2014 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Road Test & Review: Introduction
For the way most people employ them, buying a Land Rover Range Rover is the equivalent of buying an aircraft carrier to go water skiing. The depth and breadth of the Range Rover’s capabilities far exceed anything a good 90 percent of the people who purchase one will ever require.
Let’s face it, do you really need a 4,900-pound, all-wheel drive, six foot tall vehicle with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, nine feet of wheelbase, a 6,724-pound gross weight, a 7,716-pound towing capacity, and a five and a half foot wide track—to get little Ashley to ballet class?
Suddenly that aircraft carrier analogy isn’t looking so exaggerated—is it?
Factor in the Land Rover Range Rover’s ability to surf Moroccan sand dunes, scale the Ukraine mountains, and tow a 2,500-pound Airstream trailer to the top of the Atlas mountains—one of the highest points in Africa—and back, and actually that aircraft carrier starts coming up a bit short in comparison.
After all, have you ever seen an aircraft carrier tow an Airstream up a mountain?
But we digress.
The fact of the matter is the Land Rover Range Rover’s refined four-wheel drive powertrain, sophisticated terrain management systems, (yes—plural), amazing articulated suspension system, surround view cameras, exceptionally powerful engines, and of course the positively palatial accommodations for which the top Land Rover model is well known, make it one of, if not THE most capable luxury SUV ever offered for sale. For 2014, the model comes to market with newfound efficiencies in the form of a supercharged V6 engine and an all-aluminum monococque responsible for both paring weight and adding a newfound degree of agility and fuel economy.
Without question, this is the best Range Rover the Land Rover company has ever offered.
2014 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Road Test & Review: Models & Prices
Land Rover is building the 2014 Range Rover in two basic models with four different trim packages. The base Range Rover starts at $83,545 and features as standard equipment; a set of 19-inch alloy wheels and an adjustable air suspension system capable of lowering the Range Rover at speed on the highway to reduce drag and improve fuel economy.
The base 2014 Range Rover also features front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, LED daytime running lights in a signature pattern, heated and power-folding exterior side-view mirrors, a two-piece power actuated clamshell-style rear liftgate, automatic xenon headlights, and dark tinted privacy glass. Naturally, keyless entry and start are included, along with a tri-zone automatic climate control system, eight-way power adjustments for the front seats, manually reclining rear seats, and driver memory settings for seat position, audio system setup, and mirror positioning.
Further, leather upholstery, along with a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column, and a heated steering wheel are also included in the base price. Rounding out this broad array of standard features is an eight-inch touchscreen interface with voice control for most infotainment functions, including navigation. Bluetooth phone and audio streaming support a 13-speaker Meridian audio system with USB, iPod, and auxiliary audio input ports, along with both satellite and high definition radio.
To all of the above, the $88,545 Range Rover HSE adds; a unique set of 20-inch alloy wheels, along with foglights, a full-length panoramic sunroof, and auto-dimming side view exterior mirrors. A set of 12-way power front seats replaces the eight-way seats in the base model, along with heated rear seats and more supple leather upholstery.
If all of that isn’t enough, you can opt for the $99,995 Range Rover Supercharged package, which adds a supercharged V8 engine, a distinct set of 21-inch alloy wheels, a stainless steel pedal package, and Land Rover’s automatic Terrain Response system along with all of the contents of the Range Rover’s HSE package.
Those for whom enough is not ever enough would do well to consider the top of the line $135,995 Range Rover Autobiography package. Its feature-set adorns that already decadently iced cake with a set of Autobiography-specific 21-inch wheels, and an amazing leather trim package—which includes the headliner and dashboard along with the seats, steering wheel, door panels, shift knob, and all of the typical stuff. For Autobiography Range Rovers a set of 18-way-adjustable front seats with both massage and of course memory are specified.
Capping it off is an amazingly accurate and detailed 29-speaker Meridian audio system, capable of delivering what is referred to as a 3D surround-sound experience for everyone in the Rover’s passenger compartment—regardless of their seating position.
2014 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Road Test & Review: Design
For this, the GEN4 iteration of the classic Range Rover’s profile, Land Rover chose an evolutionary path. The 2014 Land Rover Range Rover has a clean and elegant shape derived from a fresh new interpretation of the traditional Range Rover design cues.
While the new Land Rover is instantly recognizable as a Range Rover, the luxurious SUV takes a significant step forward with a tasteful evolution of the model's iconic design language. "Designing the next generation Range Rover, following over forty years of success, came with a huge responsibility to protect the DNA of such an icon," says Gerry McGovern, Land Rover design director and chief creative officer. "Our design team worked incredibly hard to capture the elegant proportions and pure surfaces which have been a feature of the best Range Rover designs."
The tall profile is still there, the “floating” roof is still there, and the side vents return as well—but with a new visual treatment. There is no mistaking the vehicle for anything but a Range Rover, so closely the model adheres to the styling language established for the top Land Rover model.
2014 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Road Test & Review: Comfort & Cargo
Once you climb up into the passenger cabin of the Range Rover—and yes, we do mean climb—the accommodations awaiting you are absolutely first cabin. In addition to the sumptuous materials employed, the very architecture of the interior imparts the message; “You are sitting in a ride of substance—be appreciative.”
Spaciousness is a given, what’s also a given is the overall comfort of the interior—unless you are of shorter stature. One of our passengers, at 5’4” found the front passenger seat of the Range Rover to be something of an uncomfortable experience. The seat’s bottom cushion was too long for her legs, so her feet wouldn’t rest flat on the floor. Even with the seat adjusted to its lowest position, she couldn’t get her feet planted squarely on the floor.
This contributed to her fatigue over the course of a longer drive. She did manage to find some relief by adjusting her seat forward so her feet could reach the angled floorboard. However, in so doing, she found herself so far forward, the potential deployment of an airbag could have been a serious safety issue. She was sitting too close to the dash. She also had a tough time clambering up into the Range Rover, even with its suspension lowered to access mode.
This could also be a problem for children.
Still, for most people, the comfort of the Range Rover’s interior is beyond reproach. The seats are exceptionally supportive and even the base model’s seats offer enough adjustability to find considerable comfort. The rear seats offer more than adequate legroom.
When it comes to cargo, the Range Rover will handle some 32 cubic feet of materiel with the rear seats deployed, and nearly 72 cubic feet with the seats folded. The two-piece rear hatch, though at first glance a bit cumbersome, actually makes it easier to slide heavier items into the Range Rover’s cargo hold.
2014 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Road Test & Review: Engines/Fuel Economy
For the 2014 model year, Land Rover is offering a choice of two supercharged engines for the Range Rover—though only one version of the Land Rover SUV is referred to as “supercharged”.
The base model Range Rover and Range Rover HSE are fitted with a supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine capable of producing 340 horsepower and 332 ft-lbs of torque. The Range Rover Sport Supercharged gets a 5.0-liter V8 engine, also fitted (as its name implies) with a supercharger. This powerplant whirls out 510 horsepower and 461 ft-lbs of torque.
Both the Range Rover and the Range Rover Supercharged—as you’d expect from Land Rover—use fulltime four-wheel drive. In addition to the exceptionally robust full-time four-wheel drive system, Range Rovers also feature low-range gearing for serious off-road duty.
Land Rover's Terrain Response system allows the driver to optimize powertrain, suspension and electronic stability and traction-control functions for five different traction situations. This goes one step farther on the Range Rover Supercharged model also offered as an option on the base Range Rover) with Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2 system, The innovation here is an automatic function commanding the system to select the most appropriate setting for the situation. To enhance capabilities further, a locking rear differential is optional on the Supercharged and standard with the Autobiography package. An eight-speed automatic transmission funnels engine output to the wheels regardless of engine choice.
Our HSE test vehicle was fitted with the supercharged V6. The EPA said to expect 17 miles per gallon in the city, 23 on the highway, and 19 combined. We found this to be quite accurate, as we averaged some 19 miles per gallon overall. The 5.0-liter supercharged V8’s fuel economy is estimated at 13 mpg in the city, 19 on the highway, and 15 combined.
2014 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions
Good Lord you feel superior driving down the highway behind the wheel of a Land Rover Range Rover!
First of all, regardless of your engine choice, you’ve got far more power than you’ll ever need. The 340-horsepower V6 in our tester propelled the big SUV to 60 miles per hour in under seven seconds.
Then, there’s the uncanny quiet and smoothness exhibited by the 2014 Range Rover HSE. Underway, you can tell what’s going on way down there at the road’s surface. However, like Downton Abbey’s Carson, the Land Rover dutifully informs its master, while remaining supremely unperturbed by the situation—confident in its ability to handle whatever may come.
In all honesty, we didn’t realize how much so, until we drove back over the same segment of road in a different car and noticed just how rough an experience it really could have been. The big Rover essentially glides over the pavement, its suspension system soaking up every untoward circumstance—permitting no alarming intrusions into the passenger compartment.
The response of all control mechanisms to driver input is polished, smooth and immediate. Traveling at high speeds on the highway, the Range Rover is as much in its element as it is slogging through three feet of mud in a swamp, pummeling boulders into submission on a rutted mountain trail, or kicking up huge rooster tails of sand in the desert.
2014 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Road Test & Review: Safety Equipment
The 2014 Land Rover Range Rover’s aluminum unit body structure is both strong and lightweight. Designed to accept the extraordinary torsional loads offroad situations can impose, it is configured for considerable stiffness, structural integrity, and safety.
All of the contemporary suspects are present and accounted for in the Range Rover’s suite of safety kit. These include four antilock disc brakes, as well as traction and stability control, (enhanced by rollover prevention and speed limited hill descent). Driver and front passenger benefit from front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, front-seat active head restraints, and a driver-side knee airbag. Rounding the package to comprehensiveness are front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, and Rover’s Emergency Braking Assist function, which employs forward-sensing radar to prime the brake system—if an unavoidable collision seems to be about to transpire.
The Range Rover also offers an array of optional higher tech safety solutions. These include Land Rover’s Vision Assist package, which folds in blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic detection, and a surround-view video system. The Range Rover’s adaptive cruise control with Intelligent Emergency Braking function, can engage full-force braking to stop the car if the driver is unable to. Also, the 2014 Land Rover Range Rover’s optional self-parking function can extricate itself from a parking space, as well as park the vehicle both parallel and perpendicularly.
2014 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Road Test & Review: Final Thoughts
Saying this is the best Range Rover Land Rover has ever produced is a bit like saying ice cream is the best dessert ever. We all know ice cream is good, that kinda goes without saying. Similarly, we’re talking Range Rover here—of course it’s really good.
That said, there are alternatives out there these days; Porsche, Mercedes, and Lexus all have competing models. However, none of those have the luscious aura of luxurious exclusivity the Range Rover boasts. Further, the Range Rover’s ability to take you anywhere any reasonable person (and more than a few unreasonable people) would ever try to go, adds a layer of utility to the flagship Land Rover.
Yes, the Mercedes and Lexus offerings are equally proficient in the mud, sand, snow and rocks, but again, they don’t really match the degree of sumptuousness the Range Rover affords its occupants. Every time you get into a Range Rover, you can see where a goodly portion of the purchase price went—even if the SUV is standing still.
2014 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Road Test & Review: Pros & Cons
• Exceptionally comfortable and luxurious
• Outstanding smoothness
• More than adequate power
• Competent handling
• A true style icon
• Short people should definitely try before they buy
• While the astounding off road capability is good to have, we bet Range Rover would sell just as well without it—and at a lower price point.