How on earth does Land Rover manage to make a square, boxy vehicle look so damn good? I suppose it's all down to years of experience because, in 2022, they've managed to produce yet another one. Yep, the latest uber-luxury incarnation of the iconic Range Rover is proving to be another triumph of design; a clean-lined, chisel-chinned Adonis. Time after time, generation after generation Land Rover manages something that no other manufacturer can achieve by making what is effectively a huge, slab-sided, square box look new, fresh, cutting edge and somehow even beautiful.
Of course, this is just a personal opinion but, still, I reckon that most other SUV manufacturers can't quite seem to encompass beauty and functionality with Range Rover's time-honed aplomb. Other manufacturers currently seem to be sold on the notion of bolting their massive brand-specific radiator grilles (and logos) onto the front end of their SUV offerings and then building around them. However, these wannabe Range Rover 'alternatives' seem to fall some way short of creating outward designs that look particularly exciting or even all that pretty. Even Bentley's Bentayga (SUV) outwardly looks like a blinged-up VW Tuareg whilst (it has been written) a Rolls-Royce Cullinan manages to come over all "London taxi" - albeit one with a pretty decent paint job. Seems to me that it's only the chaps at Range Rover who've mastered the art of producing big SUVs that have that unique blend of utmost automotive dignity, road presence and a desirability that trumps all the others. It’s quite simply a stroke of genius!
These days, SUV ownership is probably not the best way to win friends and influence people. However, some Range Rover models are kitted out with a built-in appeasement setting. This means that those who are concerned about the environment react more positively to your 'offensive' Range Rover because it’s a loud and proud hybrid that actually works (well, of sorts). It returns just over 2 miles per kWh which is hardly the personification of efficiency? But hey-ho, it's not using any fuel in urban settings and that’s what (understandably) seems to matter to a lot of people these days. However, it might be advisable to get your Range Rover's rear windows tinted so you don't show off how 'capitalist' your precious cargo might appear whilst being wafted around in such palatial splendour. These cars definitely ooze exclusivity.
Another question that has to be asked is whether the new Range Rover is the world’s most luxurious 4x4? Given the way the market is going SUV-mad, does this potentially give Range Rover the opportunity to stand out as being the world’s most luxurious car - full stop? After all, saloons seem to have had their day? Even the likes of the Mercedes S-Class or the BMW 7-Series are all a bit 'chauffeur' orientated (the executive express). But a Range Rover is different, if you can avoid the Just Stop Oil brigade, this is a car you can be happy to drive yourself. A car that can take you on adventures as well as to your business meetings. A car that's as happy in a field as it might be parked up outside the Savoy. It handles cows and the concierge with equal prowess.
It's easy to get bogged down by the politics of SUV ownership. But let's pause and simply look at all the luxury on offer. The front seats alone can be adjusted 24-ways and if you spend an extra couple of grand, they can blow hot or cold air as well as give you a massage. To keep the rear passengers happy, another £3700 affords rear seat entertainment. £480 even gets you a fridge. If you just throw caution to the wind and go for the 'Autobiography' specification (and not bother faffing around with tiresome options lists) all these trinkets come in an all-inclusive package deal. It's all available for £140,000 of your pounds. A bit dearer than Benidorm's all-inclusives but this, quite frankly, is more Savoy than Solanna.
Now. How about taking an eye-wateringly precious car and venturing off-road? Land Rovers are, of course, well known to be the world's most formidable mud pluggers. The addition of cream leather, plush carpets and a home entertainment suite for rear passengers hasn't changed that core Land Rover ethos one bit. I've been lucky enough to have done a few "Land Rover Experience" days where owners are invited to see what these vehicles are really capable of. With expert guidance from Land Rover's dedicated team of instructors, both drivers and vehicles alike tackle a whole host of surfaces and obstacles using Land Rover's legendary off-road technological capabilities along the way. It's quite a surreal experience to be instructed to plunge such eye-wateringly expensive cars into deep muddy quagmires in the middle of a forest or to traverse insanely deep ditches that would not only bog down any ordinary car but potentially wreck them completely. How about climbing an impossibly steep gradient and stalling halfway up? No problem! Just do as our Land Rover instructors tell us and we'll all be home in time for tea.
After a day's off-roading with all that expert Land Rover tuition, a swift run across a couple of local by-ways will prove to be a cinch. A Range Rover's lofty driving position will simply provide their lucky occupants with a leather-clad look-out post, complete with an extraordinarily commanding view of the road. This is luxury with a truly imperious twist.
One of Range Rover's enduring traits definitely remains to the present day. That is, it's still very expensive to buy and still very expensive to run. Even the smallest diesel variant has six hungry cylinders to feed and the car weighs in at well over two tonnes. Range Rovers are also very complex cars with cutting-edge four-wheel drive as well as four-wheel steer systems that can and do go wrong. Given Land Rover's somewhat dubious reliability record, it's wise to prepare for a few gremlins along the way.
The new Range Rover is up against Bentley's Bentayga, the Volvo XC90, the BMW X7 and the Mercedes-Benz GLS. Of course, none of these will be any more lenient on your wallet. At least Land Rover have worked on reducing weight and improving fuel economy with their most frugal engine returning 30mpg at a push.
At the end of the day, value for money is different from “cheap” so I will end the same way as I started - with a question. That is, is the Range Rover worth the eye-wateringly high costs? I guess that's down to individual buyers. Those who can afford the hefty price tags and are impressed by good old-fashioned British craftsmanship along with huge dollops of unapologetic luxury will probably find it very appealing indeed.
Douglas Hughes is a UK-based writer producing general interest articles ranging from travel pieces to classic motoring.