Iconic looks, prodigious power, and off-road prowess…the 2014 Range Rover Supercharged has still got it.
The Canadian dollar is sinking as the North American economy continues to struggle, and the price of fuel continues to spiral out of control with no apparent ceiling, yet consumers still have the desire to put large, luxurious sport utility vehicles in their garages.
Affluent buyers are drawn to these rolling monsters due to the fact that they can haul a tremendous amount of cargo and provide a comfortable environment for passengers. Add to this the all-weather capabilities that come with four-wheel-drive and you have the perfect rig for shuttling the family and friends to the cottage or ski hill.
The Land Rover Range Rover is one of the most sought after SUVs in this segment due to its iconic looks, prodigious power, and off-road prowess. Model year 2014 brings us the fourth generation of this iconic vehicle, and although it derives much of its styling from that of previous iterations, there has been a significant number of updates.
At first glance you will immediately recognize the 2014 model as being a Range Rover. The basic profile of the vehicle is unchanged, but styling front and rear has been brought into the 21st Century with the addition of modern lighting elements and subtle tweaks to improve aerodynamics.
Power and Performance: 510-hp V8
Under the aluminum hood of the Range Rover SC you will find a 5.0 litre V8 engine fitted with a robust supercharger. This marvelous mill produces 510-horsepower and 461-pound feet of torque at relatively low rpm. Mated to a ZF-engineered, eight-speed automatic transmission, this potent pairing helps the Range Rover SC accelerate from 0-100 kilometres per hour in a scant 5.4 seconds.
While big power and blistering speed have their appeal, buyers of luxury class SUVs are also looking for refinement. As a result, Land Rover’s engineering team has worked hard to reduce noise and harshness within the engine and the gearbox. When driven in a civil manner, the Range Rover SC is a smooth operator. As an added bonus, the engine has been engineered to use less fuel and there has been a significant reduction in harmful CO2 emissions. It also now incorporates start / stop technology.
The design team at Land Rover sought to reduce the Range Rover’s weight as it is the most effective way to improve the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. As a result, the latest Range Rovers now feature an advanced, all-aluminum structure that is immensely strong and weight efficient, but it has also been engineered to withstand the punishing impacts of extreme conditions both on and off-road.
The body is a monocoque design which has been optimized to maintain structural integrity, increase stiffness, and enhance passenger safety. The inherent stiffness of the body and chassis helps bless the Range Rover with dynamic handling. In fact, I found that the vehicle performs like a much smaller sports sedan when the pavement gets twisty.
The electronic steering is responsive and precise, and the vehicle reacted very efficiently to all my inputs as the driver. The centre of gravity is low enough that there is very little body roll when cornering, and the over-sized performance tires do an excellent job of adhering to the asphalt. Unfortunately these same tires hamper ride quality a little due to their low-profile design.
There are few vehicles on earth that can match the four-wheel-drive capabilities of the Range Rover, so when the pavement ends, or road conditions take a turn for the worse, you can be secure in the knowledge that you have a good chance of making it to your destination.
Land Rover’s well-sorted and proven permanent four-wheel-drive system has a 50/50 torque split and a two-speed transfer box for high and low range options. It is supported by the company’s latest version of its Terrain Response system (Terrain Response2), which now features an automatic setting to simplify its operation.
Model year 2014 brings us the fourth generation of this iconic vehicle, and although it derives much of its styling from that of previous iterations, there has been a significant number of updates.
Tech for performance
This innovative technology continuously monitors driving conditions and automatically adapts and optimizes vehicle settings – engine, transmission, centre differential, suspension and traction control- to best suit the ground surface. The driver is also able to manually select the system settings by using the console mounted dial. There are five individual settings designed to help the vehicle tackle driving on slippery surfaces (such as grass, gravel, or snow), through mud and deep ruts, and over sand. The system even features a setting for crawling over rocks.
As part of the revamp, the Range Rover’s suspension has been revised to offer more wheel travel. By using the vehicle’s air suspension setup the operator has the handy ability to quickly increase ground clearance to a maximum of 11.9 inches.
The interior layout seems familiar, but most of the trim, switches and equipment has been updated to give the Range Rover some modern flair. The cockpit and cabin are well designed, and I found that most controls, dials, and instruments were within easy reach of the driver or intended operator. I say most, because the placement of the window switches makes no sense at all, as they reside atop the interior door panel opposite the side mirror. At 6-foot-two inches tall I still had to lean forward to operate them. Add to this the fact that in rainy Vancouver these switches will be drenched by water droplets whenever the window is opened. I can only imagine what effect this will have to the longevity of the electronics.
A large part of the appeal of owning a Range Rover is the impressive look, feel and quality of the vehicle’s passenger compartment. The seats are firm and wrapped in fine leather, and attractive lacquered wood trim is used to class up the cabin. Fit and finish is impeccable, and all materials feel pleasant to the touch and appeal to the eye.
Outward visibility is excellent due to the tall seating position and extended windows, but you will definitely learn to appreciate the large side mirrors and front and rear parking sensors.
While the Range Rover is impressive in size it only offers seating for five. The front bucket seats feature folding armrests which help to hold you in place during aggressive cornering manoeuvres or off-road hijinks. I found the rear seating area comfortable enough for my large frame and big feet, and a flip down centre armrest acts as an effective divider when transporting two adults or troublesome teenagers.
The Range Rover SC can carry 32.1 cu.ft (909 L) of cargo with all seats in place, and up to 71.7 cu.ft. (2,030 L) with the rear seats folded. Access to the cargo compartment is by way of a split gate design. A rather narrow tailgate folds flat to make a nice bench, while the power operated upswing hatch will provide shelter from inclement weather.
The folks at Land Rover were smart to make the fourth generation Range Rover evolutionary rather than revolutionary, as the vehicle has established itself a rather large fan base over the last 45 years. Apparently, the new model has had an immediate impact on sales as it is more efficient and luxurious than its predecessor, and has been outfitted with a host of new tech and safety goodies to help stave off competition from the growing contingent of rivals from both Germany and Japan.
2014 Range Rover Supercharged – Technical Specifications:
Base price (MSRP): $114,990 CAD
Price as tested: $126,095 (Includes: Vision Assist Package – $1,760; Front and Rear Climate Comfort Package – $4,150; Meridian Premium Surround Sound (825 Watts) – $1,850; Wood/leather steering wheel – $425; Grand Black Lacquer Wood Trim – $0.00; Rover Tow Package – $1,300; Documentation Fee – $495; Federal A/C Excise Tax – $100; Advance Disposal Fee – $25; Green Levy – $1,000 ; Destination charge -$1,470.
Type of vehicle: Four-wheel-drive, front-engine, luxury SUV.
Engine: 5.0-litre, supercharged, DOHC, V-8
Horsepower: 510 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 461 lb.-ft. @ 2,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Brakes: Four-wheel disc with ABS
Fuel efficiency (L/100km): City 16.2 (17 mpg); Hwy 10.4 (27 mpg)