It's been a big year for Britain's Land Rover, what with its Evoque being named North American Truck of the Year, and now comes an all-new Range Rover. The 2013 Range Rover arrives at Land Rover dealerships at the end of 2012.
The fourth-generation Range Rover won't deliver the visual shock that the much smaller Evoque did, but nonetheless it's an appealing update of the big SUV's familiar shape, and the attention to wind-cheating aerodynamic detail pays off in a number of ways. What's been done under the skin should be equally compelling considering the impact that will have on comfort, functionality and fuel efficiency.
There's been a big shift in the automotive world from traditional, truck-based sport-utility vehicles to car-like crossovers. The payoff is better mileage but usually at the sacrifice of off-road capabilities. The 2014 Range Rover will remain a classic truck-truck, but Land Rover insists it has gone to great lengths to improve fuel economy and on-road drivability without limiting the go-anywhere functionality that long made the Range Rover the more lavishly equipped vehicle humping the Rubicon Trail.
For 2013, the Brits have migrated to an aluminum bodyshell, much like sibling brand Jaguar, that shaves body mass nearly 40 percent. Along with other weight-saving measures, that's helped Land Rover shave a stunning 700 pounds off the V8 model sold here in the U.S. and that will translate into better performance as well as improved mileage.
Meanwhile, the 2013 Range Rover delivers significant improvements in roominess, with a whopping 4.7 inches more rear legroom than on the previous version. The cabin, if anything, is even more luxurious than the previous-generation Range Rover, which set out to match the elegance and detail of competing British luxury sedans. Along with all the hand-stitched leather and carefully polished wood, you'll be able to order new massaging seats and even a champagne cooler in the back with the top-line Autobiography edition.
You can even order a 1700-watt, 29-speaker Meridian audio system if you're not worried about scaring the neighbors, or wildlife if you're heading off-road.
What's particularly surprising is that all this has been accomplished even while increasing the Range Rover's already impressive off-road capabilities. Wheel travel has increased significantly, while ground clearance is up almost an inch, to a hairsbreadth short of one foot, translating into the ability to clamber over even bigger boulders, or snow drifts if you're like most suburban owners. And if you're looking for a shortcut, the 2013 Range Rover's water fording maximum depth has been increased 20 percent, to 35 inches. Credit a new labyrinth engine breathing system tucked under the traditional clamshell hood.
The new model maintains the older Range Rover's Terrain Response system, a trick way of adjusting all sorts of vehicle settings, such as throttle and gearshifts, ride height and brake intervention systems, to deal with different road and weather conditions.
There will be two powertrain options in the U.S., at least initially. The base model is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 making 375 horsepower. You can upgrade to the supercharged version that will pump out 510 ponies. Land Rover officials contend the new model will deliver significantly better performance than before because of the reduction in weight and improved aerodynamics.
And while official government numbers haven't been released we can expect much better EPA ratings than the outgoing model's less than stellar 12 City, 18 Highway.
Land Rover said the 2013 Range Rover will start at an MSRP of $83,500. The top Autobiography model will retail for $130,950.