It may be hyperbole but the Range Rover just might be the Rolls-Royce of sport-utilities. It's recognized as the world's most capable mud sloshing and rock crawling vehicle available to the general public. And you can make that an awfully thin slice of the public since prices start at $77,675.
That was the base price of our 2008 Range Rover HSE that we had for one week. And that was the poor man's version. Our vehicle had a 4.4-liter V8 that made 305 horsepower and 325 pounds-feet of torque. It was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift capability and it had permanent four-wheel drive.
There is also a more expensive Ranger Rover powered by a supercharged V8 that makes 400 horsepower and 420 pounds-feet of torque. But our test vehicle was just fine.
In fact, it had that whoa! factor when we first drove it. The Range Rover was quiet, it rode like a cloud, it had a high seating position, the interior felt like a library or a ritzy study and it had a cachet that garnered looks from just about everyone who saw it.
The Range Rover is the kind of vehicle known to most folks who can walk and talk at the same time. We experienced admiring looks during all of our test-drive week, none of the initial glitter ever wore off.
For 2008, the good folks at Land Rover which produces the Range Rover enhanced its on road sumptuousness as well as it's off road prowess. They made the terrain response system standard. Just turn a dial on the center console and throttle response, the transmission, electronic differentials, anti-lock brakes, the air suspension, traction control and hill descent all work in sync to a specific ride depending on road conditions.
There were five settings: general driving; grass, gravel, and snow; sand; mud and ruts; and rock crawl. Most of those settings are for rough or at least inclement terrain. But the 2008 Range Rover's on road accoutrements have also been made more inviting.
The previously optional leather dash top is now standard, storage slots for the rear seat entertainment system's remote control has been added to the rear seat arm rest and the door sill plats were changed to a ribbed design. When operating at this level it is the small things that matter. A four-corner independent suspension system, air springs and automatic leveling aided the highway ride and handling.
The Range Rover had heated and cooled power front seats and heated rear seats. The premium audio system pumped out 710 watts through 14 speakers and rather than one slot of the rear-seat DVD entertainment system there was a six disc DVD player located in the wall of the cargo area.
There were voice controls for the navigation, telephone and audio systems. Of course, there was Bluetooth that turns compatible cell phones into hands free car phones. The Range Rover had nine air bags. There were front, side and head for the driver and front seat passenger. There was also a knee bag for the driver; What's more, head air bags were also available for the outer rear passengers.
If you've got the bucks, the Range Rover is the sort of vehicle that you can buy once and it'll be the only vehicle you'll ever need.