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Range Rover modernizes, retains utility (pictures)

The Range Rover got a much needed update for 2013, which debuted at the 2012 Paris Motor Show. The newest version of the old warhorse goes to a lightweight aluminum body while keeping its powerful engine and off-road capability.

Wayne Cunningham
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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The signature car of the English landed gentry, the Range Rover has always been known for exceptional off-road capability. Although Land Rover is now owned by an Indian company, its Range Rover SUV continues with its classic style, while continuing up market without sacrificing off-road utility.
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Range Rover's styling remains largely unadorned, reflecting an elegant simplicity. The ribbed grille is neatly framed by the lower bumper and headlights, while the hood overhangs the front and fenders like a cap.
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In Europe, the Range Rover will be offered with a choice of three engine, two diesel and one gasoline. However, the U.S. will likely only get the gasoline version. That means a supercharged 5-liter V-8 using direct injection for added efficiency. This engine's output is 510 horsepower, and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
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One of the biggest changes with the new Range Rover is the body, which is now an aluminum monocoque with an independent suspension. Using this construction, Land Rover reduced weight over the outgoing model by a phenomenal 700 pounds.
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Beyond engine and dimensions, Land Rover released few specifications for the new Range Rover, although the underlying tech should mirror the current model. For example, the standard ride height seen here can most likely be increased through an air suspension. Behind this front wheel is a very large brake rotor.
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Being a Range Rover, four-wheel drive comes standard. Traditional on Range Rovers, the rear overhang slopes up slightly, improving the descent angle.
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The rear hatch opens in clamshell fashion, leaving a lower gate that can be used as a bench for picnicking at Goodwood, or whichever outdoor events beckon.
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The cabin of the new Range Rover is the most luxurious we have seen to date. In this high-end Autography edition, the speakers are branded by Meridian, and even the rear seats have power adjustment and memory settings, along with their own video monitors in the front seat headrests.
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One break from tradition is the replacement of the analog gauge instrument cluster with an LCD panel showing virtual gauges. The Range Rover also features driver assistance features such as adaptive cruise control.
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On the center console, both the drive selector and the dial for the Range Rover's Terrain Response System recess when the car is powered down, making for a smooth surface. Terrain Response lets the driver select the type of surface on which the vehicle is traveling, so its four-wheel-drive system can use the appropriate drive program.
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The instrument panel features this touch screen, hosting the Range Rover's navigation, stereo, and phone controls. Here it is also showing the current Terrain Response settings.

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