The 2022 Land Rover Range Rover is, like its predecessors, a near-perfect blend of luxury, capability, technology, and grace. It is a superlative automobile, and while I respect people that spend six-figures on another premium product, I certainly don’t understand them. Because at the end of the day, there is nothing on the market that is as complete a package.
But in its fifth-generation, something curious is happening. While you can easily drop $260,000 on a Range Rover SV, you don’t need to. The base Range Rover SE has a cabin that’s nearly as stunning and luxurious, refinement that’s all-encompassing, and a driver experience that’s almost as dynamic for less than half the price. Whichever trim you order, rest easy knowing the fifth-generation Range Rover remains a pinnacle of automotive luxury. But the smart money? It’s shopping for the SE.
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Gallery: 2022 Land Rover Range Rover: First Drive
Home In The Range
For 2022, Land Rover will continue to offer the Range Rover in both short- and long-wheelbase varieties with the option of a two-row, five-passenger arrangement or a plusher two-plus-two setup. But the star will be the new seven-seat model. Available exclusively with the longer 126.0-inch wheelbase (8.0 inches more than the SWB) the $6,000 third-row bench option is worthy of the Range Rover’s luxury icon status.
Access comes via standard powered switches on the upper door jams of either rear door. A quick tap slides both the first and second rows forward, and tips the latter up, opening a generous aperture. Taller adults will find the rear bench cozy rather than oppressive – I’m six-foot-two and my head was brushing the headliner while my knees were a bit tight with 34.0 inches of leg space, which is down 0.6 on the Mercedes GLS and up about the same on the BMW X7. Toting six other tall humans, will require some give and take between the second- and third-row passengers. But for shorter adults or kids, the space on hand is generous and usable.
It’s little surprise the entire Range Rover family is so well contented, but the new third row exceeds the competition with standard heating. BMW and Mercedes don’t even offer that as an option. Dedicated climate vents live near the outboard armrests, which is also home to a pair of smallish (by American standards) cupholders and a USB-C outlet per side.
Curiously, Land Rover isn’t offering the Range Rover in a six-passenger variant. But there’s no shortage of flexibility thanks to the two wheelbase options. There’s little change in the second row when choosing between the SWB five-seat layout and the LWB seven-passenger arrangement, but the availability of the two-row setup and the longer wheelbase creates one of the roomiest passenger areas on the market.
The Range Rover’s advantage over both conventional competitors and alternative rivals, including the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, ranges from 4.0 to 10.0 inches. The bench itself is a comfortable and supportive partner on long drives regardless of wheelbase, but the available four-seat Range Rover SV takes all that space and matches it with first-class luxury.
The Luxury Of Luxury
A pop-out ottoman, standard massage settings, a champagne cooler, and a power-retractable center table, available with either a wood veneer or a leather top, set the four-seat Range Rover apart. A cute pillow sits in each rear seat, but I quickly discarded mine – the pillow was just a bit too firm, which is arguably one of the most absurd complaints I’ve ever made about a car. The entire setup is quite dear, too, demanding $20,000 on a trim that starts at $218,300, but there’s plenty of room to stretch out, with the footrest and reclining seat accommodating my lanky form and SV-specific seat padding providing huge amounts of support.
A short highway-heavy from San Francisco International to a hotel in the heart of the city trip served not only as a primer in all things SV but was my first taste of the new Range Rover in motion. The cabin is tomb-like, right up until an expansion joint caused an annoying slap from the 23-inch wheels and 285/40 tires fitted to every vehicle at the program.
Tire noise was a recurring annoyance, and I’m eager to test a Range Rover with 21- or 22-inch alloys to see if the problem remains. The slap also detracts from the Range Rover’s excellent control of wind noise. During a drive along the blustery coastal roads north of San Fran, the breeze coming off the water was irrelevant.
That’s partially down to the (relatively speaking) impressive aerodynamics. Designers aimed to make shut lines as flush as possible, and the Range Rover’s overall shape cuts through the air better than before, resulting in a drag coefficient of 0.30. For comparison, the sleek, low-riding Jaguar I-Pace’s CoD is 0.29. The new MLA-Flex architecture aids the quiet cabin, too, with a claimed “24-percent improvement in noise transmission.” I know, that’s a meaningless stat, but here’s the bottom line: this is far and away the quietest Range Rover ever.
But mechanical and assembly tweaks tell only part of the story. Land Rover went a bit mad with the optional Meridian Signature system, scattering 35 speakers throughout the cabin, but I want to pay special tribute to the dual 2.4-inchers embedded in the front four headrests. They take the usual active noise cancellation technology and create “quiet zones” for the front and outboard second-row seats. It’s uncanny, especially at low speeds or in park. The Range Rover shuts out the whole big, bad world, which is the highest praise I can render to a luxury vehicle.
That extends to the suspension. Every Range Rover comes standard with air springs and a Land Rover–first five-link rear end as part of the fully independent suspension. The on-board computers also draw on navigation data to help prepare for upcoming bumps and imperfections. Of course, that’s not all – the base SE is available with a $5,250 Advanced Off-Road Capability Pack (standard on all other trims), which introduces “Dynamic Response Pro,” or what normal folk call electronic active anti-roll control. Finally, the entire lineup includes standard four-wheel steering.
Combined, the Range Rover exhibits an imperturbable ride. On the underwhelming off-road sections Land Rover set up, washboards had little impact on the body motions or the overall sense of stability in the steering. And on the few rough roads around Napa and along the PCH, the Range Rover dispatched bumps and ripples in the pavement with a simple, minimal “thunk” from the sizable wheel/tire package.
A plug-in hybrid engine will arrive soon leading to a further reduction in NVH, but for now, the two available gas engines are no slouches on that front. The star is the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six and its 48-volt mild-hybrid system, which is surprising because this engine has never stood out for its refinement in JLR’s other products (it also serves in the Range Rover Velar and Sport, the Discovery, and the Jaguar F-Pace). Under gentle acceleration, the six-pot is imperceptible. In fact, it’s not until the tachometer climbs past 3,500 rpm that the smooth, pleasant soundtrack comes into play.
The new BMW-sourced twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8, shared with the gas-powered 50i models in the BMW family, is more of a mixed bag. The engine sounds fantastic, with less of the bassy bellow under heavy throttle than in a German-badged car. At gentler speeds, though, it’s noticeably more intrusive, with the active noise cancellation and sound deadening struggling to mute the V8’s deeper, richer noises.
Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Performance On Over
Of course, sometimes it’s fun punching the throttle and going fast. For that, the Range Rover’s new engine is tough to beat. I’ll miss the old supercharged 5.0-liter V8, with its 557 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, but the new 4.4-liter packs 523 hp and more importantly, 553 lb-ft of torque. That may seem like a modest flip-flop of output figures, but the new Range Rover delivers maximum twist between 1,800 and 4,600 rpm, which is both more substantial and earlier than the 5.0-liter (3,500 to 5,000 rpm).
Yesteryear’s Range Rover took 5.1 seconds even in the sporty SVAutobiography trim. In the short-wheelbase model, the new Range Rover sprints to 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds (add a tenth for the LWB and another tenth still for the seven-seater). That’s handily quicker than the GLS (mainly because Mercedes isn’t selling the V8-powered 580 this year) while the X5 M50i takes a leisurely 5.2 seconds with the same 4.4-liter engine.
The V8-powered Range Rover explodes off the line, with strong low-end grunt and relentless pace as the tachometer climbs. Highway speeds arrive quickly, and extra-legal speeds come soon after. On the winding roads along the California coast, the Range Rover proved so powerful that the flashing of the stability control light met each squeeze of the throttle as the computers tried to rein in the V8 engine. I never felt a wheel slip and the rush of performance still came quick enough that the computers couldn’t ruin the fun, but it’s a testament to the V8’s thrust that the nannies had to get involved at all.
There is a performance sacrifice in switching to the six-cylinder, of course, but it’s a worthwhile trade considering the improved refinement. Unlike the V8, this isn’t a new option for the Range Rover – the 395 hp and 406 lb-ft matches last year’s Range Rover P400, but the run to 60 falls from 5.9 seconds to 5.5 seconds. At the same time, Land Rover is broadening the I6’s availability by offering it on the seven-seat model. With the weightiest body/seat option, the base engine is still a tenth quicker than in last year’s model.
This might be controversial, but I prefer the power delivery of the base engine. Like the V8, there’s an impressive torque band, with the peak spanning from 2,000 to 5,000 rpm. But it’s the electric assistance from the mild-hybrid system that stands out, helping the base engine feel nearly as sprightly off the line as the V8. At the same time, the straight-six engine revs freely and makes some great noises along the way. Don’t get wrapped up in V8 grunt. This engine is a star in its own right.
Both engines match up to a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic. Switch the Terrain Response knob over to Dynamic and set the transmission to manual, and the Range Rover feels a bit like a 5,600-pound Volkswagen GTI, blasting downshifts on corner entry only to add gears back with haste while accelerating out. It’s a clever gearbox in full auto, too, holding gears as needed. I do wish the computer downshifted more aggressively while decelerating for corners, though.
That’s mainly because of the speed the Range Rover can carry into corners. This is an ultra-capable off-road luxury SUV. Using it to attack a coast road should be like trying to eat soup with a fork, but with four-wheel steering, active anti-roll bars, a beautifully tuned suspension, and a new-for-2022 architecture that’s 50 percent stiffer than before, the Range Rover excels.
It has an excellent handle on body motions, especially on long, sweeping bends. The Range Rover is effortlessly poised, with deliberate, predictable roll and light, linear steering that’s easy to adjust mid corner. On tighter bends, the Range Rover’s mass and tendency to understeer require more judicious behavior, but there’s no arguing that this SUV is dramatically more agile than ever before.
For now, I’ll simply say that the latest Range Rover is the best, most complete vehicle I’ve driven so far in 2022.
The suspension will manage rocky and rough trails… in theory. But Land Rover’s off-road testing for this program was unusually underwhelming, offering few real chances to test this new SUV’s prowess. With active locking differentials, a host of useful drive modes, and the low-speed agility afforded by four-wheel steering, all signs point to this being a solid ally on the trail. Until I can try one on my own terms, though, the new Range Rover’s off-road talents are more question mark than hallmark.
Above And Beyond, Indeed
The rest of the Range Rover’s new features are familiar from other models. The latest Pivi Pro infotainment system is quick and easy to learn, relying on simple reconfigurable tiles for most major functions. It lives on a beautiful 13.1-inch curved display. There’s an attractive new 13.7-inch digital cluster that’s perched above the steering column rather than seemingly attached to it. And of course, the cabin’s fit and finish are beyond reproach. I can’t wait to explore all these things in a more detailed review.
For now, I’ll simply say that the latest Range Rover is the best, most complete vehicle I’ve driven so far in 2022. And as I said at the beginning, the best is the base. With prices starting at $104,500 for the short-wheelbase 2023 SE – I drove 2022 model year vehicles, but Land Rover has closed orders and moved on to 2023 – and extending up to $218,300, it’s very easy to drop huge money on a Range Rover.
But almost all of what makes the Range Rover great is available on the SE trim without going wild on the options sheet. After playing with the configurator, I figure it’d take no more than $122,000 to build a Range Rover SE with virtually the same luxury, equipment, driving dynamics, and style – active anti-roll bars, 23-inch wheels, semi-aniline leather upholstery, massaging front seats – to a $157,600 Autobiography. So, save some money and buy a Range Rover. I promise, it won’t disappoint.
Range Rover Competitor Reviews:
- BMW X7: Not Rated
- Lexus LX: 9.1 / 10
- Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class: Not Rated
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