- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2006

While retaining many of its 2006 model-year characteristics, Land Rover’s flagship Range Rover grows more refined and become universally off-road capable for 2007. Several interior improvements and standard Terrain Response, Land Rover’s acclaimed off-road system, highlight the upgrades. An available electronic rear differential further supplements the vehicle’s tough terrain prowess.

Range Rovers almost always gain respect from onlookers on both the boulevards and back roads, so Land Rover sought to improve driver and passengers’ experiences by enhancing the interior of this luxury model.

The air-bag layout now includes seat-mounted front side-impact units, replacing the former side air bags found in the doors. A driver’s knee bolster inflates and the passenger-side frontal unit has been reworked.

Storage improves, as twin glove boxes that release electronically complement better cup holders and improved center console storage. An electronic parking brake and new gearshift lever are more driver oriented.

The emergency brake replaces a conventional lever with a simple switch that automatically disengages when the vehicle drives off. A triple layer windshield, new center-console design, better switch gear and instrument bezels and graphics have been added.

Substantial work has been invested in Range Rover’s HVAC system, yielding stronger air conditioning with better airflow characteristics and less noise. The front seats now may be cooled, in addition to heated, through the perforated center fabric. Land Rover cites a new evaporator that removes 15 percent more heat from the interior via the AC system.

While the interior crew was busy improving ergonomics and comfort, off-road specialists were infusing the big Rover with the latest 4WD technology. Terrain Response, a comprehensive system first seen in the LR3 and optional last year, arrives standard in all 2007 Range Rover models. Five distinct settings — General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Sand, Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl — optimize ride height, stability control, traction control, throttle response, transmission patterns, Hill Descent Control and differential strategies in order to maintain motion in the chosen mode.

Finally, a new electronic rear differential arrives standard on supercharged Range Rover models, and optionally on base HSE naturally aspirated versions. All models include an electronic center differential, but the additional rear unit further improves both off-road agility and on-road stability. Those Range Rovers with the standard 4.2-liter V-8 now get performance suspension components formerly reserved for supercharged models.

The new-for-2006 Range Rover Sport carries over mostly unchanged, although several features and options have been added for the 2007 model year. A Bluetooth-enabled Personal Telephone Integration System arrives as standard, as does one-touch operation for the front passenger’s window and a clock in the driver’s information center. Like the larger Range Rover, Sport models exist in either naturally aspirated HSE or Supercharged trim. Those models with the supercharger now receive Sirius satellite radio as standard, and the options of light cherry or dark oak interior wood accents, two types of sporty leather upholstery and exclusive 20-inch aluminum wheels.

Range Rover Sports share many of the family design characteristics, including the intersecting dual-circle headlights, front fender-mounted side vents (supercharged models) and a body-colored roof that tapers back and appears to float over the glass windows. At 7.2 inches shorter than its big brother, Range Rover Sport possesses handling characteristics not shared by Range Rover, especially considering the relatively smaller 5.3-inch drop in wheelbase that produces shorter overhangs.

Land Rover’s LR3, the volume-selling replacement for the recently retired Discovery, receives trim and equipment improvements for the new model year. A power sunroof, nine-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system and leather trim are all standard. Three-row, seven-passenger seating is included with all V-8 models, while the V-6 SE receives new aluminum wheels. The front passenger’s window includes one-touch operation, while the driver’s seat adds power lumbar adjustment. Finally, a new three-flash feature has been integrated into the turn-signal switch, allowing convenient lane changing.

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