THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Often imitated, never duplicated.
- What’s Worst: Price is daunting but so is what it offers.
- What’s Interesting: All seats with multiple massage features including new Hot Stone function.
Majestic barely begins to describe the sensation of wafting down the highway at the controls of the 2018 Range Rover LWB V8 Autobiography.
In all the years I’ve been writing about automobiles, I’ve rarely gone on at length about an interior – but this is the exception.
It all starts with front seats that are wider on the outside, making getting in and out easier thanks to the wider seat frames and deeper foam for 2018.
While many models get 20-way adjustable Windsor front seats, Autobiography versions are the highest trim and thus optional seats are 24-way power adjustable with extendable leg cushions for thigh support and adjustable side bolsters that can be ordered with cooling and massage functions.
And speaking of massage, both the front and rear seats come with several soothing selections including the newly added Hot Stone which offers, to quote Range Rover, “four central heated massage elements while retaining a cool or ambient temperature throughout the rest of the seat, so passengers enjoy a more intense and effective experience. The seats produce continuous rolling waves across the back and gently apply heat to the spine.”
The seat position, massage functionality, temperature of the seats and rear cabin climate controls can all be managed from brand’s new Comfort Controller Smartphone App, which gives passengers control of the executive rear seats.
And it is those rear passengers who really get the premium class treatment with a seat cushions that blend in with the C-pillar to create what Range Rover calls “wraparound lounge-like interior.”
Between the two back seats is a new power deployable centre console, replacing the former console that was fixed and extended the length of the rear cabin. The new one can also be raised to create three-passenger seating.
The rear seats recline up to 40 degrees with the long wheelbase (thus LWB in the name) adding 186 mm more legroom for a total of 1,206 mm where you can really stretch out.
And I have to comment on the ivory-tone leather seating and trim with honey-coloured wooden trim which was truly was inviting.
And then there are a bevy of splendid little touches such as the front cupholders that slide forward opening up a 4.5-litre storage bin with USB charging port.
An available small fridge in the centre console holds up to four, 1.5-litre bottles and chills to –5 degrees Celsius.
But the knockout for me was the power sunroof blind that can be opened and closed by a gesture control system that can sense the wave of a hand.
OK, enough about the amenities. It’s time to talk about the SUV that sits roughly in the middle of Range Rover price hierarchy and trim levels between the SWB (short wheelbase) diesel which is the entry level model (if you can call $133,000 entry) and the V8 LWB SV Autobiography starting at $233,000.
The LWB V8 Autobiography as tested here starts at $163,000 with a whole slew of options, such as the 24-way Hot Stone massage seats at $2,650 for a grand total of $169,900 including $1,600 destination fee.
Is it worth it? Darn right!
Power comes from a supercharged, direct injection V8 producing 518 hp and 461 lb/ft of torque mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission and Range Rover’s legendary four-wheel-drive system.
The driver can now select from one of seven Terrain Response drive modes, as opposed to five in the 2017 model. They are Dynamic, Eco, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand, Rock Crawl and Comfort, which is the default.
I put almost 1,000 km on the V8 Autobiography including a jaunt down to Niagara for a 70th anniversary celebration of the Land Rover staged by Jaguar Land Rover Canada. That was followed by a Labour Day trip to see friends in southwestern Ontario.
This is a very big, long and tall SUV and it felt more like piloting a yacht, but a very opulent one at that.
Because of the long wheelbase there was some longitudinal undulation at highway speeds in the Comfort setting, which went away when I switched to Dynamic.
Despite its girth, the supercharged V8 is so powerful and torque distribution so seamless that there are few full-size SUVs that can keep up with it.
It can do 0-100 km/h in 5.4 seconds with a top speed of 209 km/h – not too shabby for a big truck.
The view from the driver’s seat is truly commanding. Caught in a torrential rainstorm on the way back from Niagara, I raised the height of the chassis, which put my eyes above the spray of the cars ahead of me for a clearer view.
Worth mentioning is the second generation head up display (HUD) which is larger for 2018 at 8.7/3.6-inches reading out turn-by-turn navigation with street name, off-road information such as slope angle and wheel direction, cruise control settings and available rpm and gear information.
Giving this back at the end of my week was not easy because I thoroughly enjoyed every kilometre.
Yes, it’s pricey, but for anyone desiring a full-size premium SUV, they will find the 2018 Range Rover LWB V8 Autobiography more than fills the bill.
2018 Range Rover LWB V8 Autobiography
BODY STYLE: Five-seat, full-size SUV, premium luxury SUV
DRIVE METHOD: Eight-speed Automatic, permanent four-wheel-drive with Terrain Response
ENGINE: 5.0-litre, direct injection, supercharged V8 (518 hp, 461 lb/ft of torque)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium) NA
TOWING CAPACITY: Up to 3,500 kg when properly equipped
CARGO: 639 litres rear seat upright, 2,142 litres rear seat forward
PRICE: Base $163,000; as tested, $169,900 including $1,600 destination fee
WEBSITE: Range Rover Autobiography
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