Friday, November 16, 2007

Land Rover Range Rover Sport


Forty-some years ago, a famous Land Rover magazine ad tallied the record number of times one of these stalwart vehicles had been gored by a Rhinoceros: "If you know of a Land Rover that has been gored more times, or by more Rhinoceroses, please contact us. . . ." The ad was deliberate camp, and a blatant parody of a famous Rolls-Royce ad of the same period. But its point was clear, and essentially true: If you needed to drive where Rhinoceros encounters were a genuine possibility, then the Land Rover was your baby. Whereas if quiet highway cruising was your goal, well then, old boy, you might do as well to shop elsewhere.

Four decades later, Rhinoceroses are still rarely encountered in upmarket suburbs; whereas comfortable, competent, even sporty SUV-like vehicles such as the BMW X5, Cadillac SRX, Infiniti FX, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, and Porsche Cayenne frequently are. And competition from these vehicles, more than the occasional large horn driven angrily through an aluminum door, constitutes the biggest threat to Land Rover's territorial dominance.

So just last year (2006) Land Rover released the all-new Range Rover Sport: Spirited, sporty, agile, with a snazzy look. (OK, maybe not all that snazzy, but for a Range Rover, it's snazzy.) And frankly more comfortable on the road than off.

Range Rover Sport also plugs a gap in the Land Rover model range, between the full-size, hyper-expensive Range Rover and the entry-level, family-friendly LR3. Range Rover Sport is in fact built on a mechanical platform derived from the LR3, but with a shorter wheelbase that emphasizes handling over seven-passenger capacity. Sport also costs a solid $20,000 less than the full-size Range Rover, but only about $4,000 more than a fully equipped LR3.

New for 2007: Standard equipment levels are improved with the addition of a Personal Telephone Integration System with Bluetooth capability, and one-touch power window operation at the front passenger's position. The Dynamic Response System, exclusive to the Supercharged model last year, is now available (along with Brembo disc brakes) on the HSE. Supercharged Sports now come standard with Sirius Satellite Radio; and with a choice of Line Oak or Cherry interior wood, Lux or Sport leather, and standard or Stormer 20-inch wheels.

Model Lineup

Land Rover makes shopping for the Range Rover Sport easy. Just two versions are available, the HSE ($57,235) and the Supercharged ($70,535). The HSE comes with a 300-horsepower, 4.4-liter V8. Not surprisingly, the Supercharged has a supercharged V8 displacing 4.2 liters and making 390 horsepower. Both engines drive through the same six-speed CommandShift automatic that's also fitted in the top-of-the-line Range Rover. Full-time four-wheel drive with a two-speed, shift-on-the-fly, electronic transfer case is standard, as is an electronically controlled, locking center differential. Optional is a rear differential lock ($500).

Standard amenities include dual-zone, automatic climate control; cruise control; eight-way power front seats; power outside mirrors, central locks and windows (now with one-touch operation from the front passenger's position); three memory settings for driver's seat and mirrors; digital, 13-speaker, surround-sound AM/FM/CD stereo with six-disc, in-dash changer and auxiliary audio inputs; sunroof; front and rear park assist; five function-programmable key fob; a new Personal Telephone Integration System with Bluetooth capability; and a DVD-based GPS navigation system with voice recognition and dash-mounted, seven-inch, touch-screen LCD display incorporating a picture-in-picture monitor of 4X4 settings and status.

Ride and handling features include Dynamic Stability Control and Active Roll Mitigation, which combine to heighten directional control and rollover resistance; Hill Descent Control, which automatically applies appropriate braking on steep downhill inclines; Terrain Response, a manually selectable set of four pre-programmed suspension and engine management settings for various off-road conditions; and, of course, Land Rover's trademark load-leveling, height-adjustable air suspension.

Options for HSE include a rear-seat entertainment system ($2,500) consisting of two displays integrated into the back sides of the front seat head restraints, a six-disc CD changer, touchscreen interface, two wireless head sets and a wireless remote control; Sirius Satellite Radio ($400 plus subscription fee); and 20-inch alloy wheels ($4,000).

There's also a Cold Climate package ($1,300) with heated seats all 'round and heated windshield and washer jets; a Luxury Package ($3,000), with upgraded leather upholstery, cherry wood trim, a center console cool box, the Cold Climate package, and adaptive headlights that pivot when you turn the steering wheel; and a Dynamic Response Package ($2,000) that combines Brembo front brakes with the Dynamic Response System, which electronically adjusts the stabilizer bars for optimal cornering.

The Supercharged model, or S/C, comes standard with everything on the HSE plus the Luxury, Cold Climate, and Dynamic Response packages; Sirius Satellite Radio; and 20-inch alloy wheels. Stormer alloys of equal size are an exclusive S/C option ($1,000), as is Adaptive Cruise Control ($2,000). S/C buyers can choose Lined Oak or Cherry wood interior trim, and Lux or Sport leather with no extra charge for either. Otherwise, the S/C offers the same options (at the same prices) as the HSE.

Safety features on the Range Rover Sport comprise twin, dual-stage front airbags; front seat-mounted side airbags for torso protection; full-coverage side curtain airbags to protect against head injury in side-impacts and rollovers; child safety seat anchors (LATCH); antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist; and all-terrain traction control.

Land Rover Range Rover


The Range Rover has been extensively revised for the 2007 model year. The cabin has been redesigned for increased comfort and ease of use and new safety features have been added. Off-road and on-road capability have been enhanced with Land Rover's new Terrain Response system, which makes venturing away from pavement even easier than before. The Range Rover benefitted from new engines and transmissions for 2006.

These changes, which coincide with the 20th anniversary of Range Rover's presence in the American automotive market, continue to improve on what remains the ultimate luxury sport-utility. This top-of-the-line Land Rover offers authentic all-terrain capability combined with a beautiful European-flavor cabin and the latest in safety features.

The 2007 Range Rover is quieter and more comfortable and easier to operate. The cabin benefits from new switchgear, revised air conditioning, redesigned seats and increased noise-reduction measures. Redesigned airbags further improve its safety. Modeled after luxury yachts with gorgeous wood trim and rich leather, the Range Rover cabin is a comfortable place to be.

Driving a Range Rover makes you feel good. It's quiet, smooth and poised on the road or off and makes its occupants feel classy and sophisticated at the same time. It's one of the best luxury vehicles available, counting cars. The Range Rover remains an exclusive vehicle, further adding to its class and panache. It also represents quite a step up from the Range Rover Sport, in our view. It's the ultimate in luxury SUVs.

Exemplary service is also part of the Range Rover experience. Surveys indicate customers are highly satisfied with their Land Rover retailers who pride themselves with taking care of their customers. Our anecdotal evidence backs that up. The Land Rover Centres go beyond those of the typical car dealership, acting as off-road outfitters. They carry accessories and apparel and organize outings. Land Rover's four-year/50,000 mile warranty includes roadside assistance (even where there's no road) and free scheduled maintenance.

Model Lineup

The 2007 Range Rover comes in two trim levels, the HSE ($76,535) and Supercharged ($92,035). The HSE is powered by a 305-hp, 4.4-liter V8 engine. The Supercharged gets a 400-hp, 4.2-liter V8.

Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Both also feature permanent four-wheel-drive with a two-speed transfer case and electronic Torsen center differential, all-terrain traction and stability control, Hill Descent Control and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, and now Land Rover's Terrain Response technology.

The HSE comes with three-zone climate control, a 12-way power driver's seat with three memory settings for seat, tilt-and-telescope steering wheel and outside mirrors; 10-way power front passenger's seat; rain-sensing automatic windshield wipers; and voice-control, DVD-based GPS navigation and Harman/Kardon digital surround-sound system with six-disc CD changer and 14 speakers, and Sirius satellite radio (subscription required). Nine exterior colors and six interior pallets are available to choose from.

Options include the Luxury Interior Package ($5,000) with premium leather seating surfaces and dash, 14-way power seats with inflatable lumbar support for the driver and front passenger, cooled-air ventilated front seats, choice of light or dark 12-piece wood trim, adaptive front lighting, auto dimming exterior mirrors and a cargo net. Seven-spoke, 20-inch alloy wheels with a full-size spare are available ($4000). Also available is an electronically controlled infinitely variable locking rear differential ($500). A DVD-based rear-seat entertainment system ($2,500) is optional.

The Supercharged comes with everything in the Luxury Interior Package, plus 20-inch bright-finish aluminum wheels and the locking rear differential. Brakes are upgraded with Brembo calipers in front and vented discs all 'round, in place of the HSE's vented/solid setup. In addition to the HSE's paint and interior choices, two monochromatic interior pallets and an exclusive Grand Black Lacquer wood trim are offered, as are the entertainment package. Brake and accelerator pedals are stainless steel with rubberized inserts.

Safety equipment on all Range Rovers is comprehensive. Nine airbags come standard: front, side, and head airbags for driver and front-seat passenger, as well as head and seat-mounted side airbags for rear outboard passengers, and a special airbag designed to protect the driver's knees. That's in addition to the many active safety features. Also standard are front and rear park distance control and a rearview color television camera, both extremely helpful when backing up, and tire pressure monitors. Security is also a high priority, which means deadlocks and an ultrasonic alarm system. A panic button activates locks for extra security against attacks.

Land Rover LR3


The LR3 in an impressive achievement. While other mid-luxury SUVs are surrendering off-road competence, the LR3 continues to combine responsive on-road performance with go-anywhere off-road capability in a single comfortable, safe and secure vehicle.

The LR3 offers the competence of the Range Rover and some of its luxurious feel. Underway, the LR3 feels composed and secure, with little noise and vibration transmitted into the cabin. The brakes are excellent. The LR3 incorporates the latest in electronic systems, which select the best combination of traction, power, gearing, and braking to suit any type of terrain and surface, to put serious off-road trekking within the reach of most enthusiasts. Simply twisting a knob to Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand, or Rock Crawl optimizes the settings for the LR3's mind-boggling array of electronic controls and traction aids. In short, the LR3 can go just about anywhere on the planet. And it does it in style.

The LR3 has a spacious, airy cabin with comfortable seats and intuitive controls. It can seat up to seven passengers with the optional third row, and the seats fold flat into the floor individually, making this a versatile utility vehicle.

The LR3 comes with a choice of V6 and V8 engines. For 2007, Land Rover has added more standard equipment for the V6, including leather upholstery, a power lumbar adjuster for the driver's seat, a power glass sunroof, and a 240-watt Harman/Kardon stereo with steering-wheel controls. The 4.0-liter, all-aluminum V6 produces 216 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque.

The V8 is a 4.4-liter engine from Jaguar that, with variable cam phasing, develops 300 horsepower and delivers strong throttle response with 315 pound-feet of torque. The third-row seat and rear-seat heating and air conditioning are standard on all V8 models.

All models come with a six-speed automatic transmission, two-speed transfer case and permanent four-wheel drive. The LR3 comes with a remote-controlled rear suspension height adjuster that's useful for towing. A dealer-installed Class III hitch gives the LR3 a 7700-pound tow rating.

Model Lineup

The 2007 Land Rover LR3 is available in V6 SE ($41,435), V8 SE ($48,235) and HSE ($53,235) trim levels. The V6 SE is powered by a 4.0-liter engine, while the V8 SE and HSE feature a 4.4-liter V8. Trim in the V6 is basic, though Land Rover hasn't stinted on equipment or capabilities.

Safety equipment standard across the line includes four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, and emergency Brake Assist. Seven-seat models come with eight airbags; five-seat models come with six airbags.

For 2007, all models are equipped with leather upholstery. Also standard: dual-zone automatic climate control; driver's seat power lumbar adjuster; power glass sunroof; power-adjustable heated exterior mirrors; cruise control; programmable key fob; and a folding second-row seat, split 65/35 in five-seat LR3s and 35/30/35 in seven-seat models. A three-flash lane-change feature has been added to the turn signal switch. Standard audio in the V6 SE is now the previously optional 240-watt Harmon/Kardon unit with nine speakers, a six-disc in-dash CD changer, and steering wheel controls. Also standard are 18-inch aluminum rims (re-styled for '07) with 255/60HR18 mud-and-snow radials.

Options for the V6 SE include a third-row seating package ($2,200) with second-row AC and heating controls; additional second and third-row AC and heat outlets; third-row side-curtain airbags, map lights, and accessory power outlet; a rear luggage net; and an additional front cupholder.

The V8 SE adds standard seating for seven with auxiliary rear climate control; plus fog lights, rear Park Distance Control, headlight washers, rain sensing wipers, auto-dimming inside rear-view mirror, Homelink garage door opener, and puddle and footwell lights. An optional Technology Package ($3,500) includes the navigation system, telephone integration system, Sirius Satellite Radio, and a cooler box in the center console. Another V8 SE package combines bi-xenon headlights with front Park Distance Control ($750).

The HSE adds GPS/DVD on/off-road navigation with voice-activation and touch-screen capabilities, a Personal Telephone Integration system with console cradle and Bluetooth connectivity, bi-xenon headlights, and a Park Distance Control system that operates in both the front and rear. HSE also upgrades to a 550-watt Harman/Kardon Logic7 digital surround-sound system with 14 speakers, second and third row personal remote audio outputs, and auxiliary iPod jack; and 255/55HR19 mud-and-snow radials on 19-inch wheels. A Luxury Package ($1,750) combines the Cold Climate Package with a center console cooler box and adaptive front lighting. HSE buyers can also add Sirius Satellite Radio ($400).

Options for all models include a Cold Climate Package ($1,300) consisting of dual-stage heated seats in the first and second rows, heated windshield, and heated windshield washers. Also available on all models is a Heavy-Duty Package ($625) that combines an active locking rear differential with a full-size spare tire on its own aluminum-alloy wheel. Stand-alone options include personal telephone integration with Sirius Satellite Radio ($800) and Java Black Pearl paint ($400).

2008 Land Rover LR2


If the Land Rover LR2 doesn't knock the socks off of shoppers for an SUV of this size and price, nothing will. It offers more content than they have reason to expect, compared to what's out there. Think of it as a baby Range Rover Sport, for at least 20 grand less. It costs about $8,000 less than the next Land Rover up the scale, the LR3, and has a more powerful and smoother engine: an all-new, high-tech, inline six-cylinder built by Volvo, mated to a sophisticated six-speed automatic transmission.

The styling is clean and handsome, and the interior roomy, with leather seating surfaces, wood trim, a panoramic sunroof, fold-flat rear seats, quality sound system and all the power stuff as standard equipment. The body structure is second to none in its rigidity and safety, with liberal use of ultra-high-strength steel in the door beams and other places. The list of electronic safeguards goes on and on. ABS, EBD, EBA, DSC, ARM, CBC, HDC, GRC (they're all explained below; each could save your life, or at the least keep the vehicle under control far better than any human). Also Terrain Response, with four settings for different driving conditions: pavement; gravel, grass and snow; mud and ruts; or sand.

The long-travel suspension uses all the acquired knowledge of Land Rover engineers, and delivers a firm and stable ride in all conditions, while providing superlative cornering for an SUV that's 68.5 inches high. The vented disc brakes are big and bomb-proof. The traction system is made by Haldex, the leader in all-wheel-drive design, and it's state of the art: electronic rather than hydraulic, making it faster and more sensitive than anything that's ever found its way into an SUV.

The Land Rover LR2 has it all, for a five-seat SUV.

Model Lineup

The only decisions to make in buying a Land Rover LR2 are about options; there is only one model, the LR2 that retails for $34,700 including $715 freight; Land Rover doesn't price the LR2 at a lower-sounding $33,985 plus freight. That price includes all the comfort and capability you expect from a Land Rover.

Standard features include leather seats, air conditioning, power doors, windows and remote entry, keyless starter button, panoramic dual panel sunroof, front and rear foglamps, power headlamp washers, rain-sensing wipers, rear park distance control, 18-inch alloy wheels, and dual-zone climate control with pollen filter and humidity sensor.

The Technology Package ($3500) includes a DVD-based navigation system, Dolby Pro Logic II Surround Sound system, Sirius satellite radio, rear seat audio controls and Bluetooth telephone system. The Lighting Package ($1050) includes bi-Xenon adaptive headlamps (they swivel in the direction of turns), approach and puddle lights, and a memory driver seat and mirrors. The Cold Climate Package ($700) includes heated front seats and a heated windshield and washer jets. You can also get a special Narvik Black paint job ($400).

Safety equipment includes electronic stability control with anti-roll technology, and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist. There are seven airbags: two-stage frontal bags, side-impact bags for the front seats, airbag curtains for both rows, and a final small airbag for the driver's knees. There's also Hill Descent Control, which keeps the vehicle at six mph going down steep hills (even, or especially, on ice), and Gradient Release Control, which holds the vehicle on a steep hill for a moment before letting it creep up to that speed. All that's lacking in the safety equipment is a tire pressure monitor.