Mass Appeal’s Willie G. bombs through the American Southwest in the all-new 2013 Range Rover
By the time I get to Arizona, I’m itching to open ‘er up. Pressing the sole of my boot to a half-inch from the floorboard, I glance at the digitized speedometer needle climbing in my lower periphery. One hundred and twenty feels like butter, but between high-speed emissions and a fluffy white carbon plume from the nearby Glen Canyon powerplant, I figure I better go easy before we spot a weeping Native American on the roadside; or flashing lights. It’s at this moment one of my LA-based driving partners mentions how we’re in the perfect locale for avoiding a “Walking Dead” pandemic. Sweet Baby Tebow, here we go again with the damn zombies.
Whatever, right now I’m living. The vehicle for my desert jaunt is a Luxor-silver Range Rover; Land Rover’s fourth iteration of the most iconic SUV these Cali cats, a New Yorker like myself, or possibly even the world has ever known. All-new for 2013, the complete overhaul has rendered the Range lighter, stronger, and more rugged than its predecessors, but you combatants to change can relax. The tweaking hasn’t put so much as a kink in the DNA that’s consistently delivered a fascination from the ‘hood to the Hills.
As usual, the driver’s area of the Rover is more of a command post than seat; while its immediate surroundings dance to an amplified exercise in dichotomy. Below my feet sits a monstrous rubber floor mat, with sidewalls steep enough to catch stacks on stacks of clay, snow or gravel; yet through my clutch arcs a grip of wood-grain so polished and pure, it could have an H-town king breaking up with his Cadillac. Function here, form there; am I going fishing with the fellas, or out for sushi with my boo? Yes.
It’s this Harvey Dent-ish face of the truck’s personality – a trait which Land Rover seems to further hone in on each generation – that has made the current model a player with no clear-cut competition. OK, so a 600 ‘Benz may be the slightest touch more lavish, but pushing it on a weekend to the slopes may leave you, well, pushing it. And though a Wrangler is a proven outdoorsman in its own right, is a Jeep really what you want to roll up to the Grammys in? To sum it up, the Range Rover is still the automotive parallel of the same damn ‘Lo sweater, keeping you laced no matter what the environment.
But lest that cooked-up comparison has you thinking of something tired and frayed, snap out of it. From a styling perspective, the new Range is still that old familiar wear, but brandishes just the right amount of tailoring to keep it runway chic. All the elements you’ve come to covet – the “floating roof”, shark-gill fenders, and perforated grille – are still there; they’re just nestled among some sleeker, squattier design lines. Rounded out with the requisite jeweled LED head and tail-lamps, the 2013 is officially the most aerodynamic Range Rover ever, and certainly drives like it. High speeds come hard and fast, thanks to the available supercharged V8, but the trucks stability is unwavering, even in twists of highway ribbon. A fully-independent, air-spring suspension minimizes the vehicle’s body roll, allowing you to power through turns that would brush other SUVs off their shoulder like dirt. (And that ain’t all it’s good for.)
As we exit the town of Kenab, Utah, the LA dudes are talking about watches and Russian girlfriends. I can’t relate; though I can with the cliff of rock and mud that soon faces us at our waypoint. Joined by one of Land Rover’s accredited driving instructors, we’re now at the point of the journey where things could get dicey. I’ve been here before and know I’m in good hands. I know that this $100K flagship of a vehicle will dance up these treacherous hills more gracefully than Julie Andrews. Still, it’s a lot to think about; less though, thanks in part to the brand’s new Terrain Response® 2. Utilizing on-board vehicle sensors, this revised system now has the ability to automatically switch between five settings (general, grass/gravel/snow; mud/ruts; sand; and rock crawl) and overcome almost any obstacle or plague in sight. Darting up the loose landscape, I could still assume manual control of the system, but I don’t feel the need. It’s also now that the unibody aluminum frame and 700lb. weight savings over the outgoing model are extremely noticeable. King of the hill once again, it’s time to let the Cali fellas take a stab. They get barked at a tad by our guide, but still manage to keep us among the living.
I’m now comfortably sprawled out in back – rear seat reclined as we rocket back towards civilization. From sand to tarmac, mud to snow, it’s been a day of extremes in a horsepower carriage that’s chomped the bit every inch of the way. Toying with a satellite phone that’s been supplied to our group (you know, just in case), it hits me how at this moment, I could easily role-play as any number of sensationalized entities; baller, LinkedIn influencer, Bond villain – hell, even zombie hunter. “Quite the range,” I think to myself. Quite the Range indeed.
Lord have mercy. Are these dudes really talking about spa facials now?
2013 Land Rover Range Rover
Engine: Supercharged V8 (optional, as tested)
Power: 510hp, 461 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 13 City/19 Highway
Price as Tested: $111,620