As Land Rover's top-of-the-line model, the Range Rover carries a premium price tag: The 2013 starts at $83,545 including an $895 destination charge, but the Supercharged model, which we tested, starts at $99,995 including destination. To see the Range Rover's specs compared with the Mercedes-Benz G-Class, Porsche Cayenne and Lexus LX 570, click here.
Despite being all-new, the Range Rover's styling doesn't veer far from the prior version. The classic proportions are familiar, and the SUV's appearance has a certain timelessness. When you look at a Range Rover — this one or any of its predecessors — you know what it is without needing to see a badge.
Land Rover has worked a number of aerodynamic improvements into the design to improve its efficiency. Both the grille and windshield are less upright, and the body narrows at the rear. Underbody panels are designed to smooth airflow below the vehicle. These changes and more result in a drag coefficient of .34. Land Rover says that's a 10 percent improvement over the prior Range Rover.
In Supercharged form, the Range Rover plays tricks with your mind; it's hard to get your head around how quickly and effortlessly this big SUV gains speed. It's unrelentingly ferocious, and Land Rover cites a zero-to-60-mph time of 5.1 seconds, which is 0.8 seconds quicker than the prior Supercharged version. Chalk another one up for lower vehicle weight. (The new Range Rover uses an all-aluminum unibody that shaves more than 700 pounds from the previous model's curb weight , which was around 5,700 to 5,900 pounds, depending on trim level.)
The supercharged 5.0-liter V-8's massive output — 510 horsepower and 461 pounds-feet of torque — is fully experienced on the highway. Pin the gas pedal to the floor when cruising at 50 mph and you'll hit 70 mph in just a few seconds.
Both the base normally aspirated V-8 and the supercharged V-8 team with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The transmission listens well, performing part-throttle kickdowns immediately. It also responds quickly when you floor the gas pedal, dropping a few gears before the SUV lunges forward and sends the front of the hood skyward as it squats on its rear wheels.
Fuel economy has improved, though the increase is more modest than the SUV's big weight loss might lead you to believe. Gas mileage is up just 1 to 2 mpg, depending on the model, with the most efficient version rated 14/20 mpg city/highway. During a 31-mile stretch of highway and suburban driving, I averaged 17 mpg, according to the trip computer (Supercharged versions get an EPA-estimated 13/19 mpg). Bigger gains should come in the 2014 model year, as Land Rover plans to downsize the SUV's base engine to a supercharged V-6 and debut auto stop/start technology.