Range Rover long-term test: report 2

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 wading through river

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 2755 List price £107,300 Target Price £107,300 Price as tested £122,770 Test economy 31.3mpg Official economy 35.7mpg

24 March 2023 – When the going gets tough...

Picture a car clinging to the rugged side of a mud-strewn mountain, and the chances are that the vehicle in your mind’s eye has a Land Rover badge on its bonnet. I’d take a guess, however, that you wouldn’t be picturing my Range Rover.

You see, the Range Rover is, first and foremost, a luxury SUV. It’s comfortable, classy, and, if that kind of thing matters to you, gloriously conspicuous. And yet a good portion of Range Rover owners will also take their cars off-road, whether that involves traversing fields to reach a glamping location or scouting for a spot from which to shoot the local wildlife. 

To find out how my car would handle the rough stuff, I booked a visit to Land Rover’s Luton experience centre. This is something anyone can do (if you buy a new or used Land Rover, you’re given a voucher for the experience) but whereas most drivers will tackle the course in Land Rover’s own fleet of off-roaders, saving their own machinery from going home awash with mud, I tackled it in my own car.

Range Rover on rocky terrain

Moving from the gravel car park of the course parking area to our first section of rutted tracks, instructor John guided me through setting up the Range Rover for off-roading. As it turns out, this was as easy as selecting which of the various terrain modes I wanted.

This is done via a rotary dial on the centre console, and drivers can choose between pre-made modes for rocks, sand and gravel, snow and ice or, as was appropriate here, the deep ruts of a farmer’s field. The car’s air suspension rose up to its imposing off-road height, and we set off. 

Being up so high and facing obstacles such as rocks and ruts, which were sometimes hard to see, I was thankful for the Range Rover’s comprehensive array of cameras and sensors, which meant I could keep an eye on what was going on all around my car while remaining toasty warm inside.

Fancy graphics on the infotainment screen showed me where power was being distributed to each wheel, while cameras facing each wheel helped to avoid any embarrassing scrapes. Even my head-up display changed to incorporate an inclinometer, as well as a graphic to show me where my wheels were turning under the car’s massive bonnet.

We took my Range Rover through a course which, I believe, was far rougher than most owners will ever subject their cars to. We waded through a river which was almost past the height of the driver’s door; I know this for fact because a graphic on the infotainment system showed me, with near-scary accuracy, the level of the rising water.

We took on slippery mud tracks and rocky outcrops, where just three of the car’s four wheels were in contact with the ground at any one time, and we teetered atop the aptly-named ‘big dipper’ incline before descending gracefully the other side. 

Range Rover infotainment screen showing cameras

And the Range Rover managed it all without breaking a proverbial sweat. We’d simply approach the obstacle, select the required driving mode, and plod on. And I needn’t have even done that much, because the car’s automatic terrain response is adept enough to make its own decisions.

But the best part, I think, is that having conquered the kind of terrain you’d expect to see in an Indiana Jones adventure film, my car ferried me home afterwards with all the comfort and luxury you’d expect from a Range Rover. This really is a car for all seasons – and while its Land Rover Defender sibling is even more capable when the going really gets tough, I think most people, if they can afford one in the first place, would be more comfortable in the Range Rover.

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