Nuts & Bolts

March 25, 2011

Bottom line: The global automobile industry has multiple niche markets. The segment occupied by expensive, full-size, sport-utility vehicles is one of them. Congratulations to Tata for realizing that standard equipment — high-quality components, materials and safety engineering — is the key to opening it up.

Ride, acceleration and handling: It gets top marks in all three, which is amazing. The 2011 Land Rover Range Rover HSE has a curb weight of 5,697 pounds. But it accelerates and handles in the manner of a much lighter vehicle.

Body style/layout: The 2011 Range Rover HSE is a full-size, front-engine, full-time four-wheel-drive luxury sport-utility vehicle of unitized, aluminum body construction.

Engine/transmission: It comes with a standard 5.7-liter, 32-valve, double-overhead cam, direct-injection V-8 engine with variable valve lift and timing (375 horsepower, 375 foot-pounds of torque). The engine requires premium gasoline. It is linked to a six-speed transmission that can be operated automatically or manually.

Capacities: There are seats for five people. Cargo capacity with rear seats in place is 35.2 cubic feet. With rear seats folded, cargo capacity is 74.2 cubic feet. The Range Rover HSE can handle a payload of 1,135 pounds and can be equipped to tow a trailer weighing 7,716 pounds. The fuel tank holds 27.6 gallons of required premium gasoline.

Mileage: A labor of love versus fiscal common sense: You get 12 miles per gallon in the city and 18 miles per gallon on the highway. . .if you are carrying neither cargo nor passengers on a perfectly smooth and level road on a day of mild weather. Changes in any of those variables could negatively affect fuel economy.

Safety: Standard equipment includes front and rear ventilated disc brakes, four-wheel antilock brake protection, emergency braking assistance, hill-descent control, electronic brake force distribution, brake hill-holder assistance, electronic stability and traction control, and side and head air bags.

Price: The base price for the 2011 Land Rover Range Rover HSE is $78,835. Dealer’s invoice price on that model is $71,740. Price as tested is $92,235, including $12,550 in options (adaptive dynamics/electronic rear differential lock, digital radio, premium sound system, climate glass and four-zone interior climate control, wood/leather steering wheel and matching shift knob, rear seat audio/visual entertainment package) and an $850 destination charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $84,011, which means that, in the current slow sales environment for Range Rover models, you have space to bargain.

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