If you've ever watched "The Sound of Music" or "Mary Poppins," you've probably wished for a nanny to wrangle your family. Someone who can sing is preferred, but what would be ideal is a structured taskmaster who won't take any guff. Don't bother with a nanny; instead, get a 2011 Land Rover Range Rover. It will get your kids into civilized shape before you can open an umbrella and float away.
Like any fastidious nanny, the 2011 Land Rover Range Rover has its act together, with a V-8 engine that will get you and your kids to the school drop-off lane faster than you can say, "spit spot."
The Range Rover HSE feels sturdy on the road, with little body roll at higher speeds. For such a large vehicle, it's easy to drive and responsive. One of its few shortcomings is its huge turning radius of 19.6 feet. This five-seat SUV has full-time four-wheel-drive, all-terrain Dynamic Stability Control and hill descent control. That's a lot of control. There's also Terrain Response system for driving on sand, snow or mud. A good nanny is prepared for anything.
It's also worth noting that every single child who entered the Range Rover (and I had many under age 10 in it during my test drive) would get in, sit down, buckle up, cross their legs and fold their hands in their laps. It was a miracle of miracles.
The 2011 Range Rover HSE, the base model, has a starting MSRP of $79,685. My test car cost a cool $88,485.
Like Mary Poppins' silhouette, the Range Rover is iconic. Land Rover has been mindful of that and hasn't messed with the SUV's exterior too much.
The Range Rover's sloped rear end has remained unchanged; leaving an old-school clamshell-type opening that can actually be used to tailgate. My family had fun using it for just that. The tailgate comes at a price, though. It's not power operated on the Range Rover HSE, which is a luxury that's hard to go without. However, the cargo area is plentiful.
Like any SUV, the Range Rover will have some pitfalls for parents of younger kids. You'll likely have to help them open doors because the handles are hard to pull. While it's terrific that the rear doors open wide, the downfall is it's difficult for kids to close the doors when inside the Range Rover. Even my 7-year-old had trouble. Younger kids will need help getting in and out of this SUV.
The Range Rover HSE has a 375-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. It gets an EPA-estimated 12/18 mpg city/highway and uses premium gas, making this an expensive nanny to feed.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Excellent
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On
Any good parent and nanny will remind you that it's what's on the inside that counts, and nothing lives that motto like the Range Rover HSE. As lovely as the outside is, it's the inside that dazzles. And yes, it's the interior that quiets even the craziest kid upon entry.
During my test drive, I had to shuttle a bunch of kids around over the weekend, and I had to make multiple trips because the Range Rover HSE only has two rows of seats. Unfortunately, a third row is not available in the Range Rover. The kids' ages ranged from 3 to 11, and every single one of them sat down and folded their hands in their laps upon getting settled in the Range Rover. They all had impeccable manners and in-car behavior while in the Rover.
What caused the kids to behave so well? It might have been the posh ivory-colored leather seats trimmed in navy blue piping or the calming powers of a matte-finish wood trim. It could have been the amazingly quiet ride. And no, I wasn't playing Mozart, Bach or Vivaldi. I was actually rocking out, trying way too hard to look cool. It also wasn't the rear entertainment system with screens built in to the front row's head restraints and a nifty touch-screen remote control because I didn't let the kids use it (I couldn't figure it out easily and I was on a tight schedule).
For me, the Range Rover was almost like a butler. It held my drink, and it offered me directions via the navigation system in a simple, easy manner. The navigation system was easy to use, and despite many buttons on the steering wheel, they were all clearly marked and efficient. Even though it was summer, I had to test the heated steering wheel, one of my favorite over-the-top luxury features. The driver's seat fit me well, was heated and cooled, and adjusted perfectly. The lumbar support was terrific, and I could put myself into perfect position to get a good view of the road.
In the backseat the kids liked that they got pampered, too. Their seats were heated and cooled, which they enjoyed now that they're in backless booster seats. They had cupholders in the folding armrest, which is also where the rear entertainment system's remote lived.
The entertainment system is one thing I'd fix in the Range Rover HSE. Remember back in the day, when CD changers had a cartridge and in that cartridge was a series of six plastic sleeves? The Rover had two of them, one for the CD player and one for the rear entertainment system. The rear entertainment system's unit was stowed in the cargo area. Imagine how easy it was for me to figure that one out. I don't like entertainment systems that require me to bust out the owner's manual.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Galore
The Land Rover Range Rover HSE has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the second row's outboard seats. The seat cushions sit too close to the anchors, making them somewhat difficult to use.
My kids' boosters fit just perfectly in the Range Rover. There's a ton of legroom in the backseat for both forward- or rear-facing child-safety seats. The wide backseat is a delight for parents whose kids need a little extra space so they can't reach each other too easily.
The Range Rover has standard four-wheel drive, antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system with antiroll control, traction control, the Terrain Response system, a backup camera with parking sensors and seven airbags, including side curtains for both rows and a driver's knee airbag.
Optional safety features include adaptive headlights and a blind spot monitoring system.
Starting MSRP $79,685–$95,465
510-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 (premium)
375-hp, 5.0-liter V-8 (premium)
6-speed automatic w/OD and auto-manual
New or Notable
• Seats five
• Standard full-time 4WD
• 375-hp or 510-hp V-8
• Standard navigation system
• Terrain Response system
What We Like
• Posh cabin materials
• Uncluttered styling
• Highway ride
• Acceleration (RR Supercharged)
• Automatic transmission's operation
• Off-road abilities
What We Don't
• High price
• Old-school tailgate
Photo Courtesy of Ian Merritt, Cars.com
Photo Courtesy of Ian Merritt, Cars.com