2022 Land Rover Range Rover reasserts itself as king of luxury SUVs

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It can launch to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, carry seven passengers in comfort, tromp up and down steep grades, crawl over rocks, and even tackle a twisty road competently. All the while it wraps occupants in a cocoon of modern luxury. It’s the 2022 Land Rover Range Rover, and it’s here to remind the expanding competition that it’s still the luxury SUV benchmark.

The fifth-generation Range Rover faces a much different market than the fourth-generation model that debuted in 2013. New competition has arrived from above and below. Ultra-luxury brands like Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, and Lamborghini have entered the SUV market, while Cadillac, Lincoln, and Jeep have reached upscale to contend with the vehicle that started the luxury SUV craze.

The 2022 Range Rover doesn’t copy its copiers. Instead, the king of luxury SUVs pushes the luxury envelope even further, adds a long-awaited seven-passenger version, and smartly updates its powertrains.

The new seven-seat, long-wheelbase model gives the Range Rover one of the few things it’s lacked—all the better to take on the American truck-based SUVs—while a SV model pushes $200,000 to battle the ultra-luxury rivals with even higher levels of luxury and personalization. I experienced all of this and more at the 2022 Range Rover media drive in California’s Napa Valley.

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (Technology)

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (Technology)

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (Technology)

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (Technology)

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (Technology)

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (Technology)

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (Technology)

All-around performance

In a short three-month production run, the 2022 Range Rover arrives with Land Rover’s current mild-hybrid 3.0-liter turbo-6 powertrain that shuttles 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque through an 8-speed automatic. That’s offered only in the SE trim; every other 2022 Range Rover comes with a BMW-sourced 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 good for 523 hp and 553 lb-ft. In addition, a plug-in hybrid with 434 hp and 41 miles of electric range is set for the 2023 model for a $3,900 upcharge and a full electric Range Rover is due in 2024.

Both current engines are fine choices. The V-8 appeals for its power, muffled growl, and smooth character. It may be a BMW engine, but Land Rover had input in its development, ensuring that the oiling system can handle a 45-degree tilt off-road, the intake sits high enough for almost 35.9 inches of water fording capability, and the engine mounts can withstand a ditch drop when the path falls away.

If the BMW V-8 recalls powertrains from the era when BMW owned Land Rover, so will its performance: Land Rover quotes a 0-60 mph time for V-8 Range Rovers of 4.4 seconds. The engine doles out scads of power and jackrabbit starts in vehicles like the BMW M550i and X5, but it’s tuned to act more civilized here. The power doesn’t punch you in the gut, but instead builds confidently and makes passing a breeze. The 8-speed automatic works the same: reserved under normal circumstances, but quick to react when pushed or in the Sport mode that’s chosen with another flick of the shifter.

2022 Land Rover Range Rover at Napa Valley press drive, April 2022

2022 Land Rover Range Rover at Napa Valley press drive, April 2022

2022 Land Rover Range Rover at Napa Valley press drive, April 2022

2022 Land Rover Range Rover at Napa Valley press drive, April 2022

2022 Land Rover Range Rover at Napa Valley press drive, April 2022

2022 Land Rover Range Rover at Napa Valley press drive, April 2022

For all the V-8’s power, the turbocharged inline-6 is an equally compelling choice. Available for $18,300 less, it’s quieter when pushed, equally smooth, and its 5.8-second 0-60 mph time is still plenty quick.

Powertrain performance is just one bullet in the Range Rover’s varied performance arsenal. With its hallmark all-wheel-drive system, six-mode terrain-management system, 48-volt active roll bar system, and active locking rear differential, the Range Rover doesn’t backtrack from its off-road roots. The 4WD system can disconnect the front wheels for better fuel economy, and the active roll bars can disconnect to enable full wheel travel to keep at least one wheel on the ground in extreme off-road situations.

An air suspension with 4.9 inches of travel (actually 7.1 inches in certain situations) helps the Range Rover cut through the air on the highway, handle better on the road, and raise to clear off-road obstacles. Its standard ground clearance is 8.7 inches, but an Access mode for ingress/egress drops it to 6.7 inches, an Off-Road 1 mode raises the ride height to 10.3 inches and Off Road 2 props it up to 11.6 inches. Those are the only heights the driver can choose, but the Range Rover can also detect when it’s stuck and raise the ground clearance first to 12.8 inches then to 13.8 inches to help it crawl out of the muck. Conversely, it can lower the vehicle 0.6 inch at highway speeds to better cheat the wind.

2022 Land Rover Range Rover at Napa Valley press drive, April 2022

2022 Land Rover Range Rover at Napa Valley press drive, April 2022

2022 Land Rover Range Rover at Napa Valley press drive, April 2022

2022 Land Rover Range Rover at Napa Valley press drive, April 2022

2022 Land Rover Range Rover at Napa Valley press drive, April 2022

2022 Land Rover Range Rover at Napa Valley press drive, April 2022

Dirt-road driving

The media drive included off-roading on hilly vineyard dirt paths. While it wasn’t overly technical, it did challenge the vehicle’s ability to climb and descend steep grades. The Range Rover’s Terrain Response system teamed with its low-range gearing, hill descent control, and off-road cruise control to automate many of the off-road maneuvers, leaving only steering and some throttle modulation in my control. 

Climbing grades as steep at 20 degrees proved easy, and only a 34-degree downward slope taxed the Rover’s ability, but it handled that challenge as well. Short overhangs and a tall ride height unlock a 34.7-degree approach angle, a 27.7-degree breakover angle, and a 29.0-degree departure angle for the short-wheelbase model, none of which were breached. And when I took control of the throttle, it was easy to dial in the right speed without lurching forward too quickly and dashing the underbody on protruding rocks.

The off-road mechanicals also improve the on-road behavior. Dynamic mode firms up the standard twin-valve Bilstein adaptive dampers and stiffens the active roll bars to help control body lean in turns.

The Range Rover sits high and weighs almost 6,000 lb, but it competently attacked twisty Napa roads, in part because the vehicle now links two miles’ worth of navigation data with its suspension to predict and adaptively damp the vehicle for the road ahead. The roll bars work diligently to rein in the weight and prevent the beast from flopping side to side, while the steering provides a light touch and direct responses. Standard rear-axle steering makes it feel smaller than its size as it virtually shortens the wheelbase through tight corners. With the ability to turn the rear wheels 7.3 degrees opposite of the fronts at parking lot speeds, it also makes perpendicular parking much easier and reduces the turning circle to a compact car-like 35.9 feet.

I drove both the standard-wheelbase and long-wheelbase models, and both felt much the same through turns even though the latter is 8.0 inches longer. It likely helped, however, that the long-wheelbase model had the inline-6 engine, which took some weight off the nose and improved turn-in response compared to the V-8

The 2022 Range Rover has grown substantially. A new platform made from 81 percent aluminum with high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel in key places improves torsional rigidity by 50 percent despite a wheelbase that is about three inches longer in the standard body style and 11 inches longer in the long-wheelbase version. The stronger structure allows for softer suspension tuning, which is important because the Range Rover now offers 23-inch wheels with wide 285/40 tires. You’d never know it when you hit a bump, though. Land Rover engineers made sure the 23-inch wheels and tires would weigh no more than the 22s of the last generation. The tires seem to absorb any road imperfection they encounter as part of a connected, supple ride. My one complaint, however, is the road noise thrown off by those tires. It’s quite noticeable above 40 mph, and it’s the one blemish on an otherwise serene driving experience.

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (New)

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (New)

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (New)

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (New)

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (New)

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (New)

Smoothly styled

Against the progressive design of the last-generation Range Rover, the new SUV’s look offers a more subtle advance from nearly every angle, but the result is clean, modern, and quite slippery. The outline changes little, and if the prior version seemed restrained, the new one’s almost shorn of extraneous detail.

The new vehicle adopts a less is more design without the usual heavy SUV surfacing. The nose looks similar to the last model’s, but the hockey stick side trim gives way to vertical flourishes behind the front wheels, in tandem with nearly flush side glass. A thin line slices from nose to tail just under a shoulder line that omits the usual bright trim on its way to meet a gently sloped roofline. The body narrows after the rear wheels, and the rear end has a set of vertical blade-style taillights integrated with lines of horizontal trim above and below. The tail is the largest difference between this generation and last.

If the outgoing Range Rover had sculptural qualities, this one’s overtly sculpture. It’s so shorn of extraneous lines and the surfaces sit so flush that it cuts a coefficient of drag of just 0.30, down from 0.34. That, plus the switch to the BMW engine, improves V-8 efficiency by 17 percent.

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (Technology)

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (Technology)

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (New)

2022 Land Rover Range Rover (New)

2022 Land Rover Range Rover SV

2022 Land Rover Range Rover SV

A grand cabin

Range Rover’s crisply drawn cabin has the airy and spare feel of a modern media wall, with a curved 13.1-inch touchscreen plunked on its smoothly leathered surface. A configurable 13.7-inch screen displays gauges, and the touchscreen has eight panels that drivers can move around for ease of use.

A longer wheelbase translates to more space, especially in the long-wheelbase body style. Front seat occupants have 20-way power adjustments, with basic controls on the doors and fine-tuning available through the touchscreen. Heating comes standard, with cooling and massage available, and front seat space could accommodate an NFL lineman. The rear seat in the short wheelbase has only decent leg room, which shrinks too much when that lineman is driving.

The Range Rover’s first third row, offered with the long wheelbase, checks in as useful but not overly spacious. A pair of adults will fit back there provided they’re under 6 feet and they come to an agreement with the second-seat passengers for a balance of space. In turn those in the second row may have to negotiate with first-row occupants to delegate space equitably for all rows. A power-sliding second row takes eight seconds to move forward to allow third-row access, which Land Rover says is quicker than all powered rivals, but is far slower than seats that tumble manually. A four-passenger, long wheelbase model offers reclining rear seats, rear controls, and lay down rear legroom.

The interior ambiance stands out as one of the Range Rover’s great strengths. Trimmed with leather (that even drapes down over the seat bottoms) or available woven Kvadrat wool upholstery, and inlaid with aluminum and bronze or wood trim (or both), the Range Rover’s new cabin radiates an urbane glow, as if it’s an extension of a tony loft. It’s thoroughly modern and meticulously appointed. One element doesn’t seem to fit, though. The Meridian sound system has a pair of speakers at the base of the A pillars. They’re housed in plastic with plastic speaker grilles, and they look cheap and out of place in such a grand cabin, especially considering the speakers in the rear doors have metal grilles. Land Rover said these materials were chosen for crash-test reasons and because that structure connects to the mirror housings

2022 Land Rover Range Rover SV

2022 Land Rover Range Rover SV

2022 Land Rover Range Rover at Napa Valley press drive, April 2022

2022 Land Rover Range Rover at Napa Valley press drive, April 2022

2022 Land Rover Range Rover at Napa Valley press drive, April 2022

2022 Land Rover Range Rover at Napa Valley press drive, April 2022

Pay for play

Land Rover charges heavily for the new Range Rover. The price for the base SE trim is $105,350 for a five-seat, short-wheelbase model with the inline-6 mild-hybrid powertrain. While that’s a lot, it seems like a bargain in a world with $100,000 Jeep Grand Wagoneers. Land Rover adds $6,000 more for the long-wheelbase body style and two more seats, and $18,300 to add the twin-turbo V-8.

All other models come with the twin-turbo V-8 standard, though the prices jump considerably. The next step up is the $153,350 Autobiography five-seater. A First Edition costs $159,550 in standard spec or $5,300 more for the long-wheelbase body.

And then there’s the $194,450 SV model. Land Rover will offer no more SVRs moving forward as all vehicles touched by the Special Vehicles division will sport SV insignia and enhancements based on the strengths of the individual vehicle. In the Range Rover’s case that means more luxury and personalization. The SV gets more equipment, but that’s not the point. Rather, the design, colors, and trim all take a step up. For instance, the SV has additional Atlas Silver exterior trim, its own grille and 22-inch wheel designs, bits of ceramic interior trim, extended semi-aniline leather, a leather headliner, SV-exclusive seat perforations and embroidery, marquetry wood interior surfaces, and larger 13.1-inch rear seat entertainment screens. Buyers can personalize their SVs further with black or bronze exterior accents, black or bronze roofs, and the Serenity and Intrepid interior packages that allow for lighter and darker leathers for the first and second rows. That’s a styling cue I think will start a trend.

The 2022 Land Rover Range Rover is an all-around performer that continues to set the benchmark for luxury and capability in an SUV. Sure, it has plenty of new rivals, but when the best gets better and innovates its brand of luxury and style like a hot designer during Paris Fashion Week, there’s no need to turn your loyalties toward the pretenders to the throne.

Land Rover paid for hotel, transportation, and meals for Motor Authority to bring you this first-hand report.

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