Range Rover long-term test: report 1

For many people, the Range Rover is the ultimate luxury SUV. But what's it actually like to live with? We're finding out...

Range Rover long-term front

The car Range Rover 3.0 D350 HSE Run by Darren Moss, deputy editor

Why it’s here To see whether Land Rover’s flagship model feels as special as it should during everyday use

Needs to Offer the comfort, refinement and general wow factor that you'd expect from a £100k+ luxury SUV

Mileage 2133 List price £107,300 Target Price £107,300 Price as tested £122,770 Test economy 30.3mpg Official economy 35.7mpg Options Meridian signature sound system (£4435), 22in alloy wheels (£1500), SV bespoke full leather interior (£1500), Electric tow bar (£1095), Four-zone climate control (£980), Batumi gold paint (£865), Natural black birch veneer (£770), Illuminated metal treadplates (£655), Versatile loadspace floor (£650), Electric rear side window sunblinds (£550), Sliding panoramic roof (£545), Privacy glass (£475), Advanced tow assist (£385), Black brake callipers (£305), Laminated front and rear side glass (£275), SV bespoke carpet mats (£215), Auto folding loadspace cover (£150), Domestic plug socket (£120)

5 March 2023 – King of kings

Few cars can claim to have as much worldwide recognition as the Range Rover. Indeed, with a client base that extends from royalty to rock stars, and from aristocrats to A-list actors, it is, for many, the quintessential luxury SUV. And I can now include myself among that merry band.

Having stretched the phrase "Go on, treat yourself!" to the limits of plausibility, I’ve parked a mid-range D350 HSE version on my driveway. I say mid-range, but with a kit list stretching into the stratosphere, my car is hardly spartan inside.

Range Rover rear

Indeed, HSE trim comes with luxuries including a 3D surround-view parking camera, 20-way electrically adjustable seats that are heated and ventilated, and a powered two-piece tailgate. Despite all that, I added a few options. Okay, more than a few – my total bill for ticking boxes comes to £15,470, which is more than the list price of some new small cars.

At least most of what I’ve added should be helpful. The Versatile loadspace floor, for example, helps to divide the Range Rover’s Tardis-like boot into segments, and stops my shopping rolling around.

Meanwhile, the domestic plug socket in the second row means that when I’m using my car as a mobile office, I can keep my laptop charged up. And there’s a towbar that automatically retreats under the car when it’s not in use, ready for any load-dragging duties I need to do.

I’ll admit some of my other options were selected purely in the name of vanity. Privacy glass, for example, to stop prying eyes peering into my car, and illuminated treadplates to make getting on board as much of an experience as possible.

Range Rover with Darren Moss driving

The full price of my car is – gulp – £122,770. Or, to put it another way, the same price as a three-bedroom semi-detached house in some parts of the country. No, really. To justify that price, my Range Rover needs to be nothing short of sensational. And, I must admit, the early signs are positive.

Climbing into the driver’s seat after a long day is like slipping into your favourite armchair. It's supportive, endlessly adjustable, made of top-quality leather, and heats up quickly to make cold morning commutes a lot more bearable.

Then there’s the rest of the interior, which mostly feels befitting of the Range Rover’s price tag. I say mostly, because the one blight is a rather cheap-feeling piece of silver-coloured trim on the steering wheel, which looks more Poundland than Prada.

Still, at least there are actual chunky controls for some things – most notably the stereo volume, the climate control and the air suspension. That means I don’t have to prod the infotainment screen to make simple adjustments, as I’d have to in some rival models.

Range Rover - operating touchscreen

Oh yes, air suspension. Not only does it mean that the ride should be pillow-soft over most surfaces, but it also allows me to lift up or lower the entire car to suit my needs.

That's already come in handy, because the multi-storey car park near the What Car? office has a notoriously low entrance. With the air suspension in Standard mode, I'd fear for the paintwork on the car's roof. By flicking to the Access setting so the car hunkers down, I gain a few precious extra centimetres of 'head room' to play with as I ease it through the car park's entrance.

At least manoeuvring around the car park has been made a lot easier by another standard feature: four-wheel steering. That means that at low speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the fronts, shrinking the turning circle dramatically. On faster roads, they turn in the same direction as the front wheels to increase agility.

So far, so good, but there is one colossal elephant in the room, and that’s the fact that Land Rover has a very disappointing reliability record.

Range Rover front

The brand came 31st out of the 32 car makers we collected data about in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey and its models filled the bottom three slots in the luxury SUVs table. This latest-generation Range Rover is too new to have featured in the survey, but 23% of owners of its predecessor told us their car had gone wrong in the previous years.

So, will my time with the Range Rover be a luxurious trek into high society, or will I end up becoming best friends with my breakdown provider? For the answer, stay tuned...

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