Land Rover Range Rover HSE (2001)
By Matt/Bob Hagin
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 68,000 Price As Tested $ 69,165 Engine Type OHV 16-valve 4.6 Liter V8 w/SMFI* Engine Size 277 cid/4552 cc Horsepower 222 @ 4750 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 300 @ 2600 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 108.1"/74.4"/185.5" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 5135 pounds Fuel Capacity 24.6 gallons Tires (F/R) 255/55R18 mud-and-snow Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/four-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/five-door Domestic Content Three percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 12/15/14 0-60 MPH 9.5 seconds Maximum cargo capacity 58.0 feet Maximum towing capacity 7700 pounds * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
(As a American GI, Bob Hagin was introduced to the Land Rover line in 1954 when the British Army used them in Korea. His son Matt was introduced to a much more civilized version many years later.)
MATT - Land Rover actually originated the luxury sport/utility genre when it brought over its Range Rover in '87. The vehicle soon developed a following among the "landed gentry" who wanted an off-road vehicle that was tough and dependable, but also luxurious. The company has pretty much stuck to this original formula and while lots of contemporary SUVs are somewhat faster, quicker and better handling on the pavement, there are few that are more posh or are more at home crawling over boulders or fording streams and creeks. The Range Rover is as suited to driving down the rough roads of the Baja Peninsula as it is cruising down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
BOB - Unlike the latest batch of SUVs that are based on raised and modified sedan platforms, the Range Rover HSE four-door is attached to a truck-like ladder frame and mounts solid "live" axles both front and rear. And unlike its competitors in the luxury end of the SUV market, its chassis, engine and driveline are engineered to be driven over almost any terrain. There are no conventional suspension springs and the chassis is carried on four air bladders that are attached to a computer-controlled on-board air compressor. The system senses the surface of the route and modifies the spring rate and chassis height to match the conditions. Each wheel has over eight inches of vertical travel and the whole vehicle can be raised by the driver if it's felt that more ground clearance is needed. It can also be lowered to its minimum height so passengers can get in and out more easily. The only transmission that's available is a four-speed ZF-brand automatic that couples up to a high-and-low range transfer case. The high range has a "Sport" mode for higher upshift speeds as well as a Normal position for better gas mileage. The low range can also be up-and-down shifted manually if more driver control is needed.
MATT - Besides its sophisticated power-transfer systems, the HSE has a bunch of other equipment that keeps drivers from getting in over their heads. The four-wheel-drive system operates all the time and at any speed. The traction control system works with a viscous coupler that shifts power around to the wheels that have the most grip and applies individual braking to the wheel that has started to spin. The Rover press information says that if at least one of the four wheels can get a grip, the Range Rover will usually pull itself out of a problem. And if any wheel gets hopelessly bogged down, the system will pull it up into the chassis.
BOB - The V8 engine in the Range Rover is due for some upgrading or a replacement. It displaces 4.7 liters and it's an all-aluminum design but its two valves per cylinder are pushrod activated. It's a old design that Rover bought from General Motors almost four decades ago. In its current form it has 222 horses and 300 pound/feet of torque, and while it has enough low-speed power to pull itself through anything, at 5000 pounds, it could stand an injection of additional horsepower. Now that Ford owns Land Rover, maybe some of that high-powered Mustang muscle will filter down.
MATT - If our Range Rover HSE is a bit short on ponies, Dad, it doesn't lack anything in the creature-comfort department. The upholstery is leather, of course, and color coordinated with the standard deep pile carpeting. The window area rivals that of a tour bus and the global positioner-operated navigational system is so sophisticated that it not only gives turn-by-turn voiced directions but it can be set up so that when it's driven over trackless territory, the system will set up digital "markers" so that the driver can find the way back.
BOB - The auto business is unpredictable, Matt. Just after World War II, Land Rover stayed in business by recycling surplus U.S. Army parts into multi-purpose farm vehicles and now just 50 years later it makes the "official" sport/utility vehicle for the British royal family.