2018 Land Rover Range Rover Long Wheelbase review: Behind the wheel of the British beast
I walked out of Ikea with my pal, our cart loaded up with a Tyssedal dresser, a Poäng chair and a full-size, 80-inch long Billy bookcase. Usually Ikea runs are fraught with thoughts of, "How the hell will I get this home?" but not when your delivery vehicle is a 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Long Wheelbase. I pushed a button to lower the rear seats and freed up the 81.6 inches of floor length. We loaded up our flat packages with room to spare, and were on our way to an afternoon of Allen wrenches and wooden pegs.
No, your average Range Rover shopper probably won't be making many Ikea runs unless it's to outfit their progeny's Ivy League dorm room, but it's nice to know it's up to the task.
The Range Rover is the ne-plus-ultra of the Land Rover lineup. Translation: it's the biggest, baddest, most expensive Land Rover you can buy. The base model and HSE are available with a 3.0-liter supercharged or turbodiesel V6, while a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 is on tap for the Supercharged, Autobiography and SVAutobiography Dynamic trims. A plug-in hybrid P400e joins the fray in 2019. The Rover is available in standard or long wheelbase specification, and all models are four-wheel drive and feature an eight-speed automatic transmission. Though there is easily room for three rows of seats, the Range Rover only comes with two. Prices start at $87,350, which seems downright cheap when compared to the SVAutobiography's starting price of $207,900.
My tester for this review is a slightly-less spendy Supercharged trim. I've never been one for overly large vehicles, and piloting a 17-foot-long, 6-foot-tall gargantuan SUV through the crowded city streets of San Francisco is akin to steering an elephant around an ant farm.
An incredibly posh, comfortable and surprisingly quick elephant.
The 416 pound-feet of torque starts this 5,400-pound English elephant on the warpath. When joined by the V8's full stable of 518 horses, 60 miles an hour is reached in 5.2 seconds. That's quicker than both the Cadillac Escalade and, comparing large watermelons to tiny strawberries, snappier than the Honda Civic Type R, as well.
All that power is contained within a stately chassis. Sure, there is some lean when pushed on a back road, but remember, the Range Rover isn't made for the twisties. Taken as a whole, it performs very well for a vehicle of its stature. The eight-speed automatic transmission works well with the powerplant, doing its job in the background with no fuss, no muss.
Regardless of its size -- or perhaps because of it -- I feel supremely safe in the Rover. Folks seem to stay out of my way on the crowded streets, and the high seating position gives me an excellent view of the cars blocking the intersection ahead. Sealed up in the cabin, it's as if nothing can touch me. Everything from the buzzing motorcycles lane splitting on the highway to the overly loud bass pouring out of some teenager's car at a light is kept far from my ears, resulting in a calm commute.
However serene the ride may be, you'll predictably pay for it at the pump. The Land Rover gets an EPA fuel rating of 16 mpg in the city, 21 mpg on the highway and 18 mpg combined, numbers that are pretty much in line with the Cadillac Escalade and the Lincoln Navigator long wheelbase. I left the stop/start feature on to help conserve fuel and, aside from a few instances of a heavy right foot, kept the pace on the slow side, resulting in 16.9 mpg during my week with the car.
The Range Rover is equipped with air suspension that lowers for easy entry and exits, and can be raised up 3 inches for any off-pavement excursions. For a vehicle with a 10-foot plus wheelbase, the off-road geometry is pretty great. Approach, departure and breakover angles are 34.7, 29.6 and 26.1 degrees respectively when raised to off-road height. Those aren't Jeep Wrangler Rubicon numbers but still, nothing to sneeze at, especially for a luxury SUV. A selectable terrain response system adjusts throttle and transmission points for Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand and Rock Crawl. Trade those 22-inch wheels for some smaller 19s wrapped in some aggressive rubber and the Range Rover will legitimately take you most anywhere in the world.
The long wheelbase makes for a 42.8-foot turning radius, guaranteeing three-point turns on all but the widest intersection. You'll rue the day you miss a turn in this land yacht. Unfortunately, the InControl Touch Pro Duo navigation system is not much help. It's finicky, difficult to use, and full of frustrating quirks that just has me pulling out my iPhone for the blessed simplicity of Google Maps.
First, there is no one-box entry for navigation, so I'm stuck adding the city, then street, then house number. After I input the address (slowly, as the system can't keep pace with my typing), I'm given odd city choices for my destination of Santa Clara, CA. No, Land Rover, I don't want to go to Santa Clara, Hayward. That's not even a real place.
There's no Go or Start icon to get things going. Instead I have to tap Show Place Details and then I can tap Start. It should not be this complicated. There's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to soften the blow, either. Overall, I found the navigation system to be slow, poorly laid out and frustrating to use (although not all my colleagues share my feelings).
Having said all that, the infotainment system looks awesome, housed on two 10-inch touchscreens on the center stack. The top has a traditional home screen and all functions while the bottom is reserved for climate, seat and vehicle settings and the Terrain Response modes. A swipe of the finger can send information from one screen to another, which is pretty slick, and the top screen can be tilted if there's too much glare from the panoramic roof. The 12-inch configurable gauge cluster can put navigation front and center and allows for easy access to media and phone settings from new capacitive steering wheel buttons. It's not quite as nifty as Audi's Virtual Cockpit, but it's still one of my favorite features.
Overall, the tech in my Range Rover proves to be frustratingly glitchy. The backup camera didn't work the first time I put the vehicle in reverse, I saw multiple flashes and blips on the main gauge cluster and the gesture-controlled sunshade for the moonroof was persnickety to a fault. Good thing there's a physical rocker switch on the panel, or I never would have gotten any sunshine.
The Range Rover is practically a rolling charging station, with all the electrical outlets in the thing. The front gets three USB ports, an HDMI port and two 12V sockets. Rear passengers get two 12V sockets, a 110V plug and an optional pair of USB ports and one HDMI point. Available 4G Wi-Fi can handle up to eight devices.
My tester arrives equipped with the Drive Pro package, with all the tech to make driving this beast a bit easier. Blind-spot assist is always on, a welcome nanny with a vehicle this big. Lane-keeping assist also provides a small steering adjustment, although that can be turned on and off. The adaptive cruise control can bring the Rover to a full stop and then resume acceleration in stop-and-go traffic.
The crowning glory of the Long Wheelbase is its second row. The extra 7.3 inches of legroom with heated and reclining seats make for a first-class experience for rear-seat passengers. Those who really want to go for rear-seat luxe can shell out for the Executive Seating in the Autobiography trim, with a footrest and a massage function. But even in my more sedate Supercharged trim, I still opt to kill a few hours before a meeting working from the rear seat, rather than fighting my way to an empty table at Peet's.
Cargo capacity is not as spacious as one would think for such a large vehicle. Behind the second row of seats is 24.5 cubic feet of space, with 75.6 cubes available in total. The Cadillac Escalade has over 95 total cubes available and it's slightly shorter and not as wide. Still, the Rover's cargo capacity is 15 times larger than a Miata trunk, so there's that.
The Range Rover Long Wheelbase is a $20,000 premium over the $87,350 for the standard length, so I'll stick with the smaller of the two. Mechanical power is worth the coin for me, so I'll spring for the 5.0-liter powerplant, upping the starting price to $104,850. I definitely require massaging front seats, so add another $2,090. The Drive Pro package is a must for adaptive cruise control, blind-spot and lane-keep assist for $1,630. The $815 Park Pro package helps with parallel parking, so... yes, please. The Rover is rated to tow 7,700 pounds, so I'll add the $1,610 Towing package. I'm on the fence about the Vision Assist package. It includes a surround-view camera, LED headlights and a head-up display, but it's also $2,400. But really, my price is already at nearly $112,000, including $995 destination and a few cosmetic bits. What's another couple grand?
So, what else is there that compares to the Grand Daddy Range Rover? Sure, the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen is a worthy adversary, but it also starts at over $120,000 and goes sky-high from there. If you want something in the same price range you'd have to look at the Mercedes-Benz GLS, which offers up oodles of luxury, but is not as good in the wild blue yonder as the Rover. The Lexus LX 570 is basically a fancy-pants Toyota Land Cruiser and boasts some good off-road chops, but doesn't have that Range Rover cachet. The Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator certainly perform well on the pavement, but neither are anything I'd want to take on a desert excursion.
Although, with all the electrical issues I had with the Range Rover, I'm not sure I'd want to take it out on any bold endeavours either. As much as I enjoyed feeling like the Queen of the Road, the final $126,380 price of my tester vehicle is just too much to pay for technology that is unreliable and difficult to use. For now, I'll stick with an old-school, technology-free Defender for my adventurous Ikea runs.