The Truth About Cars » Range Rover The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:19:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Range Rover Capsule Review: 2014 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:00:07 +0000 2014 Land Rover range rover evoque front 34

This has never happened to me before. Four different women complimented me on this vehicle. I’m guessing they were somewhere between 25 and 45 years old – it’s really difficult to tell these days. They were all fit, attractive (-ish), wore fancy sunglasses, and carried equally fancy bags which complemented their outfits. They all loved this baby Range Rover. To them, it represented an essential accessory that would complete them. That, my friends, is a marketing success.

2014 Land Rover range rover evoque rear

The Evoque does not sit well with a Land Rover enthusiast such as myself. My earliest television memories are of Camel Trophy races. In college, I spent six weeks driving around southern Africa in a Defender 110. In 2002, I attempted to enter the G4 Challenge. If I could, I would put NATO steel wheels and mud-terrain tires on every big Range Rover in existence. And yet, here I am driving this car that has R A N G E R O V E R written across this hood failing to justify its existence. Clearly, the hotties know something I don’t.

The problem with enthusiasts is that we forget that car companies’ first goal is to be profitable. Rest assured that Jaguar-Land Rover won’t quickly forget their corporate experiences of the past two decades. The good thing is that at the rate they are going they won’t have to worry about it. There are waiting lists for new Range Rovers and the Jaguar F-type is just drop dead gorgeous. With attractive lease rates, the Evoques have been appearing at newly constructed loft style condominiums everywhere.

2014 Land Rover range rover evoque dash interior

No matter what your opinion on Evoque’s styling, it has clearly become part of the Land Rover design language, as seen in the new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. While the bigger vehicles have more masculine styling, this baby Rover looks striking and athletic, and therefore more appealing to the above mentioned ladies, who are clearly its target customers. Unlike Rovers of the past, this is form-over-function design. The slick sporty exterior lines have opposing effect on interior space, overall utility, and rear visibility, all of which have been Range Rover trademarks for due to their two-box design and large windows.

Front seats are comfortable but legroom and headroom are lacking for back seat passengers. Overall interior materials are nice, but not to the level of the big Range Rovers. The huge panoramic roof gives the cabin a very airy feel, but oddly enough it does not open. The infotainment system is the typical slow and outdated model seen on all JLR vehicles; it Bluetooths, in streams, it navs, it syncs, and it even offers some interesting options which I’d gladly trade for increased ease of use.

2014 Land Rover range rover evoque trunk

Some will find the round pop-up shifter irritating, but now that almost all automakers have switched to electronic shifters, I found it more acceptable. Below it is the AWD Terrain Response system and hill ascent control, which I have not had an opportunity to evaluate – and chances are that neither will most buyers. The rest of center console consists of are two cup-holders, two 12v receptacles, a cubby for your cell phone, and a storage bin capable of storing the fanciest of purses.

The direct-injected 2.0 liter turbo four-cylinder produces 240hp and 250lb-ft. The vehicle feels peppy above 2500rpm, but with the transmission is in D, it likes to up-shift early. This sometimes puts a delay in acceleration, as the transmission will hunt the proper gear out of the nine it has available. Turning the shifter knob to S makes things smoother, but it’s still best to avoid lower engine speeds. There are also paddle shifters but I can’t imagine anyone actually using them.

2014 Land Rover range rover evoque interior details

The 2014 Evoque is rated at 21mpg in the city and 30mpg on the highway, a slight increase from the past model years due to the new nine-speed transmission. Also new is the engine start/stop system, which is one of the most annoying things on any new car, but easily disabled with a press of dash mounted button. My real world numbers achieved on short, traffic infested city runs and enthusiastic highway runs in sport mode resulted in an average of about 22-24mpg.

The starting price for the Range Rover Evoque 5-door is $42,025. The pictured vehicle has the Pure Plus Package, Xenon/LED headlights, cameras everywhere, dub wheels, fancy leather, adaptive cruise control, contrasting black roof and a number of other gizmos. The price for this almost fully loaded Evoque is $59,140, which includes a destination charge.

2014 Land Rover range rover evoque side

The main goal of the Evoque was to attract new customers to the Land Rover dealership; those with smaller budgets, those who do not need a large SUV, and those who never considered a Land Rover before. It has achieved that goal with the lure of brand image, styling, and Posh Spice’s approval. Based on those facets alone, Land Rover will sell each one as fast as they can make them.


Kamil Kaluski is the east coast editor for Read his ramblings on eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous car stuff there. 

Land Rover provided the vehicle for this review.

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Landwind E32 Bites (And Patents) Evoque’s Style For Local Market Wed, 30 Apr 2014 12:00:25 +0000 landwind-e32-china-3

It seems Mrs. Beckham (and Range Rover) may have to deal with another brand knocking-off her style, thanks to Landwind’s introduction of the E32 soft-roader SUV.

CarNewsChina reports the Jiangling Motor Holding’s brand — which sells its wares in Europe as well as in its native market — is seeking to patent the Evoque-esque SUV’s design for the Chinese market, which will grace showrooms sometime in Q4 2014 for a price of 120,000 yuan, or just under $20,000 USD as of this writing; the Evoque’s base price is just over $41,000 for comparison.

Powering the E32 — based upon a shortened Landwind X8 — is a 2-liter turbo-four that delivers not Mrs. Beckham’s 240 horses and 250 lb-ft of sand-dune scaling torque, but instead just 190 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. In addition, the power will be channeled through either six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic, as opposed to the Evoque’s nine-speed automatic and six-speed manual and automatic options.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Range Rover Sport Fri, 31 Jan 2014 14:00:10 +0000 photo (14)

“I could have had a V8!” was the tagline for a foul tonic of liquified vegetables and spices sold by Campbell’s, but also a metaphor for the deadly automotive sin of purchasing a V6 muscle car. In my own lifetime, I remember when anyone with a Y chromosome that willingly purchased a 6-cylinder pony car was derided as a skinflint at best, effete at worst. It wasn’t until the second decade of the 2000′s that things changed. The V6s on offer suddenly became legitimate options for ponycar buyers.

The V6 Mustang was no longer a secretary special, but a legitimate sports car, offering comparable straight line performance with the old Mod Motor Mustangs, and able to dispatch its import competition around a road course. The GM HFX V6 and Chrysler Pentastar V6s went a long way to raise the game of the rental-spec Camaros and LX/LY chassis cars respectively, making it hard for us to imagine that the old 2.7 Chrysler V6 and the GM 3.9L ever existed. That doesn’t mean that you should willingly opt for two less cylinders. Not in a pony car. But in a Range Rover Sport, it wouldn’t be the worst thing.

photo (10)

If not for some scheduling screw-ups, I would have only driven the car you see above, a Range Rover Sport Supercharged model finished in the kind of discrete shade of grey typically favored by buyers of these cars. Since my parking spot is on the 6th floor of an underground garage, I had to have my condo’s concierge spot me as I made my way down the ramps (with the adjustable air suspension set to “Access” mode, which lowers the ride height), as I sweated bullets while trying to avoid contact with the garage’s giant air ducts, fearful that I’d have to explain the enormous scratches on the roof of the Rover.

Before I moved in, I had the big boy Range Rover Supercharged, and came off less than impressed. The prior-generation Range Rover was once the superior vehicle, with the LR4-based Range Sport a dreadful, cut-rate alternative, with awful dynamics and an unfortunate association with fans of Tapout clothing. Not so anymore. The full-size Rover, the Official State Vehicle of the Kardashian Republic of Calabasis, takes a back seat to the Sport. The new baby Range is bloody brilliant. It makes the big one redundant.

My intial impression was only confirmed by my stint in the V6, which came a few weeks after my time in the V8. After my scheduled press car was pulled, I was given a consolation prize in the form of a Range Rover Sport in HSE trim, which comes with the 3.0L Supercharged V6 found in the Jaguar XJ and the “base” trim F-Type.

In typical driving scenarios, both V6 and V8 versions are functionally identical. While the full-size Range Rover has adopted a feel that would be traditionally ascribed to a large American sedan, the Sport has a character of its own. The numb steering and floaty ride of the big Range are nowhere to be found. Instead, the Sport is composed and even a little firm, without being harsh, while the steering has a heft and level of communication on par with the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. The quality of the interior materials is superb, with supple leather liberally appointed throughout the cabin, along with the aluminum accents and piano black trim that is currently en vogue in the premium segment. There’s very little noise, aside from what’s playing on the Meridian sound system. The infotainment system is easy to operate, with a big touch screen and a fairly intuitive menu. There are even arm rests for the front bucket seats, which were a hit with my passengers riding shotgun.

The absence of two cylinders in the HSE is only apparent when you step on it. The V6′s 340 horsepower comes on after a brief pause, while the Supercharged V8′s 510 ponies present themselves in a much more apparent fashion. Both have more than enough power, though the Supercharged version’s extra grunt can generate triple digit speeds in a much quicker manner. Shifts are handled by the ubiquitous ZF 8-speed automatic, which is civilized when left in “D”, and far more responsive when shifted into “S”.

The real tie-breaker between the two is the Supercharged model’s “Dynamic Mode”. Shift the Supercharged into Sport mode and adjust the console mounted rotary dial to the far left, and the Supercharged adopts a fight-or-flight like response: the stocks stiffen, the shifts quicken and the throttle mapping becomes markedly more aggressive.

The change in demeanor is startling. In Dynamic Mode, the Supercharged version feels like a very well appointed Cherokee SRT, lunging forward with a carnivorous intensity. You wouldn’t expect something this tall and bulky to handle so well, but like the SRT, it manages to challenge your perceptions of what an SUV is capable of.  When you’re done flinging the two-and-a-half tonne aluminum bobseld along the piste, you can push the shifter back into drive, take it out of Dynamic Mode and get back on your way to the yoga studio.

Trying to achieve the same results in the HSE is far less gratifying, and not advisable. But at least the differences in capabilities are clearly demarcated. If you really want a something like a Grand Cherokee SRT or a Mercedes-Benz ML63 but suffer from an acute case of Anglophilia, spring for the $79,995 Supercharged. For everything else, including school runs, trips to Whole Foods and the yacht club, the HSE will suffice. You coulda had a V8, but you’ll save nearly $12,000 and have 98 percent of the capabilities of both the Supercharged, and a much better car than the $84,000 full-size Range Rover.

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About Motoring Journalists And Luxury Diesels Mon, 20 Jan 2014 12:00:14 +0000



Recently, I spent some of my procrastinating time in Facebook discussion with a colleague, motoring journalist here in Czech Republic. He was driving a new Range Rover at the time, and he was raving about how great car it was. But there was one flaw, he said. The car came with the most common engine on our market – the TDV6 diesel. And while it didn’t really lack power and was reasonable refined, even for the luxury car it is, there was one thing it just lacked. A V8. Preferably, of the gasoline-burning kind.

Which naturally led to crucial question: Why do things like a six cylinder, diesel-powered Range Rover even exist. And why are so many people buying them? You may say that it’s a natural response to the fact that a Range Rover 5.0 V8, or the more appropriate 5.0 Supercharged, is gulping the gas in horrendous quantities, and gas is expensive in Europe. So it’s better to have the more frugal car.

But my reply will be: So what?

Let me elaborate on this a little. Imagine that you are really in the shoes of someone who can afford the Range Rover. Someone, who is either so succesful and affluent, or so fiscally careless, that he can treat himself with one of the most luxurious, most prestigious and of course also most expensive mass produced cars.

Someone who is content with the idea that his shiny, brand new Range, which cost him about the price of a small house (at least here in the Czech Republic) will be worth about a third of the price, maybe even less, when he will be selling it in some 3 years.

You buy a new Range diesel for some 130 thousand Euros, or $170k. You drive it for three years and decide that you want a new one. So you sell it, or trade it in, and get another shiny new one. A nice example of a 2010 Range Rover with some 40k miles (typical mileage of a normal European driver in three years) will fetch something like €40-45k (about $60k). And that’s a V8 one, because a V6 diesel wasn’t available then.

This means the thing cost you about 90 thousand Euros, or 120 thousand dollars, in those three years/40k miles. With simple math, we arrive to a rather staggering cost of THREE DOLLARS PER MILE. Or, put another way, a 109 dollars per day, even if the sucker is parked. Which is, even at European prices, about half a tank of gas.

And it’s the same story for other luxury SUVs, as well as posh sedans. The value drop may be a little less harsh for a sporty coupe, like a 911 or a Jag XK, or some supercar. But any “normal” luxury car will cost you dearly.

Let’s put this into some perspective. If we look at the actual fuel mileage of the current generation of Range Rovers (using great fuel economy tracking site, we see that a TDV6 Rangie will need roughly 11 liters of diesel fuel for every 100 kilometers (or 62 miles) travelled. This translates to roughly 22mpg. The monstrous, ineffective gas hog that is the 5.0 Supercharged will gulp a horrendous amount of 15 liters of gasoline for the same distance. Which is about 15mpg.

So, time for more math. Gasoline is just a tiny bit more expensive in some part of Europe, while in many countries (like my homeland), it costs the same. But let’s say that a liter of gas costs a €1.50, while a liter of diesel costs €1.40. This translates in €15.40 ($20) per 100km (62 miles) for the diesel and €22.50 ($30) for the Supercharged. Which means that each mile will cost you €0.24 ($0.32) and €0.36 ($0.48) for the big one.

This makes the difference in fuel costs between the two cars a whopping DIME AND A HALF. For a vehicle which costs about three dollars a mile in depreciation costs alone, plus some more for servicing costs, tires and other stuff. Which will, in the end, make one mile worth about four dollars.

Buying a diesel car, which, however nice the modern diesels may be, is still slower and less refined than the “proper” one, will thus save you about 2.5 percent of the TCO. To me, this seems a bit like drinking Dom Perignon out of a plastic cup to save on glassware.

Of course, there are cases where diesel engines make sense for expensive cars. An A8 or a S420CDI, used for frequent business trips across Europe may easily rack those 40 thousand miles in a single year, and may well be kept around for 4 or 5 years, making the depreciation costs less significant, and the fuel costs much more important. And the same goes for hotel limos and other heavily driven cars.

But people are still buying diesels even when they don’t drive that much. Look at some European car classifieds site, like, and you will find surprisingly many low-mileage luxurious diesels.

Why are people doing that? Is it that the rich tend to be savvy and look at every penny? Or is it just a habit from the times when they weren’t so rich and the lower running costs of a VW TDI actually mattered? Or is it that they just hate gas stations and rather live with the worse engine, just so they don’t have to fill up so often?

My theory is different. I think that motoring journalists may be at fault.

As you probably know (especially if you read TTAC a lot), motoring hacks typically aren’t exactly rich. To make a living from driving brand new cars, travelling around the world and writing about it is so enticing a prospect in itself that it’s not necessary to pay people big bucks for doing it.

So, most of us will only experience the Range Rover or S-klasse through the relatively short, usually a week-long test. Some of us may actually buy those cars – in 10 or 20 years, when someone else already swallowed all the depreciation costs. The Range Rover costs about the same money as our apartment, and likely more than we actually make in three years. And the only expense we actually get to feel, is the price of fuel.

I’m not sure about other countries, but here in CZ, the journos usually pay for their gas. You get the obligatory full tank at the beginning of the week, some more generous magazines may provide you with fuel for photoshoots and so on, but after that, you have to fill up for your own money.

And, since average European motoring journo usually spends most of the time behind the wheel of diesel hatchbacks, diesel MPVs and other slow, unglamorous and in fact rather boring stuff, he tends to make the most of his week with an expensive car. He shows off, gives friends rides, shows what the big V8 can do. So, he racks up awful lot of miles, and since the rare experience with the powerful car has to be lived to the fullest, has a lead foot. So the Range won’t get 15mpg, like it does in the hand of someone who is accustomed to the power of the V8, but barely reaches 10. Which makes filling the 100 liter fuel tank inevitable and very, very painful.

I actually remember that one time, I voluntarily decided to exchange press Audi S5 Sportback for a lowly Skoda Fabia mid-week, solely on the grounds of the fact that in my rather “spirited” driving, the Audi got about 10mpg on average (and something like four or five when tearing the backroads – the supercharged V6 is only better than the 4.2 V8 on paper) and cost me $150 in the first two days. While the Fabia got 40 mpg and, more importantly, a tank full of gas I didn’t have to pay for.

For most journos, such experience is enough to write something along the lines of “the 5.0 Supercharged is a remarkably refined and powerful, but it will bankrupt you with fuel costs, so the six-cylinder diesel is the more prudent choice”.

But it isn’t. If you do some real job and are so succesful and affluent that you can afford a new Range Rover or A8, fuel costs will not bankrupt you. Actually, in the total cost of running such car, you won’t even feel it. And if you’re worried about the polar bears – think of all the people who won’t breathe soot from another diesel truck instead.

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic, who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, and serves as editor-in-chief at After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives a borrowed Lincoln Town Car. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

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Jaguar’s New Crossover Makes Sense In Today’s Market Sun, 08 Sep 2013 21:00:12 +0000 ku-bigpic

In advance of its public debut at the upcoming Frankfurt show, Jaguar has dropped a front 3/4 beauty shot and other images of its new compact crossover. Since there’s no shortage of wailing and gnashing of teeth from those who see this as a Porsche Cayenne level brand heresy, and since I’m a contrarian non-comformist by nature, I’m going to swim against the stream and say that the CX-17 or whatever they end up calling it, makes sense, or at least it can in today’s market. Compact (and smaller) crossovers are the hot thing in the car biz these days. Lexus just released images of a LF-NX compact crossover concept that presumably will also be revealed at the Frankfurt show. GM is looking to shuffle production because GM Korea can’t build enough Buick Encores and Opel Mokkas. Land Rover is having record monthly sales, in part due to the success of the Evoque.

Which raises the question, why build a small Jaguar crossover when Jaguar Land Rover already builds the Evoque? That’s a good question but I think JLR’s product planners understand the difference between a Jaguar and a Land Rover, and also between a Land Rover and a Range Rover. If you note, the Evoque is branded as a Land Rover, not a Range Rover. JLR already offers two different flavors of midsize SUVs, built on the same platform, the LR4/Discovery and the sportier, more elegant Range Rover Sport, and that distinction is carried over to the company’s full size SUVs, the Range Rover and the Land Rover Defender, which is not currently sold in the U.S. While there is plenty of component sharing being done, the company appears to carefully distinguish between the luxurious Range Rovers and the more utilitarian Landies.


Why then market a luxury compact SUV as a Jaguar and not a Range Rover? Another good question and I’m sure those product planners have considered it. I don’t have a great answer for that question but I do think it oddly might have something to do with not wanting to affect the Range Rover subbrand, seen an a vehicle with all of the capabilities of a Land Rover, but also comfortable and truly luxurious. Right now there are only two vehicles that carry the Range Rover brand, the original full size version and the Sport, which as alluded to above is really a LR4 with Range Rover looking body panels and a Range Rover looking interior. I’m sure that plenty of people think that the Range Rover Sport is  a sporty variant of the Range Rover, rather than an upscale LR4.


Making an entry level Range Rover might be like Packard offering the “junior” Packards in the 1930s, good in the short term but long term it may lower the prestige of the brand. The question might be better phrased as “why not a compact Range Rover crossover?”


If a crossover at that price point might hurt Range Rover,  then won’t it hurt the Jaguar brand? Jaguar has no reputation as a builder of utility vehicles, upscale or utilitarian, at all, so they have no reputation in that segment to hurt, just as Porsche didn’t with the Cayenne. We enthusiasts may bemoan the “damage” that the Cayenne does to the Porsche brand, but the simple truth is that the Cayenne makes SUVs full of cash for Porsche and the VW group. Selling a compact crossover as a Jaguar may have less downside than as a Range Rover, with just as much upside or more.


There’s also the issue of brand recognition. Though we live in an age when even non-enthusiasts know that a Lotus is a kind of sports car and hip hoppers rap about Aventadors, I’d still guess that Jaguar has better brand recognition, particularly in the U.S., than either Land Rover or Range Rover.


Just as JLR probably knows the difference between a Land Rover and a Range Rover, they know the difference between those brands and Jaguar. I’m guessing that you do too. Do I have to lay out how a Jaguar crossover would be different than one with the LR or RR brand? Just as Porsche can and does market the Cayenne as an authentic Porsche, heir to Ferdinand and Ferry Porsche’s sports cars, so Jaguar can sell the CX-17 as the Jaguar of crossovers, with an air of cosseting that even Range Rovers don’t have. A proper suburban car, a Jaguar crossover would not have to have all of that off-road-ready gear that buyers of Land Rovers and Range Rovers expect on their vehicles, even if they may never use it. It could also trade on the part of Jaguar’s heritage that has to do with performance, just as Porsche has done. Just writing that it seems to me that Jaguar can bring more in terms of brand image to a crossover than Porsche can with its new Macan. Porsche is known as a maker of sports cars. Jaguar is known as a maker of fast, luxurious and comfortable cars.

Or, think of it this way: do you think the average suburban mom would rather drive a vehicle with a Land Rover, Range Rover or Jaguar nameplate on it?


It might work. We all laugh at the “Jeep” Compass, intended to sell to people put off by the more rugged looks and capabilities of the Patriot. The decision by Chrysler to build both of those Jeeplets from the same platform (shared with the also derided Dodge Caliber), again, is one of those things that prompts a lot of critical questioning? How much better would the Patriot have been if money wasn’t spent on the Compass? The answer is who knows? If you note, the Compass survived Chrysler’s bankruptcy, has been refreshed a couple of times, and you can buy a brand new 2014 model at your local Jeep dealer. I assume that after all that the reason why you can still buy them is that they are profitable for Chrysler. Selling a compact Jaguar crossover in the same showroom as a Land Rover Evoque might also be profitable.


Ultimately, profitability is the measure of success in the auto industry. Performance, brand image and all the rest don’t really matter as long as a car or truck turns a profit. The reason why JLR will sell this as a Jaguar and not a Land Rover is because they think they’ll make more money that way. I think they’re right.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Review: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit (Video) Fri, 12 Jul 2013 20:47:00 +0000 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

I got a call from my folks a year ago. It went something like this: “your mom wants a new Grand Cherokee for her birthday, what do you think?” I called up Chrysler and snagged a 2013 Grand Cherokee Overland Summit, the last major Mercedes/Chrysler vehicle to launch before Fiat took the reins. I came to the conclusion the American Range Rover was all kinds of crazy, had drivetrain deficiencies and she should wait until the 2014 refresh. That refresh has landed, so should mom buy one?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Mom [not so] secretly wants a Range Rover, but living in the middle-of-nowhere Texas, the only dealers within 70 miles sell Detroit’s wares. Bang went the Range Rover Sport.

The 2011 GC was a shock to the Jeep faithful. Not because it is the Mercedes ML’s half-brother, which itself is quasi related to the Mercedes E-Class, which is quasi related to the Chrysler 300. (My incest is complicated isn’t it?) What shocked Rubicon runners was the combination of independent suspension and portly curb weight. If you haven’t gotten over that shock, stop reading now.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes


2014 brings a trimline reshuffle to the GC. The Laredo X is replaced by a cheaper Laredo E, and the Summit ditches “Overland” to become a separate trim at the top of the range. There is more going on here than just trim renaming if you read between the lines. In 2013, the “Overland Summit” was a GC with all the luxury AND all the offroad bits. In 2014, the Summit is the realization that people don’t take their $52,000-$57,000 Jeep rock crawling any more than Range Rover owners joyride in the Sahara on weekends. As a result the 2014 Summit loses the skid plates and tow hooks found on lesser models and doesn’t have an option to add them from the factory.

For 2014 we get a de-chromed tailgate, new bumper covers, exhaust tips and a headlamp re-style. In addition to the removal of the large chrome strip below the tailgate glass, Jeep has gone up-market with more aggressive tail lamps and more differentiated trims. Laredo and Limited models get new bumper covers with round exhaust tips while premium trims get trendy trapezoids. Further cleaning up the Overland and Summit models, the hitch receiver and 4/7 pin trailer wiring connector are hidden behind a panel in the bumper. Speaking of towing, the factory towing setup is no longer available on base Laredo models. Want to haul? Step up to that Laredo E.

The GC’s grille has become less prominent and more integrated. Foglamps have shrunk to an almost cartoonishly small proportion, and the lower air intake gets a more aggressive shape. Overland and Summit models get LED daytime running lamps, headlamp washers and a design reminiscent of the refreshed Chrysler 300. While some of our Facebook users whined about the black strip under the lamp, it didn’t bother me.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes


The GC’s interior sees more evolution than expected. 2014 brings a new steering wheel with optional heating, a revised center console with the latest uConnect systems, upgraded wood trim and the same 7-inch LCD disco dash found in other Chryslers. The 7-inch LCD gauge cluster is flanked by a traditional tachometer, fuel and temperature gauge. The unit puts the Jeep well ahead of the competition and, interestingly, a notch below the full 11-inch LCD cluster used in Range Rovers.

Laredo and Limited shoppers get soft touch injection molded door and dash bits, while the premium trims get Chrysler’s latest fix for interior plastic problems: stitched leather. If you look at the photo above, everything above the wood trim is soft stitched leather and everything below is hard plastic. As long as you keep your hands above the meridian you’re in for a premium experience equal to the most expensive luxury cars in America. Drop below and you’re in Chevy-Cruze-land. That’s not unusual for a mass market vehicle however, and 2014 brings near flawless color matching (finally). Our summit tester took things up a notch by coating the hard plastic A-pillars, sun visors and headliner in Alcantara faux suede. The awkward gated shifter is gone, replaced by an Audi-esque joystick affair.  On the down side, the plastic center console trim scratches easily and felt a little cheap. Chrysler: make that center console out of wood and you’ll have a winner.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior, Shifter, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

As with most recent Chrysler products, the front seats have a pronounced “bump” in the center of the cushions making you feel like you’re sitting “on” the seat and not “in” the seat. Rear seat passengers will have little to complain about with reclining rear seat backs, air vents and the same soft-touch leather door treatment as the front. New for 2014 are two high-current USB power ports in the center console so your kids can charge their iWidget without cigarette adapters. Since the 7-seat Mercedes ML and Dodge Durango share the same DNA as the 5-seat Grand Cherokee, there is a surprising amount of rear legroom and cargo room for a 5-seat midsize SUV.


uConnect 2 is the first major update to Chrysler’s 8.4-inch touchscreen system that launched in 2011 and the first version of this system the GC has ever had. It couldn’t have arrived any sooner. If you have memories of sub-par infotainment from the Mercedes era, forget them, this is a whole new uConnect. Based on a QNX unix operating system, the system features well polished graphics, snappy screen changes and a large, bright display. For the second edition of uConnect, Chrysler smoothed out the few rough edges in the first generation of this system and added a boat-load of trendy tech features you may or may not care about.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior, uConnect 2, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

In addition to improved voice commands for USB/iDevice control, uConnect 2 offers smartphone integration allowing you to stream audio from Pandora, iHeart Radio or Slacker Radio. You can have text messages read to you and dictate replies (if your phone supports it) and search for restaurants and businesses via Yelp. In addition to all the smartphone-tied features, uConnect 2 integrates a CDMA modem on the Sprint network into the unit for over-the-air software updates and access to the new Chrysler “App Store” where you will be able to buy apps for your car. Since there’s a cell modem onboard, uConnect can be configured to act as a WiFi hot spot for your tablets and game devices as well. Keep in mind speeds are 3G, not Sprint’s WiMAX or LTE network.

Completing the information assault is SiriusXM’s assortment of satellite data services which include traffic, movie times, sports scores, fuel prices and weather reports. As with uConnect data services, there’s a fee associated after the first few months so keep that in mind. 2014 also brings uConnect Access which is Chrysler’s answer to GM’s OnStar providing 911 assistance, crash notification and vehicle health reports. Garmin’s navigation software is still available as a $500 add-on (standard on Summit) and it still looks like someone cut a hole in the screen and stuck a hand-held garmin unit in the dash. The interface is easy to use but notably less snazzy than the rest of the system’s graphics. If this bevy of techo-wizardry hasn’t convinced you Jeep is now in the 21st century, consider this: our tester didn’t have a CD player. If the bevy of USB ports has you confused, you can rock your Cat Stevens CD by paying $190 for a single-slot disc player jammed into the center armrest. Excluding the Garmin navigation system, uConnect 2 ties with BMW’s iDrive in my book for the best infotainment system. Add in the somewhat clunky nav software, and it’s still among the best.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Engine 3.6L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes


Under the hood it’s a new world for the big Jeep. The same 290HP/260lb-ft 3.6L V6 and 360HP/390lb-ft 5.7L V8 are carried over from last year but that’s where the similarities end. In addition to the two gas mills there is a new 3.0L diesel V6 made by VM Motori S.p.A of Italy. (VM Motori is half owned by Fiat and General Motors if you were wondering.) The 24-valve DOHC engine uses a cast iron block, aluminium heads and a single computer-controlled variable geometry turbo to crank out 240 ponies and 420lb-ft. (There’s also the 470HP SRT version, but that’s for a different review.) The V6 is the base engine on all models (SRT excepted of course) and it is the only engine offered in the Laredo and Laredo E for 2014. Limited, Overland and Summit buyers can drop $2,695 for the V8 and $4,500 for the “EcoDiesel” V6.

All four engines (yes, even the SRT) are mated to a ZF-designed 8-speed automatic. V6 models use the low torque variety made by Chrysler while V8 and diesel models use a heavy-duty 8HP70 made in a ZF factory. If you’re up to date on Euro inbreeding, you know this is the same transmission used by BMW, Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover and Rolls Royce. To say this is a step up from the vilified Mercedes 5-speed or the Chrysler 6 speed (the 65RFE featured some of the strangest ratio spacing ever) is putting it mildly. Fuel economy jumps 9% in the V6, 10% in the V8 and the diesel model claims 30MPG on the highway. No small feat in a 4,500-5,400lb SUV. Thanks to the heavy-duty cog-swapper, towing jumps from 5,000 to 6,700lbs for the V6 and the V8 and diesel hold steady at 7,400 lbs in RWD form and 7,200 lbs for the AWD model.

Our Summit had the optional Quadra-Trac II AWD system which uses a 2-speed transfer case to split power 50:50 for normal driving, features electronic locking, and provides an improved 44:1 low range for off-road use (up from 30:1 in 2013). Jeep’s variable height air-suspension dubbed “Quadra-Lift” is option on Limited and standard on Overland/Summit allowing you to air-lift your way from a parked 6.7 inches to 11.3 (0.6 more than last year.) Of course those numbers are only valid if you: A. remove the air dam properly before you go off-road, or B. slam into a rock and rip the air dam off while off-road.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes


If you think a transmission doesn’t make much difference, drive the 2013 and 2014 Jeeps back-t0-back. Not only is the 2014 V6 model 2/10ths faster to 60 than last year’s V8, the on-road feel has been substantially approved. The old model felt like it was never able to find the right gear for anything, while the 8-speed seems psychic in comparison with the right gear ready and engaged before you knew you needed it. That’s a good thing, because a 5,000+ pound SUV with 260lb-ft and an 8-speed with a tall overdrive gear are a recipe for frequent shifts. Indeed on Highway 101, the transmission would routinely downshift to 7th to go up freeway overpasses. Quick shifts and a wide gear-ratio spread pay dividends when towing. I hooked up a 5,000lb trailer and the V6 Summit had no problems hauling it up and over a 2,200ft mountain pass.

In a sea of sharp-handling FWD crossovers, the GC is practically the only mid-size 5-seat SUV left that still drives like a truck. The soft suspension, over-boosted steering and tall ride have a positive effect on highway ride quality, but take a toll on handling. Despite wearing wide 265-width tires, the GC will only carve corners in the off-road-incapable SRT model. Still, that’s not this Jeep’s mission. Much like a Range Rover, the Summit’s raison d’être is to drive like a Barcalounger regardless of the road surface. Mission accomplished. Sort of.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Weight is something you can more easily ignore on-road than off-road. Why? Because the traction surface is predictable and grades are never going to approach the GC’s advertised approach/departure angles. Off road, I got the Summit stuck twice on a moderate trail I am very familiar with (my neighbor has a private 380 acre off-road park that is his “backyard”). The lighter Jeep Patriot had no troubles on the same course. Yes, tire choices have a huge impact, but keep in mind the Patriot had road rubber as well. The first problem was a log about 9″ in diameter. The GC climbed over it but couldn’t reverse off of it. The suspension clearance wasn’t an issue, it was weight and traction. Again, better rubber would have helped, but so would a lighter curb weight because the Patriot didn’t have the same issue on the same log. The second location the GC got stuck for a while was on a steep and “gravely” slope. Again, the lighter SUVs on the same trail had no issue. Yes, QuadraDrive II excels in situations where you have one or more wheels in the air, giving you a very smooth transition of power that can’t be matched by slip-and-grip systems. But seriously, how often do $57,000 SUVs encounter that on the school run?

I must now comment on QuadraLift. Yes, you can increase the suspension height to 11.3 inches, but most people I encountered had no idea what this does to the geometry. Allow me to explain. This GC has four-wheel independent suspension. That means each wheel’s suspension hinges at a point near(ish) the center line of the vehicle. At “normal” ride height, the suspension is in the middle of it’s travel. Lower it for parking mode and the wheels move “upwards” toward their bump-stops. Raise the ride height and the wheels move “downwards” in the wheel wells pushing the car up. When you’re in Off Road II mode at 11.3 inches, you’ve pushed the wheels as far down as they can go nearly hitting their lower maximum travel. This leads to some very peculiar off-road manners, some loud bangs as the suspension hits its lower stops in off-camber situations and a rough ride. Compare that to something like an FJ cruiser which has more suspension travel at similar ride heights and the FJ is going to be the more comfortable off-road companion. How much of a problem is this? Not much, most Grand Cherokee buyers think of their gravel driveway as “off-road.”

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The Grand Cherokee is deeply conflicted SUV if we look at it through the lens of modern crossover comparisons which have eschewed every reason the SUV was invented except for ride height. If however you’re a shopper that expects a 5-seat SUV to be able to tackle more than a gravel road or the occasional speed bump, tow 7,000lbs and accommodate a winch, you don’t have many options. In truth, the Grand Cherokee is one of the best handling “traditional SUVs” ever made, it’s just that the competition has moved toward on-road performance. Sound like a Range Rover to you? It should and Jeep knows it.

Although the Summit has become a tad pricier this year, it’s still $13,000 less than a Range Rover Sport.  Brand image is important, but the Jeep-Range Rover delta is strangely not as wide as the Dodge-Jaguar delta, especially for folks like my mom in the middle of the country. What about me on the left coast? I own a 2001 GMC Envoy (gasp) that has 140,000 miles on it. I’m that 1% that actually tows with their SUV. Frequently. A pickup truck doesn’t fit my lifestyle and I find my 14-foot box trailer more useful for farm/ranch/construction duty (I built my own home and everything arrived on-site in the trailer). When my GMT360 SUV grenades its fourth transmission, I’ll need a replacement. My options: The VW Touareg or the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The options may be narrow, but they have never looked better.


Hit it or Quit It?

Hit it

  • Best interior Chrysler has ever made. And they didn’t even use Corinthian Leather.
  • The V6 and 8-speed will make you forget the thirsty V8 exists.
  • Oil burners rejoice!
  • High tow ratings are incredibly rare today.

Quit it

  • Curb weight is a real problem for this Jeep both on and off road.
  • The V8 is still thirsty.
  • Some interior plastics are still too cheap for $57,000.


Chrysler provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.57 Seconds

0-60: 7.09 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.33 Seconds @ 77.5 MPH

Average Observed Fuel Economy: 19.8 MPG over 768 miles


2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Engine 3.6L V6 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Engine 3.6L V6-001 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Engine 3.6L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior-001 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior-003 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior-004 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior-005 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior-006 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior-007 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior-009 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior-010 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior-011 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior-012 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior-014 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior-017 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-001 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-002 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-003 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-004 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-005 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-006 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior, Shifter, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-008 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-009 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-010 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-012 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-013 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-014 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-015 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-016 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior, uConnect 2, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-018 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-019 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Interior-020 ]]> 83
Capsule Review: 2013 Range Rover Supercharged Wed, 22 May 2013 13:00:32 +0000 photo (43)

How long has it been since the Range Rover was “the best 4x4xfar”? Since the original 2-door Spen King special went out of production? Since Toyota replaced Land Rover vehicles (including the Defender, Range Rover and the like) as the vehicle of choice for African off-roaders and UN peacekeepers? Since the Range Rover was catapulted from Anglophile obscurity to the must have vehicular fashion accessory of the wannabe Kardashian set?

Though my last Land Rover press car, a 2012 Range Rover Sport, displayed three error codes related to the air suspension, I’ve yet to get the full Doug DeMuro experience of actually owning a Range Rover – partly because I don’t have three other vehicles to rely on when something goes wrong, and partly because every time I return these cars, I come to the same conclusion; driving a Range Rover idea is a much better idea in your mind than in reality.

Without fail, the Range Rover is the one vehicle that attracts the most attention from my friends and peers. Requests for rides are legion, attention from the opposite sex is far more abundant than when I am driving something sporty, and with this new-for-2013 version, plenty of people wanted to know what I thought of it, especially owners of the previous generation model.

Unanimous among them was a reaction of incredulity when I told them I didn’t really like it. It was as if I had announced my belief in the sanctity of the unborn life to a meeting of Andrea Dworkin admirers. I suspect it has more to do with what the Range Rover represents to them than how good the car actually is.

You see, you can buy plenty of very good large SUVs and crossovers right now. If you like German cars, there’s the Mercedes-Benz ML, the BMW X5, the Porsche Cayenne and the Volkswagen Touraeg. Japanese car fans can opt for anything from the Infiniti JX to the Lexus LX570, which, ironically, is based on the Toyota Land Crusier, the car that did everything a Land Rover or Range Rover could do, without spontaneously breaking down while one is being pursued by the janjaweed in Darkest Sudan.

If you’re like me and you want a nice SUV with lots of power, solid build quality and enough discretion to keep your car from getting vandalized while you shop at the ethnic supermarket, you can go and buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee  Summit. Unlike the Range Rover, you can pick a diesel option, and you can even buy one for your spouse as well before you equal the Range Rover’s $100,000 price tag.

Of course, quality, engineering and alternative powertrains matter not to the people who park Range Rovers in front of their McMansions. That famed cost of entry doesn’t get you any of that. It gets you a pogo-stick ride, an infotainment system from the last decade and interior materials that are “good from far, but far from good”. The expanse of black plastic that seems to take up most of the center console is a particular offense to both aesthetics and value. Were this a Honda CR-V, the reviewers would be crucifying it right now. The one appreciable difference that a Range Rover has over every other SUV (save for the abominable Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen) is that it is more expensive than the competition. Owning one, therefore, telegraphs to the world that you have the means to afford one.

On the upside, it is really, really fast. The 510 horsepower V8 engine moves this thing like a two-box Shelby Mustang, and the 8-speed automatic only helps matters. The lightweight aluminum frame shared with its Jaguar corporate cousins plays a part as well. In fact, I wouldn’t mind trying out the 3.0L V6 version, which is nearly $20,000 cheaper. Based on my impressions of that motor in the Jaguar XJ (coming soon), it should be perfectly adequate for this package.

But again, I am struck with the undeniable fact that Range Rover has ceased to become a product and is now just a brand. The name is slapped on pimped-out LR4s and gussied-up Ford Mondeos that even come in a 3-door configuration. Charles Spencer King might at least have approved of  that, were he able to call the shots.

Or maybe not.

A few years before he died, Spen King publiclly lashed out at SUV drivers, telling a Scottish newspaper

 “The 4×4 was never intended as a status symbol, but later incarnations of my design seem to be intended for that purpose.  I find the people who use it as such deeply unattractive.  Sadly, the 4×4 has become an alternative to a Mercedes or BMW for the pompous, self-important driver. To use the 4×4 for the school run, or even in cities or towns at all, is completely stupid.”

Spen King’s criticism fell on deaf ears. His creation has become one of the best symbols of ostentation and vulgarity on four wheels. As a statement of frivolous wealth, the Range Rover has few genuine rivals. But as an SUV it is outclassed by all of the aforementioned vehicles – by far.

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Generation Why: “We Are Not Scion” Tue, 07 May 2013 17:43:44 +0000


As Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi rush to prepare new entry-level product to attract a younger crowd, Jaguar Land Rover is proudly calling “bollocks” on their efforts to attract younger buyers. Although much of the growth in the “near-luxury” segment is expected to come from vehicles with a transaction price in the $30,000-$40,000 range, JLR’s sole offering in that segment is the low-volume LR2. It’s the $50,000 Evoque that’s driving sales for the brand.  This interview from Automotive News with JLR’s North American CEO, Andy Goss, explains why:

Most of your competitors are working on vehicles for Gen Y buyers. Do you need to move in that direction?

You should not pigeonhole yourself so much. We conquest customers but we are selling cars that are $40,000 to $80,000. They are bought by people in their 30s and early 40s. Even the average Evoque buyer is 43 years old. The average [Evoque] transaction price is nearly $50,000. We are not Scion.

In my last Generation Why article, there were a lot of good arguments brought to the surface in support of cars like the Mercedes-Benz CLA. For one thing, Mercedes has a very old customer base, especially in Europe. They tend to be buying their last car rather than their first car. Clearly, this is not a sustainable growth path, and will lead to a Buick-like customer base. In that light, bringing in new buyers with a more affordable, more efficient compact vehicle seems like a good call.

In his column this week on the “Scion” remark made by Goss, Peter DeLorenzo strikes a chord that we’ve been playing for a while here at TTAC:

Young people aren’t stupid. They’re brand savvy too – much more so than any brand studies are actually quantifying…

I’ve said that before, perhaps more often than some of our readers have wanted to hear. Among Generation Why buyers, Mercedes and BMW are already sufferng from an image problem. While the parents of today’s college-age consumers still associate Mercedes-Benz and BMW with stratospheric price tags and unique dynamic qualities, the next generation seems them as cars that can be leased by any $30k millionaire becauses they’re too proud to drive a Honda Accord. When you grow up inundated with rap videos and paparazzi photographs showing your celebrity idols driving only the priciest variants of the model lineup, suddenly a four-cylinder small sedan isn’t good enough, even if it has the “right” badge. If you drive a BMW 320i, girls won’t think you’re rich; they’ll think you’re a try-hard.

With Land Rover, on the other hand, JLR has an image that has been so far untainted by associations with low-price leasing or four-cylinder loss-leaders. The Evoque, despite being little more than an Ecoboost Ford in a fancy wrapping, is on fire, with the Halewood plant literally pumping them out around the clock. The new Range Rover is also moving like crazy, simply by virture of it being a new Range Rover. I am positive that the reason people will continue to pay 30 percent more for this car over an X5 or Q7 is because unlike Mercedes, BMW and Audi, Land Rover is not chasing every niche and trying to make their cars accessible to credit criminals and $30k millionaires. Even a car like the Evoque has an older buyer and a much higher transaction price than other entry-level luxury cars. If the Germans are like Ralph Lauren in the T.J. Maxx discount bin, chasing volume and filling every possible niche, then Land Rover is like Richard James: unwilling to make any more product, and sell it any cheaper, than they please.

It’s not all good news for the Tata-held luxury conglomerate, however. Unlike Land Rover, Jaguar has not had the same resurgence. The F-Type should give the brand a solid halo car, and the new XJ is certainly striking enough, but like Audi, Jaguar will probably be an overnight success 20 years in the making. Jaguar is still associated in the public mind with consistent quality problems and misshapen failures of product planning like the X-Type and S-Type. Nor has the public reacted to the new look of Jaguar’s XF and XJ with the approbation it’s given the new look of the Evoque.

With the Range Rover brand, JLR was able to introduce a new, lower-priced model and reap immediate rewards, but that same avenue cannot and will not work for Jaguar; how could you do anything cheaper or less desirable than the old X-Type? Rather, Jaguar will have to build prestige with a long string of desirable, expensive vehicle before they can chase any additional volume. If it’s any consolation, Jaguar’s been in deeper trouble than this in the past and has recovered. There’s something about the Jaguar brand that just won’t quit — and it’s something you can’t get from a Mercedes CLA.

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Junkyard Find: 1995 Range Rover Fri, 22 Mar 2013 13:00:10 +0000 Here in Colorado, retired members of the Land Rover family are lined up in large numbers in every self-service wrecking yard. Range Rovers and Discoveries were (and are) extremely popular here, most likely as a form of rebellion against the Subaru Outback-driving hordes whose maintenance expenses (even with all the blown head gaskets and nuked center diffs) come to a boring 0.004% of the total per-vehicle annual cost of Range Rover ownership. I’ve been ignoring these trucks when I see them in junkyards, but today we’re going to look at a typical example, chosen at random.
The most interesting thing about these trucks, from a junkyard-scavenger perspective, is the fact that most of them have the 4.2 liter Rover V8 engine, which means that a homemade MGB-GT V8, or even— shudder— a TR7-to-TR8 conversion— is an easy, low-budget proposition. You’ll want to ditch the Lucas fuel-injection system, of course, but that sort of goes without saying.
These things are very comfortable for those willing to keep them running; this one made it to a pretty respectable 164,774 miles during its 18 years of service.
Of course, there are some Land Rovers around here that are safe from the cold steel jaws of The Crusher!

02 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1995 Range Rover Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 87
Range Rover Sport Residuals Torpedoed By New Model Debut Thu, 14 Mar 2013 16:04:28 +0000

The Range Rover Sport is set to get a total redesign later this year, but pictures of the new car have leaked prior to its New York Auto Show debut. Just as we expected, it looks like a full-size Range Rover got shrunk in the wash.

Expect residual values of the current model to take a serious dive once the new car goes on sale. God forbid anybody should be seen driving the previous generation. An easy giveaway will be the sagging air suspensions, which the new owners will not be able to afford to fix, due to the exorbitant shop rates charged by JLR dealers.

new-range-rover-sport Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Range Rover Sport. Photo courtesy new-range-rover-sport-2 ]]> 66
Jeep Cherokee Won’t Be The Only 9-Speed Soft Roader Thu, 28 Feb 2013 15:49:43 +0000

ZF’s 9-speed transmission seems to be gaining popularity with storied off-road name plates that are now marketing unibody vehicles better meant for the urban jungle. The Range Rover Evoque is the next recipient of the ZF 9-speed, which should help squeeze some more efficiency out of the Evoque’s boosted four-cylinder engine.

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Land Rover and JD Power Tue, 26 Feb 2013 19:00:19 +0000

Some things never change. Lying politicians, for example. And racist YouTube commenters. But also the JD Power Long-Term Vehicle Dependability Study, which was just released for 2013. Like always, Lexus and Lincoln were near the top, proving that old people can’t figure out in-car computer systems well enough to give them low ratings. Porsche was also near the top, proving that at least one German brand still has some idea what it’s doing.

Of course, you already knew who topped the JD Power study because it was covered by every other website, including your local news affiliates, which have those annoying banner ads that expand as the page opens. Note to advertisers: no one in human history has ever willingly clicked on one of those ads, or will ever click on one of those ads, or will ever buy a product just because their screen was briefly invaded by one of those ads. Unless, perhaps, the ad is touting Lincoln’s placement in the latest JD Power survey, and the reader is an old person.

What your local news probably didn’t cover, however, is another aspect of the JD Power survey that never changes: Land Rover’s position. You see, for the umpteenth year running, Land Rover displayed its unending commitment to quality by finishing dead last. And since we’re doing our part to tell the truth about cars, I felt it was my duty to cover this automotive milestone.

The Study


Before we go any further, it’s important to understand how the study works. There are two ways you can do this: one, you can read JD Power’s explanation, as I did, which is “summarized” in a 1,500-word press release that includes an embedded video and uses the word “vehicle” 38 times. In fact, the word “vehicle” appears as often as the word “of.” Truly.

Your second choice is to just read my explanation.

Are you with me? I thought so.

JD Power has two commonly reported vehicle studies, both of which Land Rover traditionally wins, provided you hold them upside down. One is the Initial Quality Study, which measures problems in the first three months of ownership. The one being discussed here is the Long-Term Vehicle Dependability Study, which measure problems in the first three years of ownership. That means this study is looking at 2010 models, which explains the Ford Ranger’s appearance.

To collect reliability data, JD Power surveys thousands of vehicle owners. Once it has the numbers, JD Power tallies things up based on the number of problems, on average, faced by 100 vehicles over three years. This is pretty self-explanatory, or – if you’re JD Power – it requires a nine-minute video explanation from a guy whose hair is parted in the middle.

One last word on JD Power’s study: the definition of “problem.” According to the study’s methodology, a problem can be one of two things: either an actual issue faced by the vehicle, or something the customer just doesn’t like. Maybe you think there’s too much wind noise, for example. Problem. Or maybe you think the cruise control stalk looks phallic. Problem. We’ll get to the impact of this definition on Land Rover in a minute.

How did Land Rover do?

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: Land Rover had 220 problems per 100 vehicles. The average TTAC reader might be saying, “That’s not so bad over three years! My Crown Vic leaks water every time it rains through the holes for the light bar!” or possibly, “We’re 600 words into this and you haven’t made a joke about Land Rovers and fire yet?”

To them, I say: for perspective, Lexus had only 71 problems per 100 vehicles. And we know most of Lexus’s problems stemmed from the owner’s manual font size being too small, while most of Land Rover’s were because the towing eye is difficult to locate in the vehicle’s charred remains. Boom – there it is.

It gets worse. While most brands were separated by one or two problems per 100 vehicles, Land Rover was 30 problems behind the next-worst brand, Dodge. That means Land Rover would have to trim 30 problems per 100 vehicles – or nearly half of Lexus’s entire score – in order to become second worst.

Most importantly, this is not exactly uncharted territory for Land Rover. I went back through the last few Vehicle Dependability Studies and discovered that Land Rover typically ends up in one of three places: dead last, damn near last, or not included because the sample size wasn’t large enough. One year, they had 344 problems per 100 vehicles. Truly.

Is it really that bad?

Beyond customer satisfaction, Land Rover’s resale value is most affected by its reliability woes. No one keeps a Land Rover beyond the warranty period, meaning the market is full of three-year-old Land Rovers with ticking time bomb suspension, electricals, engines and transmissions. Between the abundance of used models and the obvious potential pitfalls, used-car shoppers stay away.

Most people think car companies don’t care about resale value, but there’s one big reason they do: leasing. Remember, leasing a car is basically paying the depreciation for the period you own it, plus a little profit for the automaker. If the car depreciates substantially, one of two things rise: either lease payments or manufacturer subvention. Both are bad news for car companies. Just ask the king of depreciation, Jaguar, whose latest XJ sedan is already in the $40k range on the used market.

But I see Land Rovers everywhere!

And that’s the rub. While you and I view the above as fodder for jokes, there are two highly important camps who don’t really care what we think. That would be Land Rover North America, and Land Rover owners themselves. Land Rover North America doesn’t care because even with the problems and the effect on lease business, they still sell every SUV they make. Except, of course, the LR2, which may exist solely to provide transportation for service customers. Land Rover owners don’t care because they just want to drive a car they think is cool; damn the issues.

The interesting thing is that, given JD Power’s methodology and Land Rover owner attitudes, you’d expect the brand to do better on JD Power’s studies. You’d think, for example, that a Land Rover owner would be willing to overlook a little wind noise here, or a vehicle fire there, just because they love the product.

But the bad survey scores say that isn’t the case. They know about the problems, yet they buy Land Rovers anyway – purely because they like them. In fact, it’s sort of like how you bought that Crown Vic with the holes in the roof.

Maybe you have more in common with the average Land Rover owner than you think.

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Base Range Rover Loses 2 Cylinders Fri, 15 Feb 2013 16:58:01 +0000

The 2013 Range Rover may be sold out, but anyone ordering the base model or the HSE may regret getting their order in. The 5.0L naturally aspirated V8 will be replaced by the more efficient and nearly-as-powerful 3.0L supercharged V6.

At 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, the V6 is down about 35 horsepower and 43 lb-ft of torque. The 0-60 run will take .6 seconds longer, but gas mileage will be up by 2 mpg in each category. Most importantly, the people buying this car will likely not notice or care. If they’re that status concious, they’ll get the full-bore Autobiography edition.

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Capsule Review – 1999 Land Rover Discovery Series II, AKA – The Great Southwest Escape. Take Two Sun, 20 Jan 2013 16:09:16 +0000

Yesterday, we witnessed Sandy being picked up by Mental Ward. Today, we follow both on the roadtrip through America. Will they make it?

Just east of Philly, it had started snowing pretty well. During the first (of many) fuel stops, I pulled the light covers. At speed, the lights off the snowflakes resembled the cockpit view of the Millennium Falcon making the jump to light speed. It was simply awesome. Snow? HA! Disco Sandy positively yawned at the attempt and sped through the Pennsylvania night.

Comfortably perched in the high leather seat, I began to grasp the concept of “command seating” outside of marketing buzzwords. Sorry, you don’t have it. In fact nothing else outside of the starship Enterprise has command seating. The window frame is just above my hipbone with miles of headroom. The dash is low and the gauges succinct but informative. The seat is as comfortable as you expect British leather to be. There is an armrest, cup holders, dual sunroofs, suspension adjustments, and my favorite; a curry hook. 4,500 pounds of steel and three locking differentials certainly ads to your swagger. Exit the vehicle and hear air pumping the suspension level. You drive a sedan, you pilot a race car, but you command a Land Rover.

Am I hearing banjos?

By this point, my friends on Facebook and message board were starting to question my sanity.  Going through a bit of  West Virginia, even my iPhone questioned my sanity and violently shook its head. I could easily answer all of the questions, texts and posts during the frequent fuel stops, instead of while driving. With a buried foot climbing the Smokey Mountains, I was averaging a dismal 11 MPG. I didn’t realize unless the climate control in “econ” the AC is always on. I remedied that and road flattened, yielding a more respectable 13 MPG. Even with a 25 gallon tank, the stops came often. Thank god for the Truckmaster Fuel Finder!

John Mellencamp did not meet me, I was disappointed

By Indiana, the Red Bulls weren’t cutting it. I found a well-lit truck stop, crawled into the back seat and grabbed a few hours’ sleep. The next morning I employed the Hurley Haywood trick of fresh under wear and socks, grabbed a coffee and setoff racing the sun to Sooner state.

Blagojevich offered me a senate seat if I gave him the Disco, I declined

For an off-road vehicle, Disco Sandy is just absurdly competent for this kind of trip. The mileage never got any better, but it swallowed tarmac with alarming ease. The cabin is quiet, the stereo good and the whole affair is not physically taxing at all. Just outside of Indianapolis, a clear blue sky greeted me for the remainder of the trip. The radio was abuzz of  a seriously troubled Jersey shore and lower Manhattan. At each fill-up I answered updates, and felt a bit guilty compared to some of my east coast friends.

Louie Louie

I made Missouri before lunch. Sandy’s sweet spot was 75, but I wanted to get home, so I pushed it. Oklahoma by midafternoon and my last food/fuel stop was the McDonalds that arches over I-44 in Vinta OK. 20 miles from home the sun was setting. I parked my new acquisition in the drive as the trick-or-treaters came in droves,  three hours before my flight would have landed.

You want fries with that?

A week later, Sandy carried the wife, our dogs and me to Colorado. The vast cargo space immediately earned the canine seal of approval.  I have pulled my big dog out of the driver’s seat twice because she thinks she is coming with us. After that trip, my wife laid claim to Sandy, selling her G35. The next trip was to Atlanta and the Carolinas for Thanksgiving. A month later, the missus and the dogs headed to Omaha for Christmas. Sandy ferried 2 pregnant sisters shopping and made food runs for the whole family.

Her new home

She’s one of us now and I love the silly girl more than I should. During our 11 year marriage, my wife has always feared any car out of warranty. The confidence Sandy inspires in her is strange. Chris joked that this Disco was built on a Wednesday under BMW’s very strict German supervision before Land Rover lost their character; “No! Unacceptahble! Beeldt it cohrrectly! Du blöde Kuh!”

The ups? Huge cargo capacity, great long range travel and it can tow. It seats seven with and each row is stadium style seating. Our two big dogs and a precocious Dachshund fit easily; along with luggage and anything else.

The downs? I better get a Valentine’s Day card from BP after all that money. Even without the safari rack there is no room for a Disco in our garage. The dash is too close and too low. On the passenger side I hit it with my knees quite constantly, and that is at just 6’0. In contrast, my 5’4 wife literally has to climb into the seat using the window frame and interior door pull to pull herself up. It is a rolling brick and the slightest crosswind knocks it around, and  in Oklahoma, yeah, you notice. This particular Disco is not without issues. The trans mission overheat sensor is bad,  the passenger O2 sensor is bad, the sunroofs don’t work, one rear lock is wonky and the brake pads were meant to tow. They need some heat before they grab, so that first stop sign in my neighborhood is always an eye opener. Finally, if I make reference to the curry hook one more time, my wife may impale me on it.

Are we going for a ride?

All of those quirks just add to her character, which she has in droves. I suspect all of the Discos have some character, they certainly have the British sensibility and feel, you know, stiff upper lip and all that.

Now I might not be doing mother earth any favors by driving such a pig, but I do consider it recycling in a sense. Besides, she started it.

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Capsule Review – 1999 Land Rover Discovery Series II, AKA – The Great Southwest Escape. Take One Sat, 19 Jan 2013 17:39:21 +0000

It’s Sandy

Murilee Martin and his merry band of adventurers have already weaved a fascinating tale of a harrowing escape from the vile Super storm Sandy after the Lemons Halloween Hooptiefest in New Hampshire. I have a much less exciting tale, but along the same ilk.

I’m on a boat!

Between deployments, I jumped at the chance to take the helm of the Three Pedal Mafia’s infamous 72 Sea Sprite. After an exceptional weekend, we had the trailer pointed south to Philadelphia. Halfway back, Southwest Air (the one with the on-board comedians) lets me know my flight to OKC has been cancelled. No problem, I was staying the night with team hotshoe Chris and gorgeous girlfriend/team/mate Chrissy. My hosts agreed to put me up an additional night. Monday was lackadaisical and included a trip to the Liberty Taproom for dinner.

Obligatory Facebook photo, taken blurry by the bartender

Over a few beers, Chris casually mentioned he was selling his 1999 Land Rover Discovery. This was his race support/tow pig since his team invited me to co-drive the mighty Wartburg in 2009.

Mad scientists all of them


He had owned the Disco(very) for years, after a long search for exactly the right Disco. Loved and meticulously maintained by the original owner, all the most common problems of these vehicles, including the nasty head gasket and front axle, had already been addressed. He was letting it go to make room for the upgraded tow pig, a Yukon 3500 Denali.

With no other words from SW, I presumed my flight was as scheduled. After a proper Philly cheesesteak lunch I was deposited 2 hours early at Philadelphia International. The Southwest counter was unlit and unoccupied. I called and was told all flights from that airport were cancelled. I was offered another delayed flight home late on Halloween the next day.  No thank you, I can rent a car and be home 2 hours before that one would land.

I called every freaking rental agency that had a kiosk.  All of them silently praised the clowns at Southwest, and openly wanted in excess of $600 for a tiny wheezing crapcan one way to Oklahoma. I then made what should have been my dumbest decision since refusing to go to the ER when a pneumatic cutoff wheel launched a chunk into my neck.

Plan B

“Hello? Chris? Yeah, you just sold a Land Rover.”

I sincerely figured at the price I was offered, I could drive the truck home, sell it and maybe makeup the gas money. My wife was less than confident;

“Just take the flight tomorrow.”

“What?!? Dangit Woman! I know how to get home. It’s a 13 year old British SUV with slightly less than 200,000 miles. What could possibly go wrong? “

By 6 PM EST I was rolling east in my new (to me) Land Rover, signed title and a freshly printed insurance card in the glove box.

I have to confess I knew almost nothing about Land Rovers , but having raced with Chris, I knew he was a stickler for maintenance and always very researched in his purchases. I have experience with British cars, so 187,000 miles scared me a bit. My teammate assured me he would never send me off across this great land of ours in a vehicle he didn’t trust.

The way home

In addition to being strict with maintenance, Chris also is particular about his modifications. My little Birmingham hottie was equipped with a 110 power inverter under the passenger seat which allowed me to keep my iPhone charged. The iPhone (the map was still by Google) informed me I had slightly less than 1,400 miles spread over 7 states to cover.

My parents had a vague inkling of where I was, so they were a tad worried. They called to check up on me. My plan induced laughter.

“You bought a car to drive home?”

“Um, no Dad, I bought a Land Rover. Cars are for peasants; this is quite simply the finest off road vehicle ever made.”

More laughter.  Apparently the over under from my family after the first flight cancellation was on me trying something like this. My Dad knew better.

Yeah, I was quickly smitten with my new purchase. I texted Chris; not only would I not be selling her, but she now had a name. In a nod to her golden color and the circumstances, she was now “Sandy.”

Sweeter than Pedro’s bike were Sandy’s official Land Rover bush grill guard and safari rack. Attached to both was a pair of Hella 700FF aux lights along with a pair of 550s mounted in the place of the original fogs. I could actually illuminate my home in Oklahoma from PA with all of these powered up.

Will Sandy destroy Mental’s marriage? Will it make good on a Land Rover’s reputation and die at the most inopportune moment? Will it duly serve Mental, even in the boring stretches between Columbus and Indianoplace? Tune in tomorrow for part two of the great Southwest Escape.

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Upcoming Range Rover Sport Rendered Fri, 14 Dec 2012 17:47:10 +0000

With the introduction of the new Range Rover already underway, next on the agenda is the smaller Range Rover Sport.

The Range Rover Sport was launched in 2005 and got a facelift in 2010. Next year, Land Rover will finally bring a vastly improved version, which is not only lighter, but better looking too. Codenamed L494, the second generation Range Rover Sport will adopt the new Range Rover’s D4u platform, which is made of aluminum, resulting in an overall weight loss to the tune of nearly 900 lbs.

Interior room will be increased thanks to a longer wheelbase, and a 7-seat version is also rumored. Both the exterior and interior will be influenced from the Range Rover Evoque. The company will offer the same range of diesel and gasoline engines, mated to an 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox. Prices are expected to go northwards with sales starting in the latter half of 2013.

Faisal Ali Khan is the editor of, a website covering the automobile industry of India.

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Avoidable Contact: Won’t someone please put Land Rover out of my misery? Tue, 27 Nov 2012 14:00:29 +0000 When he make it drip drip, kiss him on the lip, lip. Picture courtesy the author.

Halfway across the stream, there was a crunch and a GRRRRRRIND and my little Freelander came to a halt, steering wheel frozen in place by a log or a rut or the Kraken or something. Immediately I heard advice from both sides of the water. “Go forward! Harder!”

“No, wait! Backwards!”

“We’ll strap you up, hold on!”

“No time for that! You’ll stall the motor! Just DO SOMETHING!” The water in the passenger compartment was three inches high and rising. I was more than ten miles from the nearest trailhead in any direction and more than two hundred miles from home. The recovery would be long, difficult, and expensive. I chose to briefly slam the transmission into reverse and give the miniature V-6 a brief moment of full-throttle before selecting low gear and driving forward into whatever had stopped me before with twice the momentum I’d had previously. Thankfully, this time the obstacle gave way and moments later I was four-wheel-scrabbling for grip up the streambank. A narrow escape. Who’s stupid enough to take a unibody CUV hardcore off-roading? This guy.

Sadly, that’s just one of my “Rover stories”. I have dozens. Maybe more. For eight years I drove a Land Rover of some type on a daily basis, starting with a five-speed ’97 Discovery SD and ending with an ’03 Discovery 4.6 SE. I even tried out a Freelander (mentioned above) in ’02. It was a bad-ass little trucklet and could go a lot of places — see previous paragraph — but it was a little small and cramped for long trips to BMX or mountain-biking destinations. After a year, I sold it for half what I’d paid and considered myself lucky to get that much. I mean, it had rock scrapes, water damage, crooked bumpers, you name it. I used it hard. Believe it or not, the Rovers were mostly trouble-free. Emboldened by my positive experiences, My father bought a ’99 Rangie and then let me have it when he got tired of driving it around and dealing with the electrical issues. We got almost ninety thousand miles out of that one. Everything else I sold before the warranty expired. Hey, I’m not that stupid.

When my knees got too bad to cycle competitively, I traded in my last Rover on my first Phaeton and never looked back. What’s the point of having a truck that can get you to any trailhead out there if you’re not going to a trailhead anyway? Well, there was more to it than that. I’d driven the new-for-2003 Range Rover and the Discovery-replacing LR3 and hated them. The LR3 was a bland Lego-brick pig that dwarfed the hundred-inch-wagon Discovery while providing almost no additional usable space. It was massively crass both inside and out. And its sibling? My father’s Range Rover had been a civilized, luxurious vehicle; the ’03 was a whorehouse on wheels, a twisted parody of a Range Rover that never truly existed, a white-leather joke wrapped up in a body that resembled the original Rangie the way Adele resembles Audrey Hepburn. When I saw how much they wanted for the thing I was certain that every last one of them would rot on the showroom floor while the cognoscenti beat the bushes for Callaway 4.6 “P38″ Rovers and the motherlode of replacement suspension airbags it would take to drive them until the coming collapse of civilization and beyond.

Boy, was I wrong. Let’s play that game where we pick images that confirm the point we’re trying to make, shall we? Start with this:

And now…

Range Rovers being driven by welfare cases! And by “welfare cases” I mean Queen Elizabeth and the dependably offensive Prince Philip. By contrast, NBA player Stephen Jackson is a taxpayer who contributes to society and brightens the lives of millions through his talent and his commitment to his community. Where was I? Oh yeah. Regardless of Mr. Jackson’s merits as a human being, that Range Rover of his should be nuked from orbit. Both of them, because he has two identical ones. Nuke them both from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

What happened? Well, in 1992 the Land Rover global product range was like so:

  • Land Rover Defender – A nice coil-spring off-road truck. Like a Jeep Wrangler, only slightly better at doing everything but not breaking. Available in specifications from beach cruiser to military ambulance across three wheelbases.
  • Land Rover Discovery – A 100-inch-wheelbase family wagon with stellar off-road capabilities and 3/4 ton load capacity. Once I put no fewer than forty-two Compaq tower computers in my Discovery. Another time I loaded it floor to ceiling, rear gate to back of front seats, with cat litter for a local shelter. Didn’t bother the Disco in the slightest. Tough as nails.
  • Range Rover – All the capability of the Discovery with more luxury and a 108-inch wheelbase variant for rear passenger comfort.

Very easy to understand, right? The Defender is a working truck. The Discovery is a family truck. The Range Rover is an aristocratic truck. All three were body-on-frame trucks with aluminum panels. Have I repeated TRUCK enough for you? Good. They were trucks.

In the thirty-some years during which the original two generations of the Range Rover were sold, the vehicle acquired quite a bit of social credibility, as did its owners. The prestige that came from owning a Range Rover had to do with the assumption that one owned property, or participated in a lifestyle, which required the Range Rover’s capabilities. The original Range Rovers were not terribly luxurious vehicles. They were terribly capable vehicles. That was the sales pitch. Go anywhere. Do anything. Let the proles squat on the concrete slabs; we’re off to the country estate. There was no reason for that pitch to change. In fact, with the increasingly active lifestyle enjoyed by our overlords in the fabled one percent, one could argue that the market for Land Rovers of all types could only increase.

Instead, the serial custodians of the brand — BMW, Ford, and now Tata — decided to milk the brand for all the “prestige” it could provide while slowly letting the product wander into irrelevance. Let’s look at the lineup now:

  • The Defender. You can still get this in some markets. Until they drop it. Which will be any day now. And of course the Wrangler with which it competes has been completely revised three times since the Defender was released. Everything the Defender has ever had, the Wrangler has now, plus more.
  • The LR2. This replaced the Freelander, which was a Honda Civic (I’m not kidding) hacked-up to create a kind of low-cost all-weather wagon. It was cheap and capable enough in bad conditions. The LR2, by contrast, costs forty grand and can’t go everywhere the Freelander could go, because it’s bigger.
  • The LR4. Lipstick on the decade-old pig known as the LR3. The most charmless station wagon in history. Monstrously sized, hugely thirsty, too big to be useful off-road. It’s simply offensive. I wouldn’t want to be seen in one. Better to drive a Suburban. At least you can put something big in a Burb, like a drumset and two groupies.
  • The Range Rover Sport. What’s the point of this? It looks like a Range Rover. But underneath it’s an LR4. It’s cheaper than a Range Rover. But it weighs more. And it’s not supposed to go off-road. Because a Range Rover without off-road capabilities is just as useful and desirable as a Porsche truck, no doubt to the same loathsome people.

That’s all just kind of sad to people who love Land Rovers the way I used to, but I’m not willing to call for the death penalty yet, Your Honor. Let’s focus on the real villains. Start with the “Range Rover Evoque”. It’s a RAV4 for people who could afford two RAV4s but for some reason only want to have one. What possible reason in the world could one have to buy this thing, other than to try to convince one’s neighbors that one can afford a Range Rover? It looks like it’s been squashed. Whatever giant creature tried to squash it should come back and finish the job. It’s not a Range Rover. I know it, you know it, your daughter’s friends know it. You’re embarrassing yourself. Nobody is fooled by this. It’s the perfect “Range Rover” for people who wear imitation Rolexes and Photoshop their LinkedIn profile pictures to remove their moles. And I know you call it the “Range Rover” when you’re referring to it at parties. Because “front-wheel-drive mommy-wagon with a thyroid condition” just doesn’t pack the same punch. “Oh, we were driving the Range Rover the other day…” No you weren’t. Stephen Jackson was driving the Range Rover the other day. You were driving a CX-5 as reimagined by a PCP addict with two crayons, a Burger King wrapper, and access to a recent issue of “The DuPont Registry”.

What’s worse than a fake Range Rover? The All New Real Range Rover. It’s advertised on Land Rover’s own website like so:

Putting that photo up where PEOPLE CAN SEE IT is approximately as stupid as me posing topless with “Marky Mark” Wahlberg and making sure every single mother in America between the ages of 22 and 35 gets a copy of the photo in her mailbox tomorrow. I would think most people in 2012 would say, “Hey, can I get the smaller vehicle with more ground clearance and more tasteful styling? How much more does that one cost?” I have a better idea for the ad:

No, wait. Looking at that photo just makes me want to buy another Flex, which can be had with all the same stuff a Range Rover has, plus a twin-turbo engine, for $40,000 less. Maybe a Flex isn’t any good off-road, whereas the Range Rover has had all sorts of wonderful press trips in remote and exotic locations where a group of trained experts who could get a Gallardo through the Rubicon Trail talk journalists through carefully stage-managed experiences, but does it really matter any more? Who’s going to take that piggy, ribbed-for-nobody’s-pleasure Range Roaster off-road? Who’s going to put muddy boots inside it? Who’s going to put it four feet deep in a Pennsylvania creek for laughs?

The current Land Rover range has no relevance whatsoever. The brand has no relevance whatsoever. Any prestige or pride in ownership one might possibly feel from owning a Rover is surely mitigated by the Tata ownership and the never-ending parade of douchebags “flossing” them on MTV and double-parking them outside Whole Foods. The outlandish size, weight, and consumption of the entire range, pun intended, is an affront to any notion of sustainable co-existence with the wild outdoors on which the brand built its tarnished image. Inside and out, the vehicles are gross parodies of their ancestors and not worth considering for a moment by anyone with a smidgen or taste or decency. Time to close the doors, sell the remaining stock to the Chinese, and slink away quietly.

The saddest part of all this? The market for the original Rovers — the genuine article — still exists, you know. One of my dearest friends works as an attorney in a rural area, making good money and restoring a beautiful century-old home. She likes to visit her family back home in Iowa and drive the unpaved roads there. We are planning on hiking up Mount Elbert in the summer, and in order to start from the highest trailhead you need something with four-wheel-drive and nontrivial ground clearance. For that and a variety of other reasons, she decided to buy herself a new truck. She wanted a rugged, all-purpose vehicle that would allow her to go anywhere. She wanted to keep it for a long time. She wasn’t terribly concerned about what it cost, although she’s a Midwesterner at heart so she appreciates value.

The vehicle she chose does everything a Land Rover should be able to do, and more. It wasn’t cheap, but it’s worth the money. And we saw other people driving them. People of all types. She waves at them. She loves “Serenity”, her new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara six-speed manual, the way I loved my Land Rovers. During a recent weekend, we gleefully drove it up and down steep grass hills and even down a small set of stairs at an abandoned office park. “It seems like this Jeep can go anywhere!” she exclaimed.

“Sure, but let’s keep it out of deep water, okay?”

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Review: 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque (Video) Tue, 13 Nov 2012 20:31:32 +0000

Land Rover and Jeep are the original go-anywhere brands and the brands most resistant to losing sight of their hard-core mission. Unfortunately this focus can’t shelter them from the need to meet evermore stringent emissions and fuel economy standards. What’s an iconic sub-brand like Range Rover to do? Dress up a small cross over in high-fashion bling for the urban set. This presents today’s question: does the Evoque dilute the off-road brand or is it an extension into uncharted waters?

Click here to view the embedded video.


Once upon a time, SUVs roamed the land with large-displacement engines and locking axles and you only bought a Range Rover if you owned a ranch or wore a crown. Now of course a trendy SUV is a fashion statement which explains why Victoria Beckham was chosen to flog the baby Rover. Of course, this makes total sense for the brand since the majority of Range Rover shoppers in America will never take their SUV off-pavement let-alone off-road. This departure from the full-size Range Rover’s Rubicon requirements meant the boffins could sharpen the Evoque’s edges, lower the stance, raise the belt line and slam the rear roofline. The result is perhaps the most aggressive vehicle Land Rover has crafted, and quite a relief to my eye since the Freelander and LR2′s proportions never looked right to me. Further extending the Evoque’s fashion credentials, Land Rover crafted both a three and five door Evoque, although the exterior dimensions are identical. Completing the Evoque’s reputation as the trendy Roverlet are puddle lamps integrated into the side view mirrors that project an Evoque silhouette on the ground when you approach the vehicle. Think of the Evoque as the “clutch purse” to the Range Rover Sport’s diaper bag.



Normally when you work your way down the model-line food chain you get cheaper interior bits. This is almost a universal law and is part of the reason shoppers will buy a 528i instead of a 335i. It would seem that Land Rover didn’t get the memo when designing the Evoque’s interior however as even the base Pure model we tested had a gorgeous stitched/padded pleather dash. Aside from looking good and attracting caresses from passengers, the Evoque’s touch points are notable better feeling than the more expensive Range Rover Sport. The Evoque also benefits from a fairly exclusive parts bin sharing turn signal stalks with the Range Rover line, steering wheel buttons with the Jaguar XJ and the gear selector with the Jaguar XK.

Range Rovers are known for their extensive (and expensive) options lists, but the Evoque take a different tactic bundling high levels of standard equipment into three different trim levels: Pure, Prestige and Dynamic (the two-door is available only in Pure and Dynamic). The base Pure model gets a standard aluminum roof for 2013 turning the ginormous fixed glass lid into an option (standard on Dynamic and Prestige). Also new on the option list for 2013 is a self-parking option that parallel parks your Baby Rover hands-free.

Seating in the Evoque is suitably plush with front thrones that are supportive and well bolstered for sporty driving. However, the driver’s seat doesn’t have the same range of motion as much of the competition and the foot-well is a bit crowded so if your body deviates much from my 6-foot 190-lb frame you should spend some time behind the wheel before you sign papers. The Evoque’s rear cabin is extremely well-appointed with no corner-cutting plastics of harsh seams to be found. Rear space is limited however by the Evoque’s footprint limiting the rear to two passengers with short legs, possibly three in a pinch.


Nestled in the middle of a sea of supple pleather is the same 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system found in the Jaguar XJ and he 2013 Range Rover. If you’ve experienced Land Rover’s old infotainment interface, forget everything you know about it, this is thankfully a totally different system. While the menu interfaces are still not as polished as BMW’s iDrive or Audi’s MMI, they are far more intuitive and responsive than anything Land Rover has done in the past. The system sports excellent USB/iDevice integration although we noticed it was not cable of charging an iPad. In keeping with the Evoque’s premium image, the base audio system is a 380-watt, 11-speaker Meridian surround system that sounded like it belonged in a much more expensive vehicle.

Options bundling helps keep dealer inventory manageable so logically Land Rover limits the gadget menu to two: the Climate Package and the Luxury Package. The $1,000 Climate Package is the only way to get heated front seats and includes the heated thrones, steering wheel, washer jets and an electrically heated windscreen. The only downside to this package is that the heated windscreen’s embedded wires may annoy some drivers, so check that out in sunlight before you buy. The $4,000 Luxury Package (standard on Dynamic and Prestige) is a must for the gadget hound as it includes navigation, digital music storage, keyless go/entry, HID headlamps, auto high beams, a surround camera system and a 17-speaker 825-watt Meridian sound system. While I would honestly rate the system below the offerings from the other Euro brands, the Evoque does score points in my book for allowing  destination entry while in motion.


If  you’re worried about drivetrain reliability ,peeking under the Evoque’s boxy hood will either allay your fears or give you a lesson in world geography. Nestled sideways in the engine bay is a Ford-sourced 2.0L engine shared with everything from the Ford Taurus to the Volvo S80. (Before Land Rover enthusiasts turn their noses up at a Detroit engine, remember that the old Rover V8 was really a Buick 215.) Starting with an aluminum block, Ford added twin cams with independent variable valve timing, bolted on a Borg Warner (KKK) K03 turbocharger and lathered on the direct-injection sauce to deliver 240HP at 5,500RPM and 250lb-ft of twist from 1,750-4,500RPM. The small engine idles as smoothly as BMW’s 2.0L turbo, and like the German mill it has a vaguely diesel sound to it thanks to the direct injection system. Power is sent to all four wheels via an Aisin 6-speed transmission (Aisin is Toyota/Lexus’s in-house transmission company) and a standard Haldex AWD system from Sweden. The international combination is enough to scoot the Evoque from 0-60 in 7 seconds, about the same time as a Range Rover Sport HSE. My only disappointment is that while Tata had their hands in the Ford/Volvo parts bin they didn’t swipe Volvo’s smooth 325HP inline-6 engine for the Evoque Dynamic model.


No Range Rover would be complete without a bevy of off-road features. Of course, the Evoque is the on-road off-roader so there’s no height-adjustable air suspension, the differentials don’t lock and there’s no low-speed transfer case. Instead, buyers get a simplified terrain management system with push buttons instead of a knob that tell the traction and stability control system what to expect. Our Facebook readers asked us how the Evoque “handles wet leaves,” the answer is: as well as any other crossover. Since this is essentially the same AWD system that is in the LR2 and the Volvo XC60, the Evoque is similarly capable with the going gets wet/muddy/sandy. I wouldn’t want to try my hand rock-crawling with the Evoque, but it’s not claiming to be rock-capable anyway. Sure the Evoque does offer short overhangs, 8.4-inches of clearance and nearly 20-inches of water fording capacity, but the Volvo XC60 offers more.

In reality the Evoque is designed to traverse the urban jungle and it shows with moderately stiff springs, low profile rubber and impeccable road manners. Of course there’s no denying that Evoque is a front-heavy vehicle and it won’t ever feel as nimble as a BMW X1, but it is surprisingly well-behaved when it meets a corner. The AWD system is tuned to lock the center coupling as often as possible resulting in predictable corner carving wet or dry. The Dynamic trim’s optional lower profile rubber and MagneRide active damping suspension further refine the Evoque’s corner carving skills but they do take a toll on refinement delivering a ride that borders on harsh.

When the road straightens, the reality of a 240HP engine motivating 4,000lbs comes to light. While the Evoque’s 7 second 0-60 time isn’t sloe, the 2.0L turbo equipped X1 dispatched 60 in 6.2 seconds with the 3.0L turbo X1 entering sports sedan territory. The BMW X1 is also more efficient than the Evoque dishing out 22MPG City and 33MPg Highway thanks to the 8-speed transmission and a lighter curb weight.

There aren’t too many luxury crossovers that I would willingly flog on the winding mountain back-roads in Northern California, but the Evoque is a member of this select club that includes the BMW X1 xDrive35i and the Volvo XC60 R-Design with Polestar (I still can’t believe how long these names are). There is just one problem, the Evoque’s brakes aren’t up for the kind of abuse the chassis and engine can dole out, fading noticeably during a session that wouldn’t have made the Volvo or the BMW break a sweat. Even so, the Evoque is fun to drive hard and looks good in the process.

Being stylish isn’t cheap. Just ask the folks at Prada. The cost of the Evoque’s style is an MSRP range from $41,995 to $60,095, a stating price nearly $10,000 higher than the faster and more efficient X1. Even adjusting for feature content the difference is still nearly $8,000. This kind of pricing premium is nothing new to the brand, just price a Range Rover out if you don’t believe me. In a way, this pricing premium (and the resulting exclusivity of the mode) and a dedication to world-class interiors are what make the Evoque as much a Range Rover as the go-anywhere Range Rover. Let me answer the “is it worth it?” question with a question: what kind of shopper are you? Do you shop Prada or Wal-Mart?

Land Rover provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 2.6 Seconds

0-60: 7.0 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.4 Seconds @ 90MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 24.5 MPG over 811 miles


2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Rear 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Exterior, Grille, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Engine, 2.0L Direct Injection Turbo, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Engine, 2.0L Direct Injection Turbo, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, Cargo Area, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, silhouette Puddle Lamps, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, silhouette Puddle Lamps, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, Shifter, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, Driver's Side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, Dashboard,Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, Dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, HVAC, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, HVAC controls, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 63
Land Rover To Revive The Defender As Entry-Level Offering Tue, 16 Oct 2012 15:22:08 +0000

The Land Rover Defender commands fairly hefty prices on the used market, thanks to its brief tenure in our marketplace and its classic styling. But the revived Defender, set to debut in 2015, will not only come to America, but serve as the brand’s entry-level model.

Automotive News reports that

“The Defender would be priced below the Range Rover Evoque Pure, a new model for 2013 that is priced at $41,995, including shipping. It is one of several new products Land Rover and Jaguar, which are both owned by India’s Tata Motors, are developing as part of a global growth strategy.”

The next Defender is supposed to be previewed by the DC100 concept, which is supposed to echo the original vision of the Defender; a utilitarian, go-anywhere off-roader. It’s fair to say that today’s Land Rovers are a far cry from the brand’s original offerings, and it would be a refreshing change to get something in the spirit of the original. Especially after the (admittedly solid) Evoque, which is about as lifestyle as it gets.

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Review: 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit Sat, 29 Sep 2012 13:00:38 +0000

So, you really want a Range Rover but your trust fund hasn’t recovered from the “bankocalypse?” What’s a guy to do? Well, you could take advantage of the British brand’s cliff-face depreciation curve and buy an off-lease Rover, but do you really want to test your reliability-fate with used wares from Old Blighty? The answer comes from the only other brand that has “off-road” coded into its near-luxury DNA: Jeep. Gasp! A Chrysler product you say? While Chrysler would not say the phrase “American Range Rover,” they did throw us the keys to the top-of-the-line Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit 4×4 so see what a refresh and stitched leather goodness could do for our soul.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The Grand Cherokee started life in 1993 as a mid-sized SUV attempting to slot between the full-size Grand Wagoneer and the smaller Cherokee. Since that time, like many cars in America, the Jeep has been getting bigger. Unlike many cars, the Grand Cherokee has been something of a social climber receiving newer trim levels with luxury features hitherto unseen in a Chrysler product. Now in its fourth generation the Grand Cherokee has grown by a foot in length, six inches in width and gained nearly a ton in curb weight. Despise the “Americansizing,” the Grand Cherokee’s exterior is well proportioned and elegant thanks to a redesign in 2011 that replaced the cartoonish front with a more attractive and elegant design. Further upping the luxury ante, Jeep bedazzled the Overland edition with chrome, even slathering the tow hooks in bling.


I have come to the decision that adding stitched leather to anything is a recipe for success. If you don’t believe me, hop in a Laredo trim Grand Cherokee then step inside an Overland. Even though Jeep improved the plastics in the 2011 refresh, the plebeian models receive a rubbery dashboard that collects dust and is difficult to clean. Meanwhile the Overland gets one of the best stitched dashboards I have had the pleasure to fondle see. Seriously, the quality of the stitch-work is second to none in the luxury industry and the contrasting piping on the seats screams Range Rover. This is a good thing. The Range Rover parallel continues with an interior color palate that runs from black-on-black to a series of contrasting leather combinations culminating in the striking “new saddle”  leather interior our model wore. Jeep has tossed plenty of real wood in for good measure and topped everything off with tasteful matte and shiny chrome trim. As you would expect from the “budget” Range Rover, all the creature comforts you could ask for are available including: radar cruise control with pre-collision warning to a heated steering wheel, cooled seats, automatic high beams and keyless go.

A common complaint with the first two generations of the Grand Cherokee was rear seat legroom. While the Grand Cherokee will never be mistaken for a limousine, rear leg room has improved and is no longer a problem point for most passengers. This increase in leg room came with a general increase in the Grand Cherokee’s dimensions. While this increase makes the SUV a bit less capable off-road in some ways, it pays dividends in passenger  comfort, cargo room, and, my personal favorite: lumber capacity. If you own a WJ series Grand Cherokee you’ve probably noticed that it’s hard to get 8-foot long items in the vehicle, this is not a problem with the WK’s increased dimensions. While the Jeep still can’t swallow a 4×8 sheet of plywood, four-foot wide items will fit in the cargo area easily. As before, the rear tailgate features a glass section that opens independently allowing longer items to hang out the rear, this is a feature that is notably absent in the competition.


The positive impression of the Overland’s interior is tarnished once you get settled and reach for the infotainment system. Because Chrysler’s finances were in the toilet when the Grand Cherokee was refreshed in 2011, the infotainment systems from the previous generation remain with essentially no change. All but the base model of the Grand Cherokee get the same 6.5-inch touch-screen interface with the more expensive trims getting more software options in the system. At the top of the food chain, Overland models get “everything” which includes: Bluetooth, iDevice/USB integration, Sirius Satellite Radio and a backup cam. While the feature set is competitive, the system’s graphics are old school, the software operation is far from intuitive, voice commands are few and far between, call quality is mediocre and the system is sluggish. Expect this to change for 2014 as we’re told Jeep is jamming the snazzy new 8.4-inch uConnect system into the dash. If you’re a gadget hound, wait for the upgrade. On the bright side, the Jeep’s English competition has an infotainment system that is just as lackluster, just as ancient and just as infuriating.


As a nod to those interested in fuel economy, premium interior trappings no longer come bundled with a larger engine. As with all Grand Cherokee models, the Overland starts with the 3.6L V6 which produces 290HP at 6,400RPM and a respectable 260lb-ft of torque at 4,800RPM. Jumping up to the 5.7L V8 gets you 360HP at 5,150RPM and 390lb-ft at 4,250RPM. Attending the V8 party takes a toll on your fuel economy, dropping from 16/23 to 13/20 (City/Highway.) Compared to the Range Rover Sport’s 5.0L naturally aspirated engine, the Jeep delivers 15lb-ft more torque at the expense of 15HP and 2MPGs on the highway (13/18 MPG.)

The rumor mill tells us to expect both engines to get Chrysler’s  ZF-designed Chrysler-built 8-speed automatic for the 2014 model year. Until then, the V6 is paired with a Mercedes 5-speed while the V8 gets Chrysler’s in-house designed 65RFE 6-speed transmission. Our Overland also had the optional Quadra-Trac II AWD system which uses a 2-speed transfer case to split power 50:50 during normal driving situations and provides a 2.72:1 low range for off road use. Four-wheel-drive Overlands also get Jeep’s variable height air-suspension dubbed “Quadra-Lift.” Jeep claims the system is one of the fastest acting in the industry and compared to the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport I’m inclined to agree. Going from the low ride height of 6.6 inches to the 10.7 inch “rock climbing” height takes around 30 seconds while lowering the Jeep takes a similar amount of time.


Out on the road the Jeep’s hard-core roots are obvious. In a sea of sharp-handling FWD crossovers, the Grand Cherokee sticks out as a marshmallowy soft traditional SUV with standard RWD, a longitudinal mount engine, and a stout 7,200lb towing capacity. This means that despite wide 265-width rubber, the Grand Cherokee will only carve corners in the off-road-incapable SRT8 variety. Still, that’s not this Jeep’s mission. Much like a Range Rover, the Overland’s raison d’être is to drive like a Barcalounger regardless of the road surface. Mission accomplished.

With 360HP and nearly 400lb-ft of twist on hand, you would think the Overland 4X4 V8 would be fast. You would be wrong, our Overland took 7.3 seconds to hit 60 putting it firmly in the “average” category. The first impediment to forward progress is the mass of the Overland which rings in at 5,264lbs (V8 4X4) without a driver. The second is the Chrysler 65RFE transmission under the hood. Compared to GM, Ford and ZF’s 6-speed units, the shifts are slow and soft, first gear isn’t as low as the Mercedes 5-speed the V6 uses and the ratios are somewhat oddly spaced for normal driving. While I expect the new 8-speed unit to deliver better acceleration for the V8 with its low 4.69:1 first gear, don’t expect 2014 to improve HEMI fiel economy by much as the 65RFE’s 6th gear is already a tall .67:1, the same as the Chrysler/ZF 8-speed’s final gear. While we were unable to 0-60 test a V6 Overland, the V6 doesn’t feel that much slower than the V8 and it saves 351lbs of curb weight. The transmission’s ratios and shifting are likely the reason the Range Rover Sport (which manages to be even heavier) is 4/10ths faster to 60 despite the similar power numbers from the engines.

The high curb weight of the Overland causes a few problems off-road for the big-boy Jeep limiting the amount of fun you can have at the off road park. If you see that Grand Cherokee Laredo in front of you barely making it through the mud, just turn around, he’s 632lbs lighter than you. If you see a Patriot playing in the soft-stuff, it’s 2,000lbs lighter. Still, this isn’t likely to be a huge problem for you as I have yet to see a new Grand Cherokee let alone an Overland at my local SVRA. That being said, like the Range Rover, the Grand Cherokee provides all the off-road hardware you’d need to tackle the Rubicon. On our short course at Hollister Hills the Jeep proved that it still has a serious off-road setup that never flinched regardless of which wheel we had up in the air. There is a great deal of debate about whether Jeep’s move to a four-wheel independent suspension in the Grand Cherokee was the right move or not and I must throw my $0.02 in the ring. It doesn’t matter but Jeep made the right business decision. I appreciate both sides of the argument but since most Grand Cherokee buyers think of their gravel driveway as “off-road,” Jeep’s focus on asphalt manners is the way to go.

Branding is important to many shoppers, but just how important is that Range Rover brand to you? If the answer isn’t $16,195, then the $51,500 (as tested) Overland Summit is your “frugal” alternative. Not only does the Overland deliver an honest-to-goodness similar experience for considerably less, it is a viable option for those that simply prefer buying an American brand, or those living in Middle America where you can’t find a Range Rover dealer. Like the Range Rover, the Grand Cherokee Overland is all kinds of crazy, it’s big, brash and heavy but coddles the driver in a leather cocoon. Like the Range Rover, nobody “needs” an Overland, yet I secretly want one.


Jeep provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.9 Seconds

60: 7.22 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.64 Seconds at 87 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 15.2 MPG over 819 miles


2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-001 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-002 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-003 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-004 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-005 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-006 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-007 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-008 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-009 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-010 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-011 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-012 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-013 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-014 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-015 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-016 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-017 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-018 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-019 IMG_0555 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit, Interior, stitched leather dash, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit, Interior, stitched leather dash, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit, Interior, instrument cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit, Interior, instrument cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 104
Range Rover Hybrid Withheld From American Nouveau Riche Mon, 10 Sep 2012 13:00:14 +0000

In a devastating blow to fans of contrived displays of ecological sensitivity and ostentatious displays of consumption, Range Rover will apparently not sell their diesel-powered Range Rover Hybrid from the American market.

Despite the seeming slam dunk Range Rover has on their hands (really now, every single celebrity in Southern California would be driving one), it’s not as cut and dried as it would seem. America’s diesel emissions regulations make the diesel Range Rovers unsaleable in the United States due to the cost of homologating the powertrains. The unpopularity of diesels doesn’t help much either.

Americans will get the familiar 5.0L V8 in either naturally aspirated or supercharged versions. Automobile Magazine claims that Jaguar’s new supercharged V6 could be a fixture as well sometime down the road. Hopefully, Jaguar will find a way to bring the diesel engine and 1.7 kWh battery pack into one of their cars as well.

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Tata Looking At Land Rover Plant In Saudi Arabia Mon, 03 Sep 2012 13:00:54 +0000

Tata is looking at twinning a new aluminum smelter with a vehicle assembly plant that would build Land Rover products.

As of now, the only aluminum Land Rover is the upcoming Range Rover – but the idea of a smelter and a new assembly plant suggests that Tata will be doubling down on aluminum vehicles for Land Rover as well as Jaguar.

Reuters quotes company CEO Ratan Tata as saying

“This smelter could make the production of aluminum in Saudi Arabia very competitive. So taking a really long-term view, if we put an assembly plant there with a large press shop, given our commitment to aluminum in our products, we could have an interesting business case which we are examining today,” 

Cheap energy costs and a desire by the kingdom to expand its mining and natural resources capabilities are also thought to be factors driving the decision. And Land Rover’s popularity in the Middle East probably doesn’t hurt either.

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Current Generation Range Rovers Set For Massive Depreciation As New Model Debuts Thu, 16 Aug 2012 14:16:43 +0000

Owners of current shape Range Rovers are bracing for devestating depreciation, as the introduction of the next-generation car looms, making owners of the current vehicle look like pathetic try-hards saddled with an out-of-fashion luxury vehicle.

The new model (pictured above), which sheds 700 lbs and carries styling cues similar to the white-hot Evoque crossover, will debut at the Paris Auto Show in late September. A new 8-speed automatic and 5.0L V8 engine are expected to improve efficiency and performance, while the rampant electrical glitches and air suspension failures are likely to carry over to the new model.

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Penaloza Catches Range Rover In The Buff, With Body Paint Mon, 13 Aug 2012 16:58:12 +0000 This morning, our man in India, Faisal, showed you renderings of the fourth generation Range Rover. TTAC reader Penaloza looked up from his (free) coffee at the  Embassy Suites in Corpus Christi, TX, and there it was:

A truck that looks suspiciously like what Faisal had rendered, plus some strange camouflage paint job that makes even a large format shot look like a blown-up 60×40 JPEG.  Truck has New Jersey “Vehicle MFR.” plates.  Jaguar Land Rover is in scenic Mahwah, NJ 07430, and Penaloza gets the TTAC Erlkönig-Jäger grand prize.

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MINI’s Latest Foray Into Pointless Variations Tue, 31 Jul 2012 16:10:11 +0000

Evo magazine has got their hands on the latest variant from MINI – the three-door Paceman. Yes, it’s a Countryman SUV with three doors.

Why does this exist? The short answer; because there’s a three-door Range Rover Evoque. The long answer is of course, economies of scale, volume and all that fun stuff.

The thing is, there is a precedent for a three-door Evoque. Before the double-R became transportation of choice for the Hollywood C-List reality TV star set, there was a three-door Range available on the other side of the Atlantic. Of course, Mini has a long history of three door cars, and the Countryman did exist once upon a time in the pre-BMW era. But the Paceman is just a shameless ploy at adding more volume and yet another variant to the MINI range. The sloping roof is pretty much stolen directly from the Evoque, too. Can you say, derivative?

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