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Auto review: The 2022 Range Rover is a sublime lesson in modernist reductive luxury design

Larry Printz, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

The problem with American luxury SUVs isn’t the lack of luxury; it’s that they don’t always go far enough. The opulence is there, but it’s particularly middlebrow, or what a middlebrow customer thinks a sophisticated type might want in their leather-lined wagon. None of them feel impeccably finished.

That’s something you can’t say about Land Rover’s Range Rover, a car that, confusingly, is both a model and a sub-brand. Land Rover offers the Range Rover in SE, Autobiography, First Edition and SV models with either a short or long wheelbase. All models seat four or five; three-row versions are offered as well if you must seat seven.

Go ahead, investigate every nook and cranny and you’ll find that Land Rover’s chief creative officer, Gerry McGovern, and his design staff have thoroughly and faultlessly designed every square meter of this vehicle. You won’t find any cut-rate materials; there aren’t any. And what you see is breathtakingly modern, reduced to its absolute essence, as brevity is the soul of luxury. It’s why a menu at a fine dining establishment may only have a choice of five entrees, while an inexpensive diner might have 35.

The design reductionism can be seen in its exterior execution, where unnecessary details have been eliminated and others are less noticeable, such as the flush door handles that pop out to greet you as you approach the car. The L-shaped metal visual cue on the side has been redesigned into a vertical embellishment, while the rear is far more distinctive. Here, a strong rectangular line serves as a visual element until the brakes are applied. That’s when you discover part of the visual cue is indeed lighting. Clever.

Inside, you’ll find a spacious throne room fit for royalty. Exquisitely finished, it exhibits the same modernist reductive design seen on the exterior. But if you desire the interior ambiance its wardrobe suggests, be sure to order the 35-speaker Meridian sound system, which comes with noise-canceling headrests. It may sound gimmicky, but they actually provide a noticeable amount of solitude of the vehicle’s interior. It’s silent with them, and noticeably noisier without them. As you might expect, wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa come standard, as does navigation, wireless smartphone charging, SiriusXM satellite radio, a 13.1-inch infotainment display and a 13.7-inch digital instrument cluster. Dual rear seat 11.4-inch infotainment screens are optional.

Of course, for those of you who don’t drive but are driven, you’ll want the long wheelbase SV, with its reclining rear seat, entertainment system, pop-up tray table and a refrigerator outfitted with custom crystal glasses. Indulgence is rarely this comfortable in an SUV.

 

When it comes time to drive, you’ll have a choice of two powertrains.

The base short wheelbase P400 SE comes with Land Rover’s turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder gas engine with a 48-volt hybrid system that delivers a satisfying 395 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. Optional on the SE and standard on other models is BMW’s twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 engine with a far healthier 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive, a terrain response system and an adaptive air suspension are standard.

A plug-in hybrid version arrives in 2023 delivering 434 horsepower and 62 miles of pure electric driving. A battery electric model follows in 2024.

Standard driver assistance safety systems include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, lane keeping assistance, traffic sign recognition, and parking assist.

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