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2010 Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged

All Things To All Men

      Our review of the 2007 Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged wasn’t exactly a glowing compilation of superlatives and conjunction. In fact, it emphasized several things that the Rover didn’t do well. So now that Land Rover has stepped out from the corporate umbrella of Ford Motor Company and into the tent of Tata, the manufacturer of the world’s cheapest car (the Tata Nano), does the proud Range Rover stand a chance of making it back to the position of its former glory?
      The chief complaint regarding the previous Range Rover was that it made 400 hp feel slow. We won’t lay all of the fault on the engine, since the aged Jaguar 4.2L supercharged V8 was a fine motor in most respects. It simply wasn’t up to the task of propelling such a massively overweight shed with any haste. For 2010, however, Jaguar has a new motor for Land Rover to steal. It’s a 5.0L supercharged V8 gem and it cranks out a total of 510 hp and 461 lb-ft of torque. The extra 110 hp adds a substantial spring to the Range Rover’s step, and while we didn’t get a chance to strap on test equipment, our experienced seat-of-the-pants accelerometers were telling us that Land Rover’s claim of a 5.9 second run to 60 mph wasn’t far off. None to bad for anything weighing 5,891 pounds, especially one with the frontal area of a movie theater. More impressive is the fact that the 6-speed automatic managed to perform its tasks almost imperceptibly. The creamy slide up the gears under wide open throttle really has to be experienced to be believed.
      So the performance deficit is certainly fixed, how about the handling? Showing this truck a twisty road quickly reveals its true character. Hard braking upon entry incites copious amounts of dive followed by a lazy transition to one side or the other. No surprise that the adjustable air suspension is there for hopping over rocky crags or gliding over broken pavement, not corner carving. Frost heaves, pot holes and old Geos are barely acknowledged. Land Rover will be happy to sell you a Range Rover Sport if corner carving in a 2.75 ton truck is your thing. There are massive 6-piston calipers up front and they slow the vehicle just fine, but the pedal is soft with no feedback. About the same can be said for the steering feedback. The artful steering wheel is a beautiful showcase of what can be done with wood, metal and leather. It certainly contains more desirable materials than my first car. Although it can now hold its own on the drag strip, it is the back country where a Range Rover truly belongs. Which is where we headed next.
      Fortunately for us we didn’t have to go far since the AT Nerve Center is located in the middle of the thumb of Michigan. Two miles later and we were traversing gravel pit roads and plowed fields. Like our experience with the ’07 Range Rover, the 255/55-R20 performance-oriented rolling stock looks less than ideal for the road less traveled, but Land Rover engineers must have faith in them. Nevertheless, we kept a vigilant eye on the tread and the very stylish 20” aluminum alloy 10-spoke wheels. Upon reaching the summit of Deanville Mountain (a feat that sounds far more impressive than it actually is) we twirled the 4-wheel drive selector ’round a few times and managed to try out the hill descent control for the trip down. We never felt wanting for more traction, and the Nav screen kept tabs on the miraculous interactions of hardware somewhere beneath the richly trimmed navy carpets. We’d need about 300 PowerPoint slides to explain how it all works, just know that it does, and nothing else on the market does luxury off-roading like a Range Rover packing 510 hp. It’s the real McCoy.
      You may recall that we declared our last Range Rover a disappointment inside thanks to some poor ergonomic choices and a few unspectacular materials that we felt were out of place in a $100k vehicle. Well Land Rover doesn’t like to disappoint. The revised cabin on our 2010 model came trimmed in vast quantities of parchment over navy leather with cherry wood trim. Though it’s hard to call the wood pieces used throughout the interior just “trim” since the center stack seems to be carved out of a trunk. A quick glance at the stack will overwhelm with the bountiful array of big buttons and knobs, but study it for a minute and the layout becomes second nature. The navigation system is now a touch screen unit that doubles as the vehicle information center, most prominently featuring the detailed 4×4 display. In place of physical analog gauges (speedometer, tach, etc.) all Range Rovers receive the 12.3-inch display unit  from the Jaguar XJ. We feel that the possibilities of this setup have barely been tapped. It already informs and reconfigures depending on which 4×4 setting you are using at the time. It’s fascinating to think how engineers will refine this feature over the coming years. Equally impressive is how this technology is integrated so well into an otherwise classicly finished interior. More than one log entry compared the Range Rover to a bank vault. The doors are extra heavy and require an authoritative shove to close. The cabin is ultra quiet filtering out all but a slight whoosh from the supercharger under full bore. And it isn’t exactly spacious. The front seats are fine, but the 6-footers (Dye and Gernand) found legroom a bit cramped in the back seat. But of course the requisite rear seat entertainment system is there, so they won’t even notice their legs going numb. At least headroom isn’t a problem thanks to the high roof Range Rovers have sported for years. Did Land Rover finally get around to tidying up the DVD player in the cargo compartment? No.
      But this is a Land Rover Range Rover, something as timeless as dirt and diamonds. We care not about digital discs and stuff. Line up all seven generations of Range Rovers and you will see there hasn’t been much revolutionary pen work over the years. Look close and you will see that someone did strike the refresh button for 2010. There are new headlights and taillights complete with LED lighting features, and a new front fascia for a look that is decidedly more handsome than our previous tester. Our particular model came bathed in Buckingham Blue which made the silver front grille and Range Rover lettering stand out all the better.
      If the Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTec is the poster child for big SUV efficiency, then the Rover is almost its polar opposite (I’m thinking the H1 Alpha stole the show though). The supercharged 5.0L V8 slurped fuel at the rate of 6.89 gallons for every 100 miles of travel (14.5 mpg), but it also moved briskly. If you had to choose one vehicle to be all things to all men, this might be it. It’s relatively quick, will haul some kids, cargo, a boat and go over the hills to Grandmother’s house in lavish comfort. That said, a Mercedes S-Class is far more capable of moving four people at a brisk pace in style and comfort–at least on paved roads. But if you have a statement to make, a desert to explorer, or a Lexus HS250h touting neighbor who is getting on your nerves, then the $98,625 Range Rover Supercharged might be just right for you.

The Good:
Plenty of power on tap, timeless shape, go-anywhere 4×4 mechanicals, seriously comfortable.
The Bad:
Thirsty (obviously), tight back seat, you still have to load DVDs in the cargo area.
The Verdict:
The right choice if you want one vehicle for everything, but any number of luxury sedans could do the on-road stuff even better.

Photos by Jason Muxlow

  1. September 17th, 2010 at 10:54 | #1

    Those tail lights are very techno looking … remind me of the Altezza movement from back in the day…

  1. November 13th, 2010 at 22:12 | #1
  2. June 16th, 2011 at 15:20 | #2
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