THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Good: Every bit of the comfort and capability that you expect.
- What’s Bad: Load delays for infotainment and HVAC screens; fuel bills add up in the V8.
Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.
There’s no question that what you’re looking at here, the 2020 Range Rover, is one of the most luxurious and capable mass-production SUVs you can buy. But I have to confess that when walking up to it on the street, I just don’t get very excited by it.
My neighbour, on the other hand, made a point to let me know that her teenage daughter literally screamed when she saw this parked in my driveway because she thinks it’s most beautiful thing on four wheels. When I offered to take her around the block in it, she just about fainted.
I have two things to say about this. One: good on my neighbour’s daughter for having such strong automotive convictions. Pundits say young people don’t care about cars. Maybe I’m fortunate to surround myself with the right people, but anecdotally, that hasn’t been my experience at all. It’s one of the things that keeps me doing what I do for a living.
Two: Thinking this is the epitome of automotive beauty? I don’t get it.
But hey, if we didn’t have different needs and wants, we could just crank out one compact SUV per household and call it a day, right? Life would get boring pretty fast. And if there’s one thing this Range Rover definitely doesn’t represent, it’s the concept of boring.
Choose Your Own Adventure
In the standard wheelbase HSE model, there are four engine options: a 3.0-litre six-cylinder with a mild hybrid system, a diesel V6, a plug-in hybrid, and the one that’s equipped in this test unit, a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 making 518 hp and 461 lb-ft from 2,500 to 5,500 rpm. If you plan to use your Range Rover for any of the things it’s designed to do – and if you’ve ever been to the Land Rover Experience in Montebello, Quebec, then you’ve seen it do a whole lot – this is probably the engine you’ll want. It’s fast, it’s powerful, and it moves around this Range Rover’s 3,160 kg – yes, that’s 6,966 pounds – with such fierceness that you almost need to be ginger with the throttle at times in everyday driving.
As for that weight? To make the Range Rover the off-roading beast that it is, you have to pile on a few things. There’s the standard electronic air suspension, which raises and lowers the ride height manually via a switch or automatically through the drive modes for various terrain, which also adjust the firmness to match the conditions. There’s a standard twin-speed transfer box as well, and this test unit also has an optional active-locking rear differential. This all contributes to the 34.7-degree maximum off-road approach angle, 29.6-degree departure angle, and 900 mm wading depth. And when it’s just going in a straight line on the highway, it’s a complete contrast: smooth, comfortable, and quiet.
Of course, for any of this to matter, you have to actually intend to use your $140,000 SUV for the entirety of its capability. And it’s worth noting that you’ll pay for this in fuel: Natural Resources Canada says you can expect to use 14.4 L/100 km in city driving, 11.2 on the highway, and 12.9 combined. My week with it, which was mostly city driving, ended on an average of 14.1 L/100 km. Given that premium fuel is indicated, this adds up quickly. If you really want one of these because you want the looks and the luxury but you don’t actually intend to get it dirty, you may want to consider one of the more efficient powertrain options.
To Drive or Be Driven
I’ve already covered my opinion on the exterior appearance, though it’s worth pointing out that the optional black pack, 22-inch gloss black wheels, and black contrast roof on this test unit help to modernize the look.
And upon lowering into the driver’s seat, the first thing your eyes meet is a large expanse of black leather dashboard, so it takes a moment for the subtleties of the design, features, and materials to set in. Once they do, though, they make an impression. The wood inlays are beautiful, and I wish there were more of them. The touch points feel weighty and of good quality.
On this tester, the optional 22-way power adjustable seats with heating, ventilation, and massage functions are easy to adjust through the lower touchscreen. (Some of my colleagues despise having HVAC and other comfort controls through a screen like this, and I’ll admit that I didn’t love Jaguar Land Rover’s first attempts at this layout. Now, though, I think they’ve nailed the design. It’s only a shame that the screens are sometimes slow to load on start-up.) This grade includes a large panoramic roof, heated exterior mirrors and a heated steering wheel, and an extra-cost heated windscreen. I love these and wish they were available more widely as they’ve saved me from iced-up windscreens in multiple blizzards. But some people find that living with the glare and visual distraction from the little wires embedded in the glass isn’t worth it. At any rate, the option is there.
More expensive models come with the rear executive seating option, though the rear seats don’t come across as neglected here. Power controls for the window shades and seat-back reclining complement the climate-controlled second-row seats.
The cargo area has a split door design that’s interesting. Yes, it would keep things from falling out, though I wonder whether the load floor is high enough that most people will need to open the lower door to get things into the cargo hold at all. That said, there are buttons mounted in the rear to lower the suspension, just below the controls for the power-folding second-row seats. The total cargo space is 639 L with the rear seats up (and without the executive rear seat option or the PHEV powertrain), and 1,943 L with them folded.
In the past, I’ve been vocal about the problems I’ve found with JLR’s infotainment systems. The one in the 2020 Range Rover is a newer iteration, and apart from the aforementioned slowness in loading, most of the kinks have been worked out. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard equipment.
What’s surprising is to have to pay $4,000 for the Driver Assist Package to access active cruise control, blind spot assist, and high-speed emergency braking, and then add on another $1,800 Vision Assist Package to get automatic high beams and a head-up display. Though if you’re shopping in this price range, perhaps another $6,000 isn’t a big deal.
What you see is what you get: this is a whole lot of SUV. And it comes across as being equal parts luxurious, modern, and living up to its well-known name. It’s worth giving some thought to exactly how much of its capability you need as you’re making decisions on powertrain and packaging. But wherever you land, you’ll end up with the status symbol you’re looking for.