Supercharged Rover strong on power, luxury, off-road ability
Dating myself here, but imagine a Crocodile Dundee type character intoning, Luxury Ute? Now this is a Luxury Ute as he points to a large, muscular Range Rover SC.
The Aussie accent may seem appropriate too as Land Rover, the firm that makes Range Rovers, was for years a part of the British Empire. Now, it and Jaguar are part of Tata Motors, a large Indian manufacturing concern. India too was part of Mother England’s empire, but that’s just coincidence we suspect, when it comes to Tata’s interest in Rover. Still, Range Rovers continue to be built in England.
Rover offers several models, but the Range Rover SC equipped with a monster 5.0-liter supercharged V8 is top dog. The supercharged motor creates a Corvette-like 510 horsepower, but this off-road capable truck starts at a highly immodest $99,100 with an $895 delivery charge. That’s $100 grand in my book.
I know, I know, you’re wondering what could be worth that sort of money when perfectly good off-roading luxury utes like Jeep’s Grand Cherokee, and others, can be had for half that.
Well, a lot comes down to how you want to be perceived as you trundle into the country club parking lot or the yacht club, yet the Rover does offer a lot. However, I can tell you how you’ll be greeted at gas stations, with open arms and welcoming smiles. You’ll be leaving a rather large deposit any time you fill up.
The V8 SC is rated at 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway by the EPA, despite the truck being 700 lbs. lighter than its predecessor. I got a less than spectacular 15.9 mpg in a week’s drive that was roughly half city and half highway. Premium fuel is preferred.
But that’s just the reality of driving a supercharged V8 that weighs 5,137 lbs. Many lesser utes get equally poor gas mileage, or only slightly better.
What this Rover, and all past Rovers have offered, is the ability to go off-roading in extreme conditions. This could go axle deep in mud and muck and come out the other side. It’ll climb steep, slopping inclines. Not sure it would survive a rhino attack, but it’d sure try, and you would have plenty of airbags to protect you, at least from the initial impact.
Functionality is never a concern with a Rover. Its alloy-block engine is both strong and quiet. Its supercharger kicks in quickly and smoothly, better than most turbos. The Rover is too heavy to call snappy, but it powers up to highway speeds quickly and more smoothly than any other ute I’ve driven. An 8-speed automatic transmission helps and this one is near perfection.
Plus there’s a dial on the console that allows the driver to choose which off-roading setting will work best for the full-time 4-wheel-drive system, everything from rock crawling to sand and mud slinging. Turn the dial and within seconds you’re ready to mud wrestle.
The Rover also allows you to adjust the truck’s ride height via console buttons, in case you’re climbing tall rocks or fording deep streams. The hardest thing for most of us to fathom is taking a $100+ grand off road at all. Maybe towing a boat to an access ramp down a gravel road, but really, bury a pricy luxury truck in a bog? I don’t think so!
What you’re more likely to do is cruise the highway, which is done quietly because this Rover is well insulated. Likewise its ride is serenely smooth and well controlled. Railroad tracks and our crumbling area streets are barely noticed by Rover’s occupants. The ute’s automatic adaptive variable suspension aids in that regard.
Handling is good too, despite the ute being so tall that it looks top-heavy. Certainly stepping up into the cockpit or down out of the truck is a stretch, except for the extremely long-legged driver or passenger. Rover has 11.6 inches of ground clearance, so a running board or step would be helpful. Once inside though, front and rear seat leg and headroom are ample.
Helping give the ute good grip and a cushioned ride are 21-inch Goodyear Eagle F1 tires. Braking is excellent, as well it should be at $100 grand, with large four-wheel vented disc brakes. Hill start control is standard too.
Folks wanting to tow a trailer or large boat also will have that option as the Rover is rated to pull 7,716 lbs. Cargo room is generous in back of the second row seat, boasting 32 cubic feet and the rear seats are split and will fold down. They also recline some for more rear seat passenger comfort on longer drives.
This looks classy outside with smooth lines and shark gill trim that most folks loved, on the sides. It looks and feels classy inside too.
Inside, the metallic gold/tan test truck featured a brown over tan interior, with brown perforated leather seats, wood trim at the dash’s sides, on the console, lower stack and door arm rests. There’s brushed metal look trim on the stack’s side and atop the console, including the 4WD shift and transmission knobs. Rover’s air vents are trimmed in chrome.
I know I’m running long on this review, but there’s a lot to mention, as well there should be at this price. The doors feature a map pocket, but above that are fold-out hidden storage areas that could conceal a cell phone, stun gun (for the rhino) or other small electronics.
Its power front seats include three memory settings for the driver, plus the test ute added a 4-zone Climate Comfort Pack that adds solar attenuating glass fitted to the windshield, power rear climate seats with a reclining feature and 4-zone climate control along with a cooler box in the front-seat armrest, plus heated and cooled bucket seats with a multi-function massage feature and adjustable side bolsters. You shouldn’t have to ask, if you can afford a Rover, but this package costs $4,150
This one also had a vision assist package with blind spot monitor, mood lighting, reverse traffic detection and a surround camera system that allows you to see on both sides of the vehicle, good for close-quarters parking. It also features reverse traffic sensing, reverse traffic detection and backup camera plus adaptive Xenon headlights with high-beam assist, basically automatic high beams that come on when the road is dark and no oncoming traffic is detected. The vision assist package costs $1,760.
A tow pack adds $1,300, but gives you a full-size spare tire, active rear locking differential and armature/receiver electronics in back. The test ute also added an 825-watt Meridian premium surround sound system for $1,850 and a heated wood/leather steering wheel for $425. Nice in winter, I gotta admit!The grand total ended hit $109,480, a premium luxury price to be sure.
Standard is heated windshield glass and a power rear hatch that is split so that about a foot of rear hatch sticks up like a station wagon tailgate, once the main hatch rises. A person could easily load groceries over that gate, but if you have long flat items the tailgate also will power down, with the press of a button.
Overhead is a giant panoramic sunroof and twin sun visors so you can have one deployed for side sun and one to block oncoming sun. Good thought.
In fact, the Range Rover SC is well thought out from top to bottom, a true luxury ute that is a pleasure to drive, or ride in. There isn’t much more you’d want, however, there are a few more options, like parallel park assist, walnut wood trim and a few others.
So if you’ve got an extra $100 grand or so lying about, the Rover folks can surely work something out with you, or your peeps!
FAST Stats: 2014 Land Rover Range Rover 5.0 V8 SC
Hits: True off-roading vehicle w/4 off-road settings and full-time 4WD, major ground clearance, great power and ride. Super comfy interior, elegant looking with heated/cooled/massaging front seats, giant sunroof, twin visors, rearview camera and blind-spot warning system and boosted stereo. Power upper rear hatch and lower tailgate. Shark gill trim on ute’s side.
Misses: Price, poor gas mileage and so tall it’s tough to get in and out of this truck.
Made in: Solihull, England
Engine: 5.0-liter supercharged V8, 510 hp
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Weight: 5,137 lbs.
Tow: 7,716 lbs.
Cargo: 32.0 cu. ft.
Base Price: $99,100
Dealer’s Price: $90,677
4-zone Climate Comfort Pack (solar attenuating glass fitted to windshield, ftont cooler box, power rear climate seats w/recline, lumbar, fold and front seat passenger away, heated/cooled front bucket seats, multi-function massage and adj. bolsters, 4-zone climate control), $4,150
Vision assist package (blind spot monitor, mood lighting, reverse traffic detection, Surround camera system, reverse traffic sensing, reverse traffic detection, Surround camera, adaptive Xenon headlights w/High Beam Assist), $1,760
Rover tow pack (full-size spare tire, active rear locking differential, NAS armature/receiver w/electronics), $1,300
825-watt Meridian premium surround sound, $1,850
Heated wood/leather steering wheel, $425
Test vehicle: $109,480
Sources: Land Rover, www.autos.yahoo.com
Photos: Courtesy of Land Rover