[Editor’s note: While the model tested here was a 2022 Range Rover P530 First Edition that was available as a launch-year special edition, the fundamentals – including the standard and available features – remain unchanged.]
True luxury means not needing to compromise.
Typically, modern SUVs are nothing but rolling compromises. They’re either practical, sporty, stylish, or posh, but it’s rare to find more than one or two of those qualities in the same sport utility. As the originator of the premium SUV, Land Rover’s range-topping Range Rover has for decades managed to artfully blend an upper-crust British cabin with genuine off-road capability; and as the generations have soldiered on, it’s added more performance acumen, too.
Now in its fifth generation, the 2023 Land Rover Range Rover arrives as an improvement over its predecessor in nearly every aspect.
Most obviously, the fifth-gen Range Rover wears a magnificent new exterior that simultaneously looks fresh, contemporary, and properly posh, yet unmistakably like a Range Rover thanks to subtle updates to the nose, the tall and proud profile, and the generous vertical fender flourish. The biggest visual change happens around back, where a black trim loop houses the vertical LED taillights.
This tester was finished in Sunset Gold Satin paint that added nearly $10,000 to the sticker price, and while it might seem like a grotesque overspend, it was applied beautifully and fit the personality of the new Range Rover perfectly. Even the wildly oversized wheels are downplayed thanks to their black finish. Overall, the exterior design is an absolute triumph of simplicity.
While the distinctive styling offers plenty of visual highlights, the new Range Rover continues the sensory delights before a driver even pushes the ignition button. The olfactory senses are treated to the cabin’s expansive, rich, aromatic hides as soon as the doors swing open, and the wool carpets are plush enough to warrant removing one’s shoes just to feel the decadence. [Did you kick off your Gucci loafers, Jeff? – Ed.]
Fire up the engine and its distant thrum barely intrudes the cabin, and even at speed, the lack of noise and vibration is the best your author has experienced this side of a Rolls-Royce, enabling occupants’ eardrums to be tickled by favourite tunes shared through a sensational stereo.
The driver’s throne is noteworthy for its adjustability, ensuring comfort for any size or shape of body to occupy it, and offering one of the best tension-melting massagers in any vehicle on the market. The seats and steering wheel are heated, and so are the armrests.
As lovely as it is to pilot the Range Rover, it’s even more comfortable in the rear seat that reclines and lifts your legs, prying your feet away from that rich wool carpeting.
The ride quality is very good, but this tester wasn’t quite as smooth and supple as the last Range Rover your author drove a few years back. The electronic air suspension works its considerable magic, taking the edge off road imperfections, but the mass of the 23-inch wheels and minimal sidewall of the tires transmits more impact to the cabin than expected.
High end materials abound, and in addition to all the creature comforts mentioned earlier the Range Rover can be loaded up with fancy interior lighting, a panoramic sunroof, soft-close doors, a console beverage cooler, rear-seat entertainment screens and headphones, on-board Wi-Fi, and a convoluted set of leather cushions to turn the cargo area into the most lavish tailgate party zone.
Overall, the user experience is a positive one. The driving position is tall and commanding, with a great view over the hood and minimal blind spots, plus nice and big door mirrors. Land Rover has made some good strides in updating its infotainment system, and the large touchscreen used here is responsive and easy to navigate despite a considerable number of features buried within, ranging from ride height and quality to off-road and performance drive modes.
The gauges in Land Rover and Jaguar models have been digital for a few generations now, and they’ve been done well. The pair of simulated speedometer and tachometer are legible and handsome, but the display can be configured to be dominated by a map or other prioritized elements.
The Range Rover is deep into the current trend of haptic controls, though, and that means some of the climate switches can be needlessly tricky to operate without focused, deliberate actions; the same goes for the steering wheel controls. At least there’s still a volume knob, even if it’s rather small and situated down beside the gear selection knob.
There are a significant number of backseat operations that can be conducted, from the multitude of seat position and massage functions, to climate, rear screen and audio controls. Rear-seat controls ranging from seat position and massage to climate and entertainment are managed via a digital touchpad mounted in the centre armrest. Some of the controls aren’t quite as intuitive as they could’ve been, and others are downright absurd, like the cupholder button that opens a panel and requires yet another button push to expose the spring-loaded beverage holder.
For such a premium machine, it’s remarkably practical. Passenger space for four is excellent, with space for a fifth adult passenger available when required. A longer wheelbase version is available for three-row seating, too. It’s a wonderful highway cruiser, but can also navigate urban settings with ease thanks to rear wheel steering that makes it surprisingly manoeuvrable even in tight parking lots.
The cargo hold offers up more than 1,100 L of volume that expands to 2,365 L when the rear seats are folded flat. Plus, the Range Rover is rated to tow 3,500 kg (7,700 lb).
Although neither the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) nor the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have conducted crash tests, the Range Rover earns a high safety score here due to its wealth of active and passive safety features including automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automated high-beam control, lane-centring, and parking sensors.
Driving Feel: 7/10
Although the massive tires diminish ride quality and undo the awesome off-road capability baked into every Range Rover, they do help the tall and nearly 2,600-kg (5,732-lb) SUV hustle around curves at an eyebrow-raising pace. However, there’s a lot of body roll that’ll ensure nobody mistakes the big Range Rover for a Jaguar F-Pace in the corners.
There are a number of more powerful and quicker premium SUVs out there, but they tend to be overtly sporty machines. This new Range Rover ditches the venerable 5.0L supercharged engine for a twin-turbocharged 4.4L V8 that will be familiar to BMW X7 and X5 M50i owners. It increases power modestly and torque significantly, resulting in an SUV that’ll rip from a stop to highway speeds in less than five seconds.
More importantly, the new engine offers ample and effortless thrust for passing, or simply zipping around town. The eight-speed automatic transmission is a polished unit, too, offering swift but smooth shifts.
Fuel Economy: 6.5/10
With great V8 power comes a great thirst for fuel, and the Range Rover’s city rating of 15.1 L/100 km isn’t exactly frugal. Still, the highway rating of 11.1 L/100 km isn’t bad, and both figures better those of both the Cadillac Escalade V and Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600. During a 700-km test, the computer showed a reasonable overall average of 13.6 L/100 km after a mix of highway wafting, urban commuting, and dipping into the big engine’s lusty power as often as possible.
While a $200,000 SUV might not exactly seem like a value leader, this score stems from the ability to build a Range Rover exactly how a buyer might want it. Short wheelbase or long, and currently with a few different gasoline powertrains but soon with electrification, too, the Range Rover lineup spans from a $137,850 SE model to over $350,000 for a fully optioned long wheelbase SV version.
This tester was a P530 First Edition, which closely resembles the lavish Autobiography trim, and if you can do without the satin finish paint, it’d ring in at $182,000 – roughly the cost of a Cadillac Escalade V or Mercedes-AMG GLS 63. Of course, both of those machines offer significantly more power and space, but the Range Rover arguably has more elegance and style, and if you want a more luxurious British SUV, a Bentley Bentayga starts at well over $200,000 and a Rolls-Royce Cullinan over $400,000. Buyers enamoured by the comfort and performance of the Range Rover may wish to consider a very well-optioned BMW X5 or X7 with the same drivetrain, and they cost considerably less.
The new Land Rover Range Rover offers more and better-sorted technology than ever before, improved performance, and spectacular new styling while maintaining the hallmarks of sublime cabin finishes and the promise of real off-road capability. As far as premium machines are concerned, the Range Rover requires fewer compromises than most making it a true luxury offering, and one that’s even better than before.
|Engine Cylinders||Twin-turbo V8|
|Peak Horsepower||523 hp @ 5,500 rpm|
|Peak Torque||553 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||15.1 / 11.1 / 13.3 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||1,153 / 2,365 L seats up/down|
|Model Tested||2022 Land Rover Range Rover P530 First Edition|
|Price as Tested||$199,170|
$15,120 – Satin finish paint, $9,400; 23-inch wheels, $3,000; Shadow exterior package, $1,100; Black contrast roof, $1,100; Heated windshield, $500; Scale model package, $20