Wheeling The 2011 Land Rover Range Rover and LR4 in the Colorado high country
We weren't surprised when Land Rover chose Telluride, Colorado, as the location to introduce the 2011 Range Rover and LR4 to the media. After all, Telluride is an affluent mountain town located 8,750 feet above sea level, where luxury SUVs are a standard part of the lofty landscape. Our accommodations were 795 feet above Telluride in Mountain Village, where well-heeled residents tip their glasses in luxury homes and condos as they gaze over the majestic San Juan Mountains.
Land Rover had other ideas for us, though. You see, Telluride is a fascinating study in contrasts and it's surrounded by some of the best wheeling trails in the continental United States. Black Bear Road, Imogene Pass, and Ophir Pass are some of the incredible trails in the immediate area, and that's why Land Rover brought us there. Over two days we spent very little time on the paved road, or in the solvency of Telluride. Instead, we wheeled Land Rover's newest SUVs over high mountain trails, and we never descended below 7,800 feet in altitude.
On day one, we wheeled Land Rover's flagship SUV from Telluride through the abandoned old mining town of Tomboy in Savage Basin (elevation 11,500 feet). We then continued over Imogene Pass (elevation 13,114 feet), eventually arriving to spend the night in the town of Ouray (elevation 7,811 feet). We began the drive as a passenger which was a good way to start because it gave us an opportunity to inspect the interior, which was loaded with a truly mind-boggling number of luxo standard features including a wood-trimmed dash fascia and doors, as well as heated leather seating for front and rear passengers. As we lounged in the rear seat (which is now available with a reclining feature for 2011), we had to admit that the interior of the Range Rover is truly a thing of beauty and it's clearly designed to impress even the most discriminating owner. We were also impressed at the vault-like solidness of the Range Rover as we traveled over the trail. No rattles, squeaks, or suspension noises from this machine.
Speaking of the suspension, it's comprised of an IFS/IRS arrangement with electronic air adjustment. It has automatic load leveling, and multiple modes including; access, standard, off-road, and extended height. The off-road mode contributes to an impressive 11.1 inches of ground clearance. At the old town of Tomboy, we took the wheel and pointed the Range Rover toward Imogene Pass. The first thing we noticed is that the solid feel we experienced in the seat of our pants while riding in the back seat carried over into our hands as we grasped the leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel that is festooned with multi-function controls. Even while climbing loose shale, the Range Rover's solidness is obvious. And speaking of climbing, the Range Rover's Terrain Response system is enhanced for 2011 and includes Gradient Acceleration Control and Hill Start Assist. Quite simply, we just selected the appropriate terrain setting and let the computer work its magic. It was that simple, and it translated to amazing surefootedness. Also notable from the driver chair is the Range Rovers incredible 12.3-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) virtual instrument panel. We've been known to roll our eyes at tech like this, but wow, it's amazingly bright, colorful, and loaded with features. Finally, even as we climbed through 13,000 feet in elevation, the Range Rover's 5.0L V-8 engine, which makes 375 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque, provided enough punch to carry the 5,697-pound rig and its passengers without a problem, and the six-speed CommandShift transmission functioned seamlessly with the V-8.