Week ending July 24
Miles driven this week 440
To France, on holiday. The wife, the kids and I, just an hour south of Calais and a Range Rover to get us there. Doesn't sound too tough, does it?
I'm pleased to report that it isn't. Sorry to be smug, but the Range Rover really is in its element. Big enough to swallow the luggage, comfortable enough to get us here relaxed and almost as happy on a twisty country road as it is to cruise down a motorway.
Last year, adventurous folk that we are, we made an almost identical journey in a Mitsubishi Outlander. It was fine most of the time, but one of the many areas that the vast price difference between that and the Range Rover pays off is in the tight, sinuous country roads. Where the Outlander wallowed, the Range Rover sits proud. This year, there's no car sickness to worry about.
Fuel economy so far is notable, too. Sitting at 32mpg more or less is impressive for a car of this size, even if it won't earn a postcard from Greenpeace. Ten years ago, two-thirds of that figure would have been welcomed.
Progress comes in all shapes and sizes, even two tonne-plus SUV-shaped ones.
By Jim Holder
Week ending July 17
Miles driven this week 1024
I've just spent a long weekend in Mr Editor Holder's Range Rover, trying to learn to like it. It's not that I don't respect the big Rangie; it's just that I've always found it, well, a bit cumbersome and clunky. I've never been entirely convinced by the interior finish and I've always found the gearbox to be a bit too easily confused. It probably doesn't help that I don't have a bottom field to drive it to, either.
Anyway, over the space of a few days I racked up a few hundred miles and my grudging respect has mellowed into gentle admiration. Firstly, it swallowed two sets of what I believe are now called 'baby transport solutions' – or a buggy, a stroller and a chassis to you and me. Normally, these things have to be squeezed into the boot; one of them often ends up on the back seat beside Junior Mac. However, they slid effortlessly into the Range Rover's flat (but high) load bay and sat happily alongside each other. I can't recall ever having such an easy solution.
Then there's the sound system. Our car has a Meridian set-up with various audio processing modes, including Dolby Pro Logic II and at least one other form of surround sound. On my way into the office yesterday I turned down the sub-woofer a little, switched the set-up on to regular stereo (oh, the simplicity) and cranked up the volume. I was left deeply impressed by how loud a bit of guitar-based rock could be played without any noticeable clipping or distortion; the basic hardware is clearly of a high quality.
So over the space of a few days and a bit of decent mileage I've developed a greater appreciation for what the current king of luxury SUVs can do. Fondness, though? That one may have to wait. It's impressive in many, many ways, but I'm not sure I can quite bring myself to really love it.
By John McIlroy
Week ending July 9
Miles driven this week 212
After my recent complaints that some of the metal detailing on the inside of the Range Rover wasn't very consumer-friendly when it came to cleaning, it's now time to deliver the flip side to that story.
For all the irritating nooks and recesses that require an extra bit of elbow grease to polish up, the bulk of the Range Rover's interior is both easy to clean and remarkably robust.
The seats, for instance, are carefully stitched and piped so a vacuum cleaner nozzle will get in there to remove biscuit crumbs and crisp flakes, and the boot is so perfectly squared off that you can actually run a standard size vacuum cleaner up along its edges without recourse to the hose attachment.
Meanwhile, the deep carpet is remarkably durable, surviving the combined impact of muddy wellington boots, heavy washing and then being battered by a final vacuum. As Land Rover explores ever more profitable spin-offs, you have to wonder if country-dwelling owners could be persuaded to deck their house in it.
All in, a quick clean to 80% of the car is easy, then. So easy, that even a six-year-old can do it.
By Jim Holder
Week ending July 2
Miles driven 272
Every year I make my way to the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts in Somerset. This year, I had the additional responsibility of arranging the transport for four friends, which meant finding a car which could accommodate ours bags, tents, gazebo and sleeping mats - plus a large amount of food and drink!
Fortunately I had the option of being able to take What Car?’s Range Rover for my annual pilgrimage. I was slightly apprehensive at first as the festival is all about green sustainability and being eco friendly. So taking a mammoth, ‘gas guzzling’, CO2 emitting Range Rover might not go down too well with the ‘hippies’ at Glastonbury!
Glastonbury gates open to the public on the Wednesday morning, so we decided to leave in the middle of the night to ensure we could get there early to bag a good camping spot. We spent a while rearranging things but (just) made everything fit. The boot was filled to the roofline - thank goodness for reversing cameras!
With no traffic I could really enjoy the V6 diesel on the motorway and on some of Somerset's windy roads. I loved the refined engine, which averaged over 30mpg on the trip. Even though the Range was packed to the brim, it didn't feel sluggish at all. The excellent sound system meant we could get properly pumped up for seeing some of our favourite artists, too.
We arrived just as the sun was rising over the farm, which by now was more like a mini city. For the first time, I wasn't worried about the notorious Glasto rain, as there was no way we would be getting stuck in the Range Rover.
The main advantage of taking a car to Glasto is that you can do multiple trips back and forth so you don't have to carry everything you bring in at once. After spending an eternity deciding what was essential for the first day, we set off to join a line of thousands of people that must have been nearly a mile long.
During the festival we made a couple of trips back to car, to stock up on our supplies. I was pleased to see that there were no vandal hate crimes committed against the big SUV.
After five long days of frolicking in the muddy fields, it was time to head back to the real world. This time packing wasn't that hard. We just had to make sure anything muddy (pretty much everything) was in bin bags, so as not to mess up the car.
After much debate we thought it was best to leave in the afternoon as most people would have left by then. That said, when you have nearly 200,000 people on a farm, there is never a good time to leave.
The multiple car parks and narrow roads meant we were stuck in the parking lot for two hours. The dirty looks we got in our attempt to join the queue in the gargantuan Range Rover were rather amusing. Even after we eventually got out of the car park, we were stuck in standstill traffic, which only added to our post festival blues. It was probably at this point that I was thankful I was driving an automatic.
After a total of about seven hours of parking chaos and traffic, we finally made it back to London. What could have been a journey from hell was in many ways made enjoyable by the wonderful Range Rover.
By Niki Sorabjee