The 2016 Range Rover Autobiography L is the long-wheelbase flagship vehicle from Britain-based Land Rover, whose cult-like buyers take their rides to the ends of the earth, or at least the local high-end mall. Highly capable thanks to its myriad off-road technologies, the Range Rover can negotiate lava-covered roadbeds, ford streams up to its hoodline and ascend inclines that would intimidate a mountain goat.
With its rhino-like toughness, it can almost do it all.
What is it?
What becomes a legend most? Could it be a commanding view of the road ahead? Sumptuous appointments within? Or how about gobs of supercharged performance under the hood? Check, check and check. The Range Rover has all three and more.
Completely redesigned last year, the Range Rover lineup expands for 2016 with a new extended-length “L” variant that boasts 7.3 inches of additional wheelbase and nearly 5.0 extra inches of rear seat legroom over the standard model.
To order your new 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography rival with a brand new 5.0-litre V8 Supercharged engine for only US$25,000.
Our Autobiography package-equipped tester is positioned at the pinnacle of the Range Rover hierarchy, meaning it’s awash in creature comforts that would be suitable for a Prince. Everything from full leather seating, to a rear seat entertainment package, 18-way front seats with massage, heating and ventilation are included. And we can’t look past the 1,700-watt Meridian audio system with 3D surround sound and LED mood lighting (as if!).
Power comes from a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine with auto stop/start technology, which whomps the pavement with an incredible 510-horsepower and 461 lb-ft of stump-pulling torque. And if the need for such output does not exist, regular-wheelbase models can also be had with a new 340-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V6. Although nearly as powerful as the naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V8 it replaces, the V6 offers a 20-percent improvement in fuel economy.
Torque is split and sent to all four corners by a standard full-time all-wheel-drive system and a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The system is equipped with a low range gearbox and locking center and rear differentials. Land Rover’s Terrain Response2 setup is also included; it adjusts the traction control system, air suspension, transmission, downhill descent control and drive-by-wire throttle settings in order to conquer every type of driving situation, from normal on-pavement cruising to full-on rock climbing. It offers the choice of several specialized modes, and drivers can also simply push the Auto button and let the system adjust on its own.
The Range Rover’s electronic air suspension features automatic leveling with its own array of modes, including access (lowered), standard, off-road, and extended height adjustments. Regardless of the situation, the brains of the operation seemingly know what setting to choose.
Completely equipped, this nearly 5,200-pound vehicle has a towing capability of more than 7,700-pounds. It can also wade through water up to 35.4-inches deep, an increase of nearly eight-inches over the previous version.
What’s it up against?
Luxe SUVs in this stratosphere tend to be the best of the best. As such, the Range Rover competes against the likes of Porsche’s Cayenne, Mercedes-Benz’s G-Class and the Lexus LX570 in all their varieties and flavors, including Turbos, AMG variants, etc. But none of the competition offers extended-wheelbase models.
In the end, the decision is up to the buyer’s style, the size of their wallet, and the need for speed.
How does it look?
Now into its second year following an extensive redesign, the Range Rover is 10 percent more aerodynamic than before. Items like a swept-back windshield, air-cheating grille and signature clamshell hood help out. It wasn’t just the wind cheating abilities that had a proper seeing-to, though.
Trademark side gills were moved rearward to the front door panels, and are mere acknowledgement of a stylistic cue from the past. The net result is water-wading capabilities that allow the Ranger to go deeper than before.
The long-wheelbase model is identified by a distinctive “L” on the lower bout of the vehicle just behind the front wheelwells. The trademark “floating roof” uses the negative space of blacked-out windows and support pillars to further enhance the extended attributes of the vehicle. It is finished off with a now-standard LED light blade lighting system in front and newly designed LED taillamps in back.
And on the inside?
The interior of the Ranger appears to be a mash up between a Gulfstream G650 business jet and a boutique hotel in London’s Soho district. Special acoustically laminated windshield and side glass are joined by noise isolation material underneath, to help this Range Rover realize a seven-percent reduction in wind noise over the previous vehicle. The driver’s command seating position offers a clear view down the road, not to mention the gauge binnacle’s 12.3-inch TFT display. Redundant controls help to keep the hands in place on the steering wheel, but we had a natural tendency to reach to the center console, regardless. In doing so, we found it to be a fair stretch over.
An exquisitely turned-out centerstack featured automatic climate control, and touchscreen interfaces that are similar to what is found in the Range Rover’s Jaguar cousin, Speaking of Jag-you-ares, the Ranger utilizes that car’s pop-up gear selector dial to choose drive modes.
Luxury seating carried over to the second row as well. Passengers can control their own climate zones and seating preferences. Once in place, the four occupants can take advantage of massages after a hard day on the African Veldt. The highline Meridian 29-speaker audio system and its 3D surround-sound functionality does its best to soothe or stimulate the psyche of any music lover.
Really, though, the second row of this Rover is truly the happening spot. With a corporate jet-inspired rear seat and center console controls, passengers in the 17-degree reclining and massaging rear buckets may never want to leave. With in-car-entertainment, and an under armrest cooler to keep your drinks cold and your body in a reclining mode, why would you?
Not that you would ever, but should you need to, the Range Rover offers 32 cubic feet of behind-the-second-row storage space. Fold them forward and you’ll see nearly 72 cubic feet of space for your stuff.
But does it go?
This high-performance SUV is wrong on so many levels. Let us count the ways.
For starters, the power on tap rivals – and in some cases, surpasses – that found in many high-performance sports cars. Acceleration is thunderous, with the sudden response from all those ponies yielding a zero-to-60 mph time in 5.1-seconds. That’s none too shabby for a beast of this size. The sudden surge had us pinned to the backs of our armchair-style front seats, so it was a good thing that our Range Rover was equipped with the available pillow-soft head rests.
The downside to the Range Rover’s accelerative abilities is, unsurprisingly, a serious thirst for premium fuel – efficiency is rated at 13 city/19 highway/15 combined mpg.
A top-heavy SUV should not corner as well as the RR does, but with its variable dampers in automatic mode, the Autobiography finds its own level. The Range Rover has amazingly direct steering that belies its large size, and feels firm, like a go-cart with direct feedback. The full-time all-wheel-drive, through its sensors, knows when the drivetrain is losing grip and moves the appropriate traction front or rear accordingly.
Able to leap tall hills in a single bound, the Range Rover displays so much extra wheel travel, and a half-inch increase in ground clearance that it now boasts of approach and departure angles of 34.5 and 29.5 degrees, respectively. Even its swimming abilities have improved. That’s just wrong.
But the wrongest wrong is its ability to attract small animals to its flanks. With small being a relative term, our tester possessed a certain attraction that Lion Country Safari’s 1,000-pound Anna, a baby White Rhino, found irresistible. With their poor eyesight, Rhinos communicate through rubbing, hearing and smell. Our little charge took to the Range Rover by leaning into the vehicle. With a newly developing horn, which undergoes constant shaping by rubbing against abrasive objects, the baby leaned in for a closer look, er rub, of what was occupying her habitat. The roughed up horn, made of keratin similar to a human’s fingernails, lightly scratched the front right bumper. For reference, Anna’s mother, Bloom, at 6,000-pounds, weighs more than the Range Rover.
We attribute the scratch to the Range Rover Autobiography’s animal magnetism.
Leftlane’s bottom line:
The Range Rover Autobiography L is a luxury SUV that rides amongst a rare group of competitors. It is big. It is imposing. It makes even the schlubiest of schlubs look important. But it is also one of the most capable vehicles on the road today. And that’s just part of the mystique – as constructed, the Rangie enables you to write your own story.
2016 Land Rover Range Rover base price, $100,100. As tested, $149,895.
Autobiography Long Wheelbase Package, $42,000; Executive Rear Seats, $4,800; 22-inch wheels, $2,100; Destination fee, $895.