2019 Land Rover Range Rover Road Test
(4 / 5)
- Unrivalled comfort
- Plenty of space
- Ride quality even on big wheels
- True off road ability
- Questions over reliability
In 2013, when the L405 Range Rover hit the road, we thought we had found the world’s most perfect SUV.
With ride comfort that rivaled Rolls-Royce, super-smooth drivetrains, impeccable interior quality and space galore, it had the drive experience perfected. And then you took it off road and it was immediately evident that virtually nothing could stop it.
The problem was it had too many problems. And it wasn’t common to every vehicle either. It’s like a Land Rover lucky dip. Some L405s had a heap of issues, while others worked faultlessly.
Electrical gremlins seemed to be the main occurrence, with the occasional mechanical issue as well.
So when the MY18 update was launched, and along with it a whole new host of touchscreen goodness, you can understand if some folks waited a while before upgrading.
Well, we’ve had our MY19 Range Rover for about two weeks now and yes, there are intermittent glitches, but we’ll get to those in a little while.
So what’s new?
To look at, the latest Range Rover is fractionally different, with a squarer front grille and revised daytime running light (DRL) design, but you’d have to put the MY17 side by side with it to see the changes.
Inside, however, is where most of the work has gone into it. The infotainment system uses the same setup as found in the Range Rover Velar, with twin screens mounted one on top of the other.
The top screen handles media, navigation and sound settings, while the lower screen looks after climate control, seat controls, off-road programs, and vehicle settings. Some options straddle the two categories, so it takes some getting used to.
The bottom screen is the easiest to navigate, with a large area, lots of brightness and not too many controls close together. Some things, like locking out the rear climate control, take a bit of searching, but if you have children, you’ll be finding it out of necessity; having kids alter the fan speed while you’re driving is highly annoying.
The infotainment screen, though, is where we found most of the issues.
For a start, the reversing camera would sometimes come on, and sometimes not. There was no rhyme or reason, it just seemed to drop out whenever it felt like it. It was like a reversing camera lucky dip.
In addition, some of the application buttons took a while to respond after pressing, and in some cases required several presses. It seems like the InControl system has too much to do in the background and occasionally has a meltdown. Perhaps some extra processing power may help?
In front of the driver is Jaguar Land Rover’s lovely 12.3-inch TFT screen, which can be customized to display two, one or even no dials. It will also show off-road information and you can set certain things like the access height, which is where the car lowers as you park to make it easier to get in and out.
Apart from the center stack, the rest of the interior is very similar to the old Range Rover. That said, there has been a lot of work that has gone into the seats and comfort, with revised padding, better construction, and nicer materials.
Both front and back seats are a beautiful way to spend time, but it’s the front seats with their captain’s chair armrests which are the nicest place to be. Optional massage functions, heating, and cooling are probably all worth ticking on the options list, though you will pay for the privilege.
The cargo space is absolutely huge, too. With 31.8 cubic feet of room when the rear seats are up and 68.6 cubic feet when the seats are folded down, there’s not much that it won’t carry.
Then there is a heap of storage space, including a dual glovebox setup with an upper and lower section, huge door bins, a massive center console space under the armrest and cupholders front and back.
If you want a vehicle to pack up and head for the coast (or the forest, depending on your preference), this is the one. It’ll swallow five adults and their luggage for a week without breaking a sweat.
And if you do that, perhaps with camping gear, you start to find the real benefit of owning a Range Rover.
Sure, there’s the cossetting ride that smothers bumps, using brilliant air suspension to absorb big undulations, and we’d say to opt for slightly smaller wheels than were fitted to our test car – 22-inch hoops tend to transmit the smaller bumps a bit too much. The larger dips are easily taken care of.
Like we said, the ride is very good (considering the wheel size), and it handles reasonably well for such a big machine. And if you bought it just for its luxury and space, then you can’t go too far wrong.
But it’s the fact that it can actually head off-road and conquer indomitable terrain that puts it in a class of its own.
There are no other luxury vehicles which have this breadth of ability. The air suspension raises high enough to give it enough ground clearance for most obstacles. Its standard ride height of 8.7 inches is pretty good, but press the suspension button and it raises to 10.4 inches. And then, if you get stuck on top of something, it will unlock an extra inch or so just to help you extricate yourself.
Then there’s the Terrain Response system. You can simply leave the dial on Auto and it will “read” the surface, working out grip levels and apply brakes to any wheels slipping, or lock its differentials if need be. Or you can dial up the terrain, choosing from grass/snow, mud, rocks, or sand. There’s even a dynamic mode that stiffens it up so you can throw it into some bends.
The best way, we found, was to choose your surface. While the auto system is smart, it’s not quite smart enough, and with the correct setting chosen, the Range Rover is just about unstoppable.
The wheels are braked, the diffs lock and unlock and even when you’re buried deep in soft sand, it still manages to kick the car to one side where it will purchase a bit more grip and manage to climb itself out.
There’s also a low-friction launch mode which can prevent it from skidding about on glassy ice roads.
Land Rover has done an amazing job of creating a machine that drives beautifully, has all the mod-cons, makes you feel like royalty and can traverse a desert without getting your suit dusty.
And if you prefer more power to the supercharged V6, there’s also a supercharged V8. Either way, you’re getting an ultra-smooth, ultra-slick vehicle that does exactly what it claims to.
We just hope that Land Rover has built a bit more reliability into this model because it would be a shame to see such a beautiful vehicle sitting in the dealership waiting on a warranty claim.