Powered by its 510-horsepower supercharged V8, the 2010 Range Rover Supercharged hurtles down the road like it's some kind of locomotive, one of those high-speed trains tearing across Europe at triple-digit speeds. And just like a train, this British-built SUV seems to combine the sightseeing car, the dining car and the sleeper car all into one magnificently luxurious box. Every time you look out the window, you expect to see the French countryside.
The time would seem to have long since passed when a sport-utility would seem relevant to the way real people live, yet the 2010 Range Rover Supercharged reminds you that utility never goes out of style. No matter what you have in mind, the Range Rover is ready when you are. When you're carrying stuff, it's a great big box. When you're going someplace, four-wheel drive makes sure you get there. And when you want to arrive, the Range Rover makes a statement of speed and style that even a Porsche Panamera can't match.
But for the sincerest combination of utility and luxury, nothing else comes close, really.
This four-wheel-drive vehicle isn't afraid to be full-size. It measures 195.8 inches from tip to tail, rides on a long 113.3-inch wheelbase and weighs a ground-pounding 5,937 pounds. No surprise, then, that the combination of such prodigious dimensions and a supple, long-travel suspension with air springs combines to deliver a limousinelike ride that's deliciously resilient to rough roads and trails.
The 2010 Range Rover Supercharged introduces the supercharged version of the third-generation LR-V8. Basically the same revised engine that is also new for the line of 2010 Jaguar models, this V8 has received a thorough makeover with direct fuel injection, variable valve timing on intake and exhaust camshafts, and assorted measures to minimize friction. With the latest Eaton supercharger and a high-tech intercooler system, the result is 510 hp and 461 pound-feet of torque.
By Edmunds testing, the result is a great big vehicle that gets to 60 mph from a standstill in 5.5 seconds and can reach 140 mph if you're patient. The Range Rover Supercharged has upgraded brakes with larger front rotors compared to the regular Range Rover, and the added grip of this vehicle's optional 255/50R20 Michelin Latitude Diamaris tires helps bring this heavy SUV to a halt from 60 mph in just 121 feet.
Of course, the thing that's overlooked about the Range Rover is that it can carry the load when you're off-road, whether that means a snow-covered driveway or a two-track deep into the Uinta Mountains. As before, the six-speed automatic transmission has a dual-range transfer case, so the Range Rover is geared for rock-crawling speeds, but new for 2010 is an even more finely tuned array of settings that can match the four-wheel-drive system's performance to the character of the traction, whether it's sand, snow or some other less-than-ideal surface.
Moreover, a safety net of electronics helps you get the best of four-wheel-drive mobility, including all-terrain stability control and hill descent control. The antilock braking system has also been specially calibrated to ensure stability in cornering and also forestall rollovers. These electronics restrict ultimate dry-pavement cornering performance somewhat, as indicated by the Range Rover's speed of just 55.4 mph through the Edmunds slalom test and cornering grip of 0.71g on the skid pad. But such conservative tuning is what you want in such a big passenger vehicle, especially one with off-road capability.
You'll never be fully prepared for the way this sport-utility vehicle rides. Just as we've all discovered since SUVs became popular in the 1990s, an off-road-style suspension with lots of suspension travel can insulate you from the troublesome bumps of the concrete turnpike just as effectively as it does from the obstacles of a logging road. The difference that the 2010 Range Rover offers is the combination of a luxurious ride from its air-spring suspension with steering that's natural, communicative and responsive, so this SUV always offers a secure feel of straight-line stability. Of course, this particular example's optional 20-inch tires trade some ride comfort for quicker steering response and higher cornering limits.
Riding comfort is even the watchword of the Range Rover's four-wheel-drive system. The key lies in the ability to make the antilock braking system perform in ways that ensures optimal traction when you're going as well as when you're stopping. You simply dial in the Range Rover's Terrain Response with the knob on the center console and the vehicle does the thinking for you. You can keep going when the traction is slippery, slog through muddy ruts, plow through snow or clamber over rocks. And you can control your speed in descents so steep that you feel like you're hanging in the seatbelts. After awhile you realize that the Range Rover can take you just about anywhere.
The 2010 Range Rover always feels like a luxury vehicle. Much of this comes from traditional, upright chairlike seating, as there's nothing that feels so luxurious as sheer space. The Range Rover Supercharged offers you 14-way-adjustable front seats, so you're sure to find the right combination. That said, you can feel as if you're climbing into a rail car, as the step-in height is sizable and access to the rear seat is not easy.
Some British-style eccentricities give the Range Rover a unique character, both in the overall format for control placement and in the way things work. A new information display features the use of TFT (thin-film transfer, a personal computer technology), and the look is interesting while offering far more information in a compact space. The hard-drive-based navigation system also is a bit different, as if the British standard for electronics were unique, although the 720-watt Harman Kardon audio system makes the same statement, only in a good way. At the same time, you can tell that the modern electronics have been pasted into the package, as the rear-seat entertainment system's DVD changer lies in the cargo area, so you have to load up for the kids at the beginning of the trip.
Design/Fit and Finish
As you'd expect from a vehicle with a base MSRP of $95,125 (including destination), the Range Rover Supercharged gives you leather upholstery. This leather is soft and pliable in the British way and it's part of an interior style that emphasizes natural materials — leather, wood, cloth and steel. In contrast to luxury utility vehicles from the Americans and the Germans, the Range Rover offers a warm, humane environment.
It's customary to softly complain about British engineering when Land Rover products are discussed, but it's worth remembering that this platform was originally engineered by BMW when the German company owned the Land Rover nameplate. When Ford took on the British company, the Range Rover benefited from a thorough makeover in terms of safety and electronics, not to mention the direct-injection Jaguar V8.
Who should consider this vehicle
The 2011 Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged is really a luxury vehicle, not a traditional sport-utility. It serves those who demand a wide range of capabilities to serve a lifestyle with a wide range of activities and who want to undertake it all in a vehicle that brings luxury and a distinctive personality to the party.
Yet the Range Rover is also more Bentley than Toyota Land Cruiser. It asks your participation in every way, from the way it goes down the road (or off the road entirely) to the way you sit and load and tote and tow. It aspires to be much more than simple utility and assumes that you're willing to pay the price, whether in the cost of purchase, the cost of fuel, or the simple need to accommodate its British eccentricities. Yet there's just nothing else like it.