Even in the face of an overall market for SUVs that's seen demand fall by over 50% over the last year alone, Land Rover's top-level Range Rover is keeping the British/Indian automaker afloat. Sales of the Range Rover – which boasts a starting price of $78,525 – are down only 17.8-percent for the first two months of the year. It's the smaller LR3 (down 28%) and entry-level LR2 (down a whopping 57%) that are dragging the automaker's overall sales figures (down 36.6%) into the mud.

Given its importance to the brand, word that an updated Range Rover is expected at next week's New York Auto Show is big news. Spy shots of the new Rover indicate that exterior changes won't be terribly dramatic for the model that was launched way back in 2002, but there should be big news under the hood, where we expect Jaguar's 5.0-liter all-aluminum V8 engine to take up residence.

Given how well the Range Rover name resonates with 4x4 buyers, it's not surprising to hear that the British company may badge its upcoming production version of the LRX concept (which debuted at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show) as a Range Rover. Like the concept upon which it's based, the new model will be a coupe-like take on the automaker's well-defined SUV theme. However, given the frequency with which consumers already often interchange "Land Rover" (the brand) and "Range Rover" (the model) – not to mention "Range Rover Sport" (the model) – this arrangement sounds potentially confusing. Further, given the LRX's more road-oriented mission, one has to wonder if branding the LRX as a "Range Rover" will serve to dilut the range-topping vehicle's hard-earned off-road equity...


Related GalleryLand Rover LRX Concept

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd | Image: Auto Express]