Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2010 Range Rover's looks familiar, driving experience new

The majority of the changes to the 2010 Range Rover are under the skin.

The 2010 Range Rover might look the same, but there are so many changes under the skin that it's as if Land Rover jacked up the body and slid a new car underneath.

The exterior changes are subtle. There's a new grille, new headlamps and a new front bumper. The styling changes have softened the car a wee bit, though it's still a gorgeous ute.

The interior design stays roughly the same (if it ain't broke, don't fix it) but materials were upgraded--there's more leather, more wood, more of what Range Rover owners expect. The main dials have been replaced by a really cool TFT screen projecting virtual dials.

Two new direct-injection 5.0-liter V8s are available, normally aspirated and supercharged, both Jaguar/Land Rover developed. The naturally aspirated engine produces 375 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque. That horsepower figure is just 25 hp less than the outgoing supercharged model. Meanwhile, the new supercharged version now cranks out 510 hp and 461 lb-ft. Both engines are mated to a ZF six-speed automatic transmission. The supercharged version will hit 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, more than a second quicker than before.

A digital screen replaces traditional gauges in the instrument cluster of the 2010 Range Rover.

The suspension now includes what Land Rover claims is the world's first (in a production car) adaptive damping system that measures the road ahead of the vehicle and adjusts the suspension accordingly. There also are bigger brakes to stop the big beast better, and a new stability and roll-control system.

It all works fantastically, we must say. Both new Rovers are quick--the normally aspirated model is almost as fast as the old supercharged model while the new supercharged model is a rocket ship. If anything, Land Rover's 5.9 second 0-to-60-mph claim seems conservative.

The suspension changes and electronic gizmos make the new Rover almost flingable, considering its near 6,000-pound weight. Pushed into corners, the truck feels controlled and body roll is minimal (again, considering other huge utes). Out on the open road, it's smooth and serene. And, of course, the thing will go damn near anywhere. In Spain, we drove it over rocks, up rock walls, down hills, through mud--it took everything we could throw at it.

The normally aspirated car will cost $79,525 while the supercharged car will set you back $95,125. Look for a fall debut.

If you're in the market for a big SUV, start your search here.


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