Capsule Review: 2013 Range Rover Supercharged

capsule review 2013 range rover supercharged

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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  • PiperCUB PiperCUB on Aug 04, 2013

    New and newer Range Rover Range Rovers are first class junk routinely in repair shops. They EAT radiators, transmissions and air-suspensions. The V8's get 10-12 mpg. If you have a slightly older embassy classic Range Rover V8 model you're A-Ok. The newer Super Charged/ Sport Range Rovers are $100K Hanes tee-shirts with Gucci logos. The new Range Rover Evoque is a 2.0 litre 230 hp turbo 4 banger. Good luck ascending paved inclines with your spouse, children, a load of groceries and miscellaneous cargo. You can pick up a certified-used L-Series Land Rover-Land Rover under 15K miles between $25K to $45K depending upon engine/transmission terrain options and entry-luxury/ full-luxury combinations. When the British Royal family gives Range Rover the boot for the nimble Land Rover L-Series what can you say? Lexus and BMW SUV utility vehicles are NO different. They sport absolutely incredible and stunningly BEAUTIFUL interiors. Lexus's strong long-running sedan line-ups have some of the best engines I've seen - 300K miles plus. When you need the functionality of the Xover/SUV, stick with Cherokees/ Jeeps/ Overlanders, Toyota Land Cruisers and Land Rover Land Rovers. With virtually identical equipment options, affordability factors, practical and low yearly maintenance costs, they will run for ever like good old fashioned Mercedes Benz. And you won't shell out $5,000.00 plus dollars to replace bumpers, bibs, aprons and so forth, or that little 2-inch plastic 0.5 centimeter-thick gasket between the engine and the transmission on Lexus/BMW SUV/Xovers. I have rid my family of 3 new Range Rovers. The first Range Rover made it home from routine shop visits. I returned it for a factory replacement. The second Range Rover same story. The third new Range Rover went straight from the repair bay right back on the dealer lot. With 2 newer Land Rover Land Rovers right now fully covered from stem to stern, one with 50k miles, 2 years old, Ford 3.7 litre V6, every terrain-condition combination possible at the flick of three simple independent transmission controls, AWD, 4x, traction, skid, mud, snow, rocks, sand, mud holes, up/down hill terrain control, 20 inch water clearance, navs, satellites - oil and filter change and nothing else. I'm a 'lady-driver' for even owning V6's in the first place. But nothing says, "Hey I'm LOADED with DOUGH! CASH coming out of every pocket because I'm IMPORTANT! And the only brain cell I possess is permanently out-of-order" louder than new Range Rover Range Rover owners. Same thing with Lexus/BMW SUV utility vehicles. All flash blanks and black powder and no gun barrel highway boom.

    • See 3 previous
    • PiperCUB PiperCUB on Aug 04, 2013

      @Sam P It's Sunday. The BIG Guy's day this day this time every week. Take your kids to a water park or your wife or girl shopping.

  • Lchan Lchan on Oct 13, 2013

    Currently I have a MB S600 and a Porsche 911 C4 Carrera. From 2007 to 2010 I also own a third car: A RR Supercharged (Big Body Lemon) bought new. The "glam" RR spent more time in the dealership in Houston than on the road with never-ending electrical problem. One day in 2009 after picking up from dealer (with less than 20K miles driven) we drove to Big Bend National Park in west Texas and it again died at the end of the road across from Mexico (and it is on pavement) costing $4,000 to tow to a nearby dealership in San Antonio because the warranty just expired. Eventually the RR North America had to send an engineer to Houston to fix it (was simply a "short" in the electrical system) and I sold it right afterward. That RR, costing over $US 104,000 in 2007, was the most embarrassing thing I've ever have the privilege of owning and I know I was not alone.

  • DenverMike When was it ever a mystery? The Fairmont maybe, but only the 4-door "Futura" trim, that was distinctively upscale. The Citation and Volare didn't have competing trims, nor was there a base stripper Maxima at the time, if ever, crank windows, vinyl seats, 2-doors, etc. So it wasn't a "massacre", not even in spirit, just different market segments. It could be that the Maxima was intended to compete with those, but everything coming from Japan at the time had to take it up a notch, if not two.Thanks to the Japanese "voluntary" trade restriction, everything had extra options, if not hard loaded. The restriction limited how many vehicles were shipped, not what they retailed at. So Japanese automakers naturally raised the "price" (or stakes) without raising MSRP. What the dealers charged (gouged) was a different story.Realistically, the Maxima was going up against entry luxury sedans (except Cimarron lol), especially Euro/German, same as the Cressida. It definitely worked in Japanese automaker's favor, not to mention inspiring Lexus, Acura and Infiniti.
  • Ronnie Schreiber Hydrocarbon based fuels have become unreliable? More expensive at the moment but I haven't seen any lines gathering around gas stations lately, have you? I'm old enough to remember actual gasoline shortages in 1973 and 1979 (of course, since then there have been many recoverable oil deposits discovered around the world plus the introduction of fracking). Consumers Power is still supplying me with natural gas. I recently went camping and had no problem buying propane.Texas had grid problems last winter because they replaced fossil fueled power plants with wind and solar, which didn't work in the cold weather. That's the definition of unreliable.I'm an "all of the above" guy when it comes to energy: fossil fuels, hydro, wind (where it makes sense), nuclear (including funding for fusion research), and possibly solar.Environmental activists, it seems to me, have no interest in energy diversity. Based on what's happened in Sri Lanka and the push against agriculture in Europe and Canada, I think it's safe to say that some folks want most of us to live like medieval peasants to save the planet for their own private jets.
  • Car65688392 thankyou for the information
  • Car65688392 Thankyou for your valuable information
  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.