Designers tasked with updating a classic know that less can be more.
That’s the koan Land Rover Chief Creative Officer Gerry McGovern sat down to meditate upon five years ago when plotting the fifth-generation Range Rover, finally on sale next spring.
Since launching just over half a century ago as a rugged 4×4, the iconic nameplate has spawned only five generations. That’s just one new model per decade, an eternity in car years.
“Why would you throw away something so distinctive?” says McGovern, who was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) last year and is a legend in his own right. He pronounced the 2022 Range Rover, shown to reporters last month at a top-secret location in Manhattan, a “masterclass in restraint.”
That’s how the SUV remains relevant while hewing to its heritage. The current model, which launched in 2012, “still looks modern,” McGovern adds. “There’s no wacky Zara styling for us.”
The British-built SUV breached American shores in the 1980s. Back then, the brand heralded its arrival with cheeky magazine ads that read “Remember the $34,000 you were saving for a rainy day?” and “Who says you can’t buy your way out of trouble?” The Range Rover was marketed as a “blend of high-end style and serious off-road capability,” a vehicle “equally at home driving in the countryside as it is chauffeuring passengers to the opera.”
Though its starting price has since multiplied manyfold — depending upon the trim level, the 2022 Range Rover starts between $104,000 and $163,500 — its ethos has remained the same. It does everything, and it does it well. The newest model can make short work of scaling a 45-degree slope while its rear seat occupants stream Netflix shows on a pair of 11.4-inch floating glass screens.
Like its forebears, the SUV features a short front overhang, and longer rear overhang, and a formal grille. “It has a certain majesty about it,” says McGovern, which explains why the Queen drives one.
Meanwhile, its excessively large 23-inch wheels and standard all-wheel steering system keep it confident when cornering and stable at speed. “You can’t have smaller wheels,” McGovern says. “It would be like a guy with a massive chest and skinny arms. It doesn’t work.”
The Range Rover brand has long been popular with the British royal family, as well as well-heeled customers around the world. The current four-model lineup consists of the subcompact Evoque, compact Velar, midsize Range Rover Sport, and flagship Range Rover.
The 2022 Range Rover comes in nine trims: SE, SV Autobiography, and First Edition. All trims are available with a short or long wheelbase and seat five people. The SV Autobiography can be outfitted with the Executive package, which seats four people and provides elbow room that feels too good to be true. But if you choose that route, you may want to hold off on your purchase until the 2023 model year when the package adds an electrically deployable Club Table.
But that’s not all. Now long wheelbase models provide an additional option: seating for seven.
Yes, you read correctly. The Range Rover now comes with an optional third row, a feature McGovern once proclaimed the brand would add “over my dead body.” But for the upcoming generation, he found a way to fit a three-row package within the length of the vehicle without changing its iconic silhouette. The third row sits 1.6 inches higher, creating a stadium seating effect that allows all passengers to see out the windows.
The seats slide back and fold down at the push of a button, providing easy access for people and cargo. The legroom is class-leading; a six-foot adult can sit in the back comfortably. Without significantly altering the SUV’s exterior proportions, the new generation adds three inches to the short wheelbase and eight inches to the longer wheelbase. That translates into an extra 1.6 inches of second-row legroom. Models with the executive package now feature three feet of legroom for the “ultimate second-row experience.”
A Queen’s Cabin
Unless you’re talking Bentley or Rolls Royce, it’s tough to match the quality of the Range Rover’s interior. Like its most recent forebears, the fifth-generation model provides a tactile experience in a whisper-quiet cabin. Finishes include the smooth ceramics, soft near-aniline leather (or Ultrafabrics sustainable non-leather), and the plated metals found in watches and jewelry. Real wood veneer creates a “coffee table furniture aesthetic,” according to Chief Designer Alan Shepherd.
Of course, it has the latest technology, too. A 13.1-inch curved glass screen floats above the dashboard’s controls, providing smartphone-style haptic feedback. The brand’s Pivi Pro infotainment system includes Amazon Alexa integration for the first time in any Land Rover vehicle. The cabin features 14 charging docks but fewer controls than the previous generation for an uncluttered look. A pair of 11.4-inch floating glass screens feature in the back of the generously sized cabin.
Of course, the new model is expected to perform better than ever, keeping its control and composure over broken surfaces and rough terrain thanks to its Terrain Response 2 system with six off-road modes. The driver can also select the setting manually or use the system’s Configurable Terrain Response to create a customized setup. Like the fourth-generation model, the new Range Rover has just over 11 inches of ground clearance and can wade in streams up to nearly three feet deep. It tackles gradients up to 45 degrees.
The 2022 lineup offer a choice between a 395-horsepower mild hybrid powertrain featuring a 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine or a 523-horsepower, 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8. The range-topping 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V8 rockets to 60 mph from standstill in 4.6 seconds. The mild hybrid takes 5.5 seconds to make the journey. A plug-in hybrid will join the lineup in 2023, and a fully electric version is slated to debut the following year.
If I win Powerball, I know what I’m buying.
My Favorite things:
- Curved screen
- Comfortable seats
- Dazzling interior materials
- Ride height
- Second-row legroom