- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2005

In the world outside the United States, Range Rover has a reputation of being able to travel virtually anywhere the driver chooses. While the luxurious comfort it offers is an important aspect to the Range Rover, in these markets it seems to take a back seat to its hardiness.

In the United States it is practically the opposite. Most owners choose the Range Rover for its luxurious appointments with the off-road prowess secondary. However, secondary as it may be, the abilities of this vehicle are rated one of the top reasons why these folks buy a Range Rover. It is the old adage: “I want to know that my vehicle can do it if I want to.”

Having the knowledge that their Range Rover can crawl over fallen trees, through mud and up steep ravines is a high priority for these buyers. That’s a fact, even though these folks probably never will go off paved roads.

So, if the average buyer isn’t looking for off-road prowess as his No. 1 reason for purchasing the Range Rover, what is? That can be answered in one word: luxury.

However, Range Rover luxury is not like you might find in a fabulously expensive limousine. The luxury found here is practical and useful. The seats are as supportive as a sports car along with their superior comfort. The instruments are plentiful, yet easy to comprehend once you are familiar with them.

In part, because of the all-new engines — there are two available — the interior compartment is quiet and luxurious and offers a calming atmosphere without becoming lackluster. In fact, to call this vehicle boring is an insult to both the development team and your sense of driving. This Range Rover can and will add excitement to your drive.

Under the hood there are two choices for power, both derivatives of Jaguar engines. The naturally aspirated 4.4 V-8 engine is plenty capable to handle the more than average daily drive. This power plant produces 305 horsepower along with 325 foot-pounds of torque.

My favorite is the wonderfully powerful 4.2-liter V-8 that has a supercharger bolted on for a beautifully smooth 400 horsepower and 420 foot-pounds of torque. While both engines are smooth and powerful, the supercharged engine responds like a herd of horses being chased by a swarm of hornets.

To pull all the power and torque offered by each of these power plants, the development folks have bolted a six-speed automatic transmission that transfers all that power to useable energy on the pavement. For the sporty shifter in you, this transmission also offers CommandShift manual mode. This enables the driver to select the gear he prefers. This unit is one of the better systems on the market, able to put more control in the driver’s hand. It doesn’t interfere with gear selection, like many other luxury vehicles equipped with a manual-mode automatic transmission.

Since the inception of the first Range Rover in 1970, the company has had a wider vision for what was known then as a luxury four-wheeler.

Today, the Range Rover has a more concentrated visualization for this top-notch sport utility vehicle. The new Range Rover highlights luxury, style and versatility. While acceleration and handling may not be attributes Range Rover is concentrating on promoting, you are assured that this Range Rover hasn’t given up on performance.

It has, however, become a superior, enhanced luxury SUV that will, at your command and without worry, take you into the jungles of the Amazon just as easily as it navigates through the asphalt jungle of an American city.

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