Ask most people to picture a luxury suv and the unmistakable silhouette of a Range Rover forms immediately in their mind’s eye. The very epitome of opulent off roading, the Land Rover Range Rover occupies a rarified place in the annals of automobiles.
Surprisingly, the luxury we’ve come to expect from today’s Range Rover was not always a given. While they were always intended to be robust vehicles with a healthy dollop of civility, the earliest Range Rovers, introduced in 1970, used vinyl upholstery and plastic dashboards. Carpet, power steering, a/c, leather upholstery, and wood trim were notably absent from their spec sheets. Those earliest Range Rovers were about utility first, designed as they were — literally — to be washed out with a garden hose.
With a reputation forged as the go-to vehicle for African safaris, traversing continents (a squadron of Range Rovers were the first production-based vehicles to drive from the top of North America to the tip of South America), and basically going anywhere a regular car had no shot at making it back from, Range Rovers quickly became the de facto “Rolls-Royce” of SUVs.
The fact their asking price was so high only served to make them more desirable.
In the forty-plus years since that first Range Rover emerged from Solihull, England, there have been but three generations offered. In fact, during the time the Range Rover has been in existence, the Land Rover company has seen more different owners (four to be exact, British Aerospace, BMW, Ford, and Tata) than generations of the Range Rover. For the purposes of this article, we’ll cover the two most recent, built from 1994 to the present (2011).