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2013 Range Rover Supercharged review:

It is...the Most Interesting SUV in the World

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Even the rear seats are power-adjustable and, in our Comfort package-equipped vehicle, get their own two climate control zones. The $4,150 Comfort package is also responsible for adding a solar-attenuating front windshield and the aforementioned massage seats and refrigerator.

This little fridge keeps drinks and snacks cold. James Martin/CNET

On the road, the Range Rover doesn't behave much like a truck. Underneath its restyled sheet metal, the 2013 model has transformed, moving to a monocoque construction that gives the Rover more carlike behavior on the road without compromising its off-road ability. The same traits that allow the SUV to soak up the bumps of an unpaved road make short work of San Francisco's potholed streets. The same intelligence that lets the Rover sense off-road terrain allows it to know when you're on asphalt and adjust its behavior accordingly.

Our Supercharged model also comes standard with the Dynamic Response system, which allows the vehicle's computers to make use of the suspension's ability to automatically load-level to keep the SUV flat while cornering, increasing responsiveness and stability. Additionally, the Range Rover is equipped with a veritable alphabet soup of control systems -- from traction to stability to brake control -- that further aid its on-road manners.

The "new" tech is already aging...
The Range Rover does a lot of things well, but one misstep is its use of a reskinned and modified version of Jaguar's infotainment system. I've complained about this system before -- it's largely identical to the system in the recently tested Jaguar XJ -- so I'll be brief here.

The navigation system looks good but requires too much interaction from the driver. James Martin/CNET

The system's issues mostly boil down to slow response time when inputting and an overly complex menu system that requires too many inputs from the driver to reach various frequently accessed tasks. For example, it requires about a half-dozen screen inputs before you can even start searching for, say, the nearest car wash. This annoyance is compounded by the fact that the Range Rover is such a large vehicle that the touch screen is pretty far away from the driver -- I couldn't even reach the bank of shortcut buttons on the screen's far right bezel without stretching.

The Range Rover's voice command system could be its saving grace here, but even this system is too complex, requiring even more prompts and confirmations than the touch-screen input. It can take almost 2 to 3 minutes to input an address as simple as, "1000 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco."

A digital instrument cluster adapts to display audio source, navigation, and off-road information. James Martin/CNET

Fortunately, once you've got a destination input, the navigation system performs well and looks good. The list of available audio sources is well fleshed out, including satellite and terrestrial radio, USB and iPod connectivity, Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming, an analog auxiliary audio input, and CD/DVD playback.

The optional 825-watt, 19-speaker Meridian surround system sounds great. I haven't heard the standard 380-watt, 13-speaker system to know if the louder option is really worth the additional $1,850 cost, but it sounds darn good in its own right. I've had issues with the Meridian surround system's audio staging in previously tested vehicles, but the setup in the Range Rover sounds spot on, filling the cabin with sound and placing the bulk of the soundstage in front of the driver's seat.

Our example was also equipped with a variety of driver-aid technologies, including blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking-aid sensors with cross-traffic alert, and automatic high beams. I found the proximity sensors to be a bit too sensitive, in particular the cross-traffic alert system, which was always beeping at something, and quite often, beeping at nothing at all.

An optional $1,550 Vision package equipped the Rover with an array of five exterior cameras that allowed me to double-check the sensor's beeping visually. Of particular use were the front bumper cameras, which displayed 90-degree views off of the front bumper when nosing out of blind alleys or parking spots, and the rearview camera with dynamic trajectory overlay, for obvious reasons. The two cameras in the side mirrors that displayed a curb view were less useful because, like most bits of the Rover's tech packages, getting them to show up onscreen required at least two or three touch-screen taps.

The Vision package adds many useful cameras but hides them deep in the menu system. James Martin/CNET

The icing on the driver aid technology cake should be the automated parallel-parking system, which allows the sonar sensors to measure curbside parking spaces to determine if the SUV will fit. When a properly sized space is indicated (on the digital instrument cluster) the computer can take over the electronic power steering, guiding the vehicle into the space while the driver retains control over the gas and brake pedals. There are only two minor drawbacks: automatic parallel parking only works on the right side of the vehicle and not the left side and the system is a little slow -- I found that I could often park the Rover faster than the computer could -- but its accuracy is inch-perfect. At $650, it's worth checking the box to make sure that your significant other doesn't go scuffing your bumpers when you lend him or her the keys.

It's expensive, but the money is well spent
There's no getting around it: the 2013 Land Rover Range Rover is expensive, and the Supercharged model is almost startlingly so at a starting price of $99,100. You'll also have to pay $895 for destination charges, and if you live in California, a $100 emissions tax just to sign on the dotted line -- and that's before about $11,000 in safety and tech options that our example was equipped with, including the previously mentioned packages. This brings us to our as-tested price of $111,120.

So buying a 2013 Range Rover Supercharged is really like buying two vehicles in one -- a comfortable, luxury sedan and a tough-as-nails truck -- which is good, because it costs about as much as two vehicles. Few, if any, vehicles can match the Range Rover's blend of luxurious appointments and off-road ruggedness and the ease with which it transitions between those two worlds. (Though many can best its dashboard tech -- the Editors' Choice Award-winning 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, for example -- but I digress.) Luxury SUVs are so often soft-roaders that probably shouldn't climb a median, to say nothing of fording a stream. And those that could keep up with the Rover beyond the pavement aren't the sort of vehicles that should be valeted at the best restaurant in town.

Few vehicles can match both the Range Rover's luxury appointments and go-anywhere capability. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Tech specs
Model 2013 Land Rover Range Rover
Trim Supercharged
Power train 5.0-liter supercharged V-8, 8-speed automatic transmission, full-time 4-wheel-drive
EPA fuel economy 13 city, 19 highway, 15 combined mpg
Observed fuel economy 15.1 mpg
Navigation Standard, HDD-based with traffic
Bluetooth phone support Standard with audio streaming
Disc player CD/DVD
MP3 player support Standard analog 3.5mm auxiliary input, USB connection, Bluetooth audio streaming, iPod connection
Other digital audio SiriusXM satellite radio
Audio system Optional 19-speaker, 825-watt Meridian Surround system
Driver aids Optional Vision package with around-view cameras, blind-spot monitoring, audible proximity sensors, automatic high beams, cross-traffic alerts; optional automated parallel parking
Base price $99,100
Price as tested $111,120

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