance has a right to, the stretched Range Rover engages the senses, from its elegant, refined cabin to the 12.3-inch LCD user-customizable virtual instrument panel or the slick mood lighting that calls to mind the aqua illumination in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. For gulps of seashore air, stargazing or skyline watching, the ginormous panoramic sliding sunroof is a magic portal. Prefer things low-key? Keep the roof closed and activate the rear-powered window shades.

The 122.8 inches between its wheels give the second row occupants 7.3 more inches to stretch their legs and watch the video screens that are installed on the back of the front headrests. If you don’t need a bench seat, the executive-seating option provides the pampered passengers a beautifully crafted center console of their own. The seatbacks offer up to 17 degrees of tilt. Decadent.

The Range Rover Supercharged may be a hundred grand once all the coolest must-have stuff is added, but it’s still game to go off-road with standard full-time four-wheel drive, two-speed transfer case and the newest version of Land Rover’s terrain response, which adds automatic optimization for snow, mud, sand, general road surfaces or rock/crawl mode for extremely uneven ground.

Off-roaders and tech geeks will get a rise out of the air suspension at all four corners. It automatically rises or lowers for entry and exit and for street or highway cruising; the driver can also manually change the ride height. When it comes to fording water, this latest Range Rover stands tall: It’s rated to wade through water nearly 3 feet, thanks to a repositioned engine air intake. At the other end of the 204.7-inch SUV, cargo handling is much easier, thanks to the powered bisected tailgate. The independent upper and lower doors are both clever and practical.

The Range Rover drives like a dream. Sure, the supercharged V8 generates up to 510 horsepower, but credit is also due to the extensive use of aluminum (up to three-fourths of which is derived from recycling) for the SUV’s skeleton, body, suspension and hood, which has kept the official curb weight to 5,320 pounds—that’s right about where a half-ton crew cab pickup tips the scales. On road, the beautiful beast moves with silky authority, permitting driver and passengers to appreciate the 380 watts of sonic power running the Meridian audio system’s 13 speakers.

When it comes time to trip the light fantastic, a rock-paper scissors duel may be needed to settle who gets to drive this alloy machine. Just remember that luxurious second-row concierge lounge makes a heck of a consolation prize.

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