Few brands in the modern carscape enjoy the dichotomous image that Land Rover’s Range Rover so expertly exudes. At its core a go anywhere, climb anything, traverse all conceivable topographies utility vehicle, somehow the Range Rover manages to look as at home dropping celebrities onto red carpets as it does traversing the Kalahari with weeks worth of consumables strapped to the roof. How they have managed to pull off such a feat largely remains a mystery that has driven marketing professors mad for years and kept the competition guessing for equally long, but it does ensure one thing – each successive Range Rover design is more impressive than the last, both in staggering off-road confidence and opulent luxury. So why should the 2011 Range Rover HSE be any different?
Last year’s redesign resulted in a few subtle exterior changes, but the big modifications could be found under its skin. A new 5.0-liter direct injection V-8 engine now provides performance virtually indistinguishable from that of the old supercharged unit, while the suspension measures road response 500 times per second and has the ability to adjust up to 100 times per second. Interior refinements include a simplified dash layout and a 12-inch TFT all-digital dash. Plus, you can still drive it up (and down) just about anything. Of course, if that’s not enough, there’s always the 510 hp supercharged model.
What's to Like
Styling is eye-catching, and the interior is plush. The 12-inch screen is the largest in the industry and can provide drivers with useful off-road information such as differential lockup and vertical wheel travel. The increased low-end torque of the new engine fits the chassis and its off-road demeanor well. There are only ten options offered for the vehicle, which really simplifies the buying process.
What's Not to Like
This is a Range Rover, and the price tag reflects its name as much as it does the luxury. The navigation system is woefully hard to use, and its functionality is subpar. It’s difficult not to laugh at fuel economy consumption numbers that never escape the high teens, in this case 12 mpg city, 18 mpg highway. Blame the bulbous 5,697 lb curb weight. Cargo capacity is also down on some of its larger competitors.
The Drive: Driving Impressions
Luxurious and massive, the Range Rover is like a limousine jacked up on stilts. The steering is quite light and feels slightly disconnected – perhaps hinting at its disposition for off-road antics – but it’s accurate, making the massive Range Rover easily placeable on roads. Adjustable air ride suspension floats over imperfections in the road with ease, and with 9...