While big trucks intrigue me, they don’t pique my interest unless they can tote as many kids as a minivan. As a dad, and a “value conscious” (read: cheap) and practical one at that, the idea of driving a huge vehicle if it can’t tote more peeps doesn’t really make sense. However, when I read that the new Range Rover Supercharged had a 0-100km time of 5.1 seconds, my interest level spiked. Seriously, that’s sports car quick. And when a chance to drive one came up – I grabbed it. It’s not every day I get to drive a $115,000 truck, and even rarer, I hear, to be able to drive this new 2013 model, which is in short supply. To heck with practicality, this is something special.
The Range Rover is epic in scale, luxury, and power. It has all the baby-butt soft leather and hand stitched doodads of the finest sedans I’ve ever been in, including Bentleys and Rolls Royces (that not a brag, I used to valet park as a part time job). It’s only when you slide out the humongous vault-like door and all the way down to the ground that you’re reminded that this is actually a very large truck. One capable of tackling almost any terrain or condition.
The motivation to tackle whatever God throws at you comes from a 5.0L supercharged V8 putting out 510 horsepowers. Put into perspective, that’s more horsepower than three and half Honda Civics. It sounds better than a Honda Civic, too. Actually, it sounds a lot like a muscle car – and that makes using the Ranger Rover’s power very addictive. It’s a sports car and SUV in one… everyone loves a two-in-one, right?
From the outside, the “Range”, as they are often called in hip hop tracks (did I say that right? My dad-ness is hard to hide), has a very polished look. It’s free from hard edges and tacky embellishments. Still, it’s unmistakably a Range Rover. This is just the new Range Rover. The tall, trapezoidal greenhouse gives the impression of a thinner belt line. A downward sloping roof and upward-sloping tail tapers the rear. All of which seem to do a good job of hiding just how monsterously large the Range Rover is. Next to my sister-in-law’s Ford Edge, already a pretty sizeable vehicle, the Range was inches larger in every direction.
Funny side story – the week after my time with the Range Rover I was in London, England, which is a city that is simply infested with Range Rovers. I actually spotted no less than 10 Range Rovers during a 3 block walk, a trivia item I shared with a local business associate who told me they are referred to as “Chelsea tractors” because they are so common in that area of London for ferrying kids to and from school and running errands. Clearly, the humour in the fact that one of the most capable off-road vehicles you can put in your driveway is most often used to shuttle children is not lost on sensible Londoners.
Comparing the copious Range Rovers I saw in London with this new one, I was inclined to think the designers of the new Range Rover were lazy. But the subtle changes, the modernization of the classic style and proportions is beautifully executed. Lazy isn’t the right word at all… conservative and respectful is probably closer to the truth. It’s not simple, it’s distilled.
Inside, the Range is the perfect blend of modern and traditional. It’s clean and crisp, but comfortable. During my week with the Range, I always looked forward to being behind the (heated) wheel. Common interior features are taken to the next level. Dual zone climate control? Nah. Quad zone climate control, here. Power rear liftgate? Nope. Two power rear liftgates (one upper and one lower). The shift lever is replaced with a shift dial, which rises out of the centre console on startup and recedes on engine stop. Sexy. The traditional gauges are all replaced with a computer monitor, which, on start-up, displays the Range Rover logo which dissolves into the customary gauge cluster setup. Hot. Yeah, it definitely has drama, this car.
The seats, which are more like comfy leather armchairs than automotive seats, are perfect. I have never sat in a more comfortable seat that was bolted to a vehicle. Getting into and out of those seats can be a challenge because they are so high off the ground, but you can actually lower the entire car with the push of a button to make ingress and egress a little easier. Lowering the truck makes entering and navigating parking garages slightly less anxiety-ridden affairs, too. The roof of the Range Rover squeaked under the max height of my local garage by no more than an inch or two without the car being lowered.
Was it good on gas? No, not really. But it wasn’t horrible, either. And the argument could be made that if you’re spending $115,000 on a 510hp truck, fuel economy probably isn’t of much concern to you. On the upside, it has a mammoth fuel tank, so you’ll still make it a good distance between expensive fill ups. I took the Range Rover on a trip to cottage country in February (which is why it’s appropriately filthy in the photos) and loved every minute of the drive. It sticks to the road, as if glued to it, and gathers and scrubs speed like a sports car, yet climbs snowy, icy hills like a billy goat. To call it surefooted would only begin to describe the confidence this truck commands in less than ideal conditions. I also had the good fortune of also having the Range Rover during one of Toronto’s famous “snowmadeggons” and, while other cars struggled to get out of the driveway, from the pilot’s seat of the Range Rover, you’d swear it was just a little rain. Impressive.
The 2013 Range Rover Supercharged will likely be the nicest car I drive this year. And I really did like it. But with cars like this, which are really out of my snack bracket, I usually ask myself if I would keep one if I won it in a lottery or if I would sell it and buy something else, pocketing the difference. For something like a Rolls Royce, which just doesn’t turn my crank, I would definitely sell it. On the opposite end of the spectrum, something like a Corvette, which is relatively modest, I would probably keep. The Range sits somewhere in the middle… It’s just too good not to drive for at least a little while.
So, if you’ve saved your pennies and are in the market for a 500+hp truck, the Range Rover’s definitely one to check out. At $115,000 it’s basically the price of a Chevy Sonic less than the 500hp Porsche Cayenne Turbo, so it’s even, um, well priced?
(Big thanks to Range Rover for loaning me the vehicle for the week)