Check It Out If:
Price is no object.
Avoid It If:
You're unable to accept that independent suspension might actually work.
The Range Rover's welded steel chassis is much stiffer than that of the vehicle this new o
All hail...the king of SUVs?
"Anything short of a tank when it comes to security features and off-road capabilities isn't really amusing." It wasn't passed on exactly like that but you could sense it resonating in the tuneful British accent in which it was delivered. Add driving comfort, the sumptuous interior of a luxury sedan, throw in some blue-blooded prestige, and you get a premonition of Land Rover's latest product.
Despite its instant-recognition factor, this new Range Rover doesn't share a single body panel with its predecessor. Steady growth in body width (2.6 inches), length (9.3 inches), and height (1.8 inches) produce more interior space and a distinctive on-road presence right beside that of Sequoia or Escalade.
After spreading roughly $1.5 billion between R&D and a new production plant, Land Rover officials present this new Range Rover with a steel unitized body/chassis-they call it a monocoque structure-reinforced by three main subframes with longitudinal runners to protect drivetrain and suspension. Torsional stiffness and body flex are-according to Rover-four times stiffer than the old model. Related strongman features like snatch recovery capability and towing capacity are remarkable as well. The Range Rover's unitized body is so strong, according to officials, that you could hang it from its front tow hook, then hang two more Ranger Rovers from its rear tow hook without damage. While the ability to tow a 7,000-pound braked trailer meets fullsize SUV standards, a 12,000-pound snatch-recovery limit as well as serious winch recovery reserves and a lower tailgate strong enough to carry 660 pounds separate the chaff from the wheat.
Aluminum hood, doors, and front fenders save a good 110 pounds over steel parts, a small bite considering the vehicle's 5,374-pound unladen weight. Extensive measures in sound deadening and corrosion prevention close a triumphant longevity chapter, while six airbags and excellent crash-test results, as measured by British standards, create an atmosphere of security in the inviting interior. To invite the right people only, however, the new Range Rover is equipped with one of the most effective security systems on the market and-in case of Mafia pursuits-can lap the venerable and classic 14-mile German Nurburgring racetrack in 10 minutes, 5 seconds. About 7 minutes is what it would take a racing car to lap this classic track, so the Range Rover appears to have poise.
The Range Rover uses unusually long A-arms in its rear suspension. That fact, and its use
Modified, dignified, dubbed a knight
Here's one serious approach to the independent-suspension agenda: MacPherson air struts at the front and a double-wishbone arrangement at the rear allow huge improvements in total wheel travel (10.6 inches front, 13.0 inches rear, due to very long rear A-arms) and center ground clearance (up to 11 inches) thanks to independent suspension front and rear.
Air suspension enhances ride comfort over all terrain and surface conditions, enabling automatic self-leveling and compensating for heavy loads. But here's the best part: A refined Electronic Air Suspension (EAS) system features interconnected cross-linked valves on all wheels, allowing a stiffer spring rate for pavement and a softer spring rate for the rough road. On paved roads the valves are closed and the wheels ride on fixed air pressure, assuring less body roll and firm dampening characteristics. If the "Terrain Sensing" software in the RR's computer senses off-road activities, it opens the valves to support maximum articulation. Of critical importance here is the sense that this may be an IFS/IRS vehicle that actually articulates, thanks to those cross-linked valves. At speeds of 5 mph and less, when one wheel deflects, the air from its airbag is shunted into the airbag of the wheel on the opposite side, pushing that wheel down into the driving surface, mimicking the behavior and articulation of a solid axle. And it seems to work, judging from our very short introduction to the new Range Rover.
Finally, the EAS computer determines ride height according to speed and switch selection. There's a low step-in setting, an automatically selected highway setting, and a tall four-wheeling setting that can be chosen by turning a dash-mounted dial.
Even more sophisticated is the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), which combines four-wheel traction control, anti-lock brakes, Hill Descent Control, Electronic Breakforce Distribution, and Emergency Brake Assistance. Engaged, DSC detects wheel slip and reduces engine power to help regain traction.
Hill Descent Control uses ABS-controlled brake applications to limit downhill speed, providing brake bias to the downhill axle and individual brake pressure to each wheel as necessary. In low-range/low gear and Reverse, the maximum speed is limited to 2.5 mph, in Fourth and Fifth gear to 8 mph.
The Range Rover's BMW-sourced engine received a British massage to make it suitable for us
Holy Grail Revisited
Land Rover was part of the BMW group when work started on a luxury fullsize SUV, which it intended to position above BMW's X5. Not a big surprise then to find Beemer's workhorse, the widely acclaimed 4.4L (263.5ci) DOHC V-8, under the aluminum hood of the Range Rover. Smaller by 17ci than the solid but outdated pushrod 4.6L V-8 in the previous Range Rover, the new 32-valve four-camshaft unit boasts 10 percent more torque at 3,600 rpm (325 lb-ft) and 62 additional horses at 5,400 rpm. Part of the new stampede is dispatched to pull the 485-pound weight increase, diminishing actual performance gains from flamboyant expectations to a solid 9-second run from 0 to 60 mph.
Adaptations to the engine for use in this chassis include a higher air intake for water crossings, improved seals and pulley bearings, redesigned sump, and revised oil galleys, the latter because every Land Rover product should be capable of climbing a 45-degree gradient and of traversing ground at a side angle of 35 degrees, a company spokesman tells us. Obviously, proper lubrication is mandatory in these situations. In order to optimize the engine for on-road and off-road conditions electronics include two different throttle maps, with the throttle application becoming much more progressive when the T-case is shifted into low-range. Last but not least is the reworked cooling system, enabling the engine to cope with ambient temperatures of up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
Complementing the motor is a ZF five-speed automatic with CommandShift gear selection-this allows the driver to allow the trans to shift automatically, or to shift it manually. The chain-drive transfer case feeds torque to the axles via a Torsen differential. With a 2.7:1 drive ratio in low-range, the new Range Rover has the lowest gearing in its class. And finally, it's now possible to shift between low and high on the move up to 30 mph.
|Vehicle model ||2002 Range Rover |
|Estimated price ||$70,000 |
|Type ||DOHC BMW V-8 |
|Displacement (liter) ||4.4L |
|Aspiration ||EFI |
|Mfg's power rating @ rpm (hp) ||282 @ 5,400 |
|Mfg's torque rating @ rpm (lb-ft) ||325 @ 3,600 |
|Mfg's suggested fuel type ||Super unleaded |
|Transmission ||Five-speed BMW Steptronic automatic |
|Axle ratio ||3.73:1 |
|Transfer case ||Two-speed full-time four-wheel drive with Torsen diff and 2.71:1 low-range ratio |
|Frame ||Monocoque reinforced by three subframes with longitudinal runners |
|Body ||Welded steel and aluminum |
|Front ||Electronically controlled independent air suspension, cross-linked MacPherson struts |
|Rear ||Electronically controlled independent air suspension, cross-linked double A-arms |
|Front ||13.5-inch vented rotor |
|Rear ||13.9-inch solid rotor |
|ABS ||Bosch 5.3 |
|Wheels (in.) ||19x8 aluminum |
|Tires ||255/55R19 mud-and-snow |
|Curb weight (lbs.) ||5,374 |
|Wheelbase (in.) ||113.4 |
|Overall length (in.) ||194.9 |
|Overall width (in.) ||77.0 |
|Height (in.) ||73.3 without roof rack |
|Minimum ground clearance (in.) ||11.0 |
|Fuel capacity (gal.) ||26.0 |
|Seating ||5 |