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Tom Crosby: A car good enough for a queen

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Columnist Tom Crosby -- Motoring


By Tom Crosby

The Range Rover's long-wheelbase luxury SUV is destined to attract celebrities, wealthy businessmen or anyone who wants to be chauffeured in a top-performing vehicle while basking in second-row luxury reminiscent of a snobby English gentleman's club.

Passengers aren't the only ones loving this vehicle -- the queen of England took a turn behind-the-wheel in 2012, creating a YouTube sensation. Some of those upscale interior touches include two Apple iPads, hand-crafted and machine stitched soft leather and in the cargo area -- the English call it the "boot" -- a yacht-inspired teak floor.

Range Rover is the top-of-the-line for Land Rover and after spending $105,300 for the base edition, our test-drive added $16,705 for 10 options that include comfort additions such as a center console cooling box, several cutting edge safety functions like blind spot detection and adaptive cruise control, surround camera views on the spacious 12-inch dashboard screen, hands-free parking assist, rear seat entertainment package, a tow pack, walnut veneer trim and second row climate controls.

Range Rovers can be uniquely customized to a purchaser's request, maybe with family images on head restraints or colored wheel rims.

Range Rover LWB sprints like a sports car, reaching 60 mph in less than 6 seconds with its powerful direct-injection V8 engine. Even under heavy acceleration, this versatile all-wheel-drive vehicle moderates bumps and lumps in the road and resists leans that plague taller, lighter SUV's.

The suspension damper units monitor vehicle conditions up to 500 times per second, reacting to body and ride control with appropriate response helping handling while smoothing out a composed ride for an extended wheelbase, nearly three-ton vehicle. Take it off-road and choose snow, mud, sand or rock crawl driving modes to navigate appropriately, Hill descent control activates when needed.

Mileage may not be important to those who can afford a Range Rover but there is a cylinder deactivation when stopped. It creates the only driving flaw when it boots back up with a slight lurch- a non-premium glitch.

What addicts owners and passengers are tiny upscale touches, like 10 subliminal lighting color choices; puddle lights at night that illuminate a circle on the ground with the Range Rover name encircled; automatic window shades for second row anonymity; rear seat reclining to provide greater comfort to go with extended leg room and a cathedral-quiet interior, unless listening to the Meridian Premier 13-speaker sound system.

LIKES: Luxury, power, space, handling, ride, quiet
DISLIKES: Stop/start

BOTTOM LINE: If is good enough for the 89-year-old Queen of England...

FACT FILE:
Base price plus destination fee: $106,195
Curb weight: 5,502 lbs.
Wheelbase: 122.8 inches
Length: 204.7 inches
Width: 87.4 inches w/mirrors
Engine specs: 5.0 liter, V-8, supercharged, direct injection
Horsepower: 375 hp at 6,000-6500 rpm
Torque: 461 ft.-lbs. at 2,500-5,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed ZF automatic w/manual paddles
EPA Rating: 14-mpg city, 19-mpg highway
Range: 27.7 gallons, premium fuel
Performance: 0 to 60 in less than 6 seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.



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