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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.

The Range Rover can tow 8,3200 pounds and has up to 11.6 inches of ground clearance. And it has a mammoth 40.7 cubic foot cargo capacity, expanding to 83.5 cubic feet should you want to subject your pricey ride to schlepping stuff.

Of course, few conveyances have the breeding needed for ferrying royalty, CEOs, celebrities and other one-percenters as this all-terrain limousine. It's not a boulder basher but rather a sanctuary. Remarkably, it drives smaller than it is. Credit its rear-wheel steering makes for its agility and added stability. It makes for an unlikely, flingable, all-wheel drive box.

Tackling a mucky trail of wet goop, the Range Rover confronts it with the confidence and effortlessness you’d expect. Helpfully, cameras afford views in front and beside the vehicle, and the suspension adjusts to clear tall objects, ford three feet of water, or lower for high-speed highway cruising.

Of the two engines offered, the V-8 provides the smoother, silkier, effortless performance you’d expect of a luxury cruiser. The six-cylinder driveline is perfectly acceptable of course, but its mechanical movements are more apparent, but never intrusive.

 

All of this opulence doesn’t come cheap, but it’s not so pricey compared to some newcomers that don’t offer the rarefied and refined qualities of this newest Range Rover. Prices start at $104,500 for the short-wheelbase five-seat SE, and at $110,500 for the long wheelbase seven-seat SE. Opting for the V-8 requires ponying up $122,800 for a five-seat model, $128,800 with seven.

And just to confuse things further, the previous Range Rover that arrived in 2013 is still being sold as a 2022 model as well. Does it make sense? No, of course not.

But the Brits have cornered the market on offering outrageously opulent vehicles, and the all-new 2022 Range Rover is a prime example. You might not own an estate or some gentleman’s ranch out west. But you don’t have to in order to appreciate this SUV’s finest qualities.

2022 Range Rover P530 SWB

Base price: $164,000

Engine: Twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8

Horsepower/Torque: 523/553 pound-feet of torque

EPA fuel economy (city/highway): 16/21 mpg

Length/Width/Height: 199/81/74 inches

Ground clearance: 8.6-11.6 inches

Payload: 1,855 pounds

Cargo capacity: 40.7-83.5 cubic feet

Towing capacity: 8,200 pounds

©2022 Tribune Content Agency, LLC
 

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