Capable as it may be, Land Rover's mission with the Range Rover is to also create an absolutely top-shelf luxury experience, something that's perhaps best illustrated here with the company's new long-wheelbase model. In previous generations, rear seat accommodations were always a sore spot, with compromised legroom and tricky ingress and egress.
By stretching the wheelbase by nearly eight inches, this longer Rangie now offers an additional 7.3 inches of legroom. And with a new executive rear seating package that replaces the traditional bench for a proper two-plus-two arrangement, the back seats now feature an additional 17 degrees of recline. It all comes at a price – roughly $146,000 as-tested – but combined with the more luxurious rear seat accommodations, that hefty price tag actually seems like sort of a bargain. Think about it: Sure, you can get a stretched S-Class or 7 Series for slightly less coin, but the Range Rover is far more capacious, functional, and has all that off-road prowess, to boot. Don't think of this thing as just a stretched Range Rover. Think of it as the most luxurious fullsize SUV you can buy today – and maybe tomorrow, too.
- Mechanically speaking, the long-wheelbase model doesn't shake up the Range Rover package too much. Nor does it from a design standpoint. Oh sure, you can really see that added length, especially in the profile view. But aside from that, the only added visual cues are small 'L' badges on the aluminum character line below the doors. The extended Range Rover is still handsome as ever, and the extra length doesn't make it look awkward, or too-long, like some stretched-wheelbase cars.
- Nothing is different under the hood, either, where Land Rover's 5.0-liter supercharged V8 still keeps things rockin' with 510 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque. Like the standard-wheelbase models, this power is all managed through a buttery-smooth eight-speed automatic transmission, and the same four-wheel drive and off-road capability is there.
- This powertrain still makes for a bloody quick Range Rover, especially considering its size and heft – the longer model adds some 287 pounds to the overall curb weight, tipping the scales at a healthy 5,137 pounds. That's a lot of weight, but it's still less than standard-wheelbase rivals (the Lexus LX 570 weighs a galling 6,000 pounds), and it remains a significant decrease from the outgoing model thanks to its new aluminum-intensive construction. And with that 5.0-liter supercharged heart pumping out the power, Land Rover estimates that its largest Range Rover will still sprint to 60 miles per hour in 5.1 seconds.
- On the road, the LWB model is every bit as good to drive as the standard configuration, though some full-size SUV attributes like a bit of vagueness in the steering, a fair amount of body roll, and noticeable front/rear pitch during takeoff and landing have been baked in (the latter being a longtime air-suspended Land Rover hallmark). Stretching the wheelbase does make the Range Rover a bit more compliant and limousine-like on the highway, with pavement irregularities being seemingly more smothered than before.
- Should you venture off road, the LWB Range Rover is nearly every bit as capable as its more compact (ha!) sister. All of the excellent off-road terrain management settings are there, and approach and departure angles haven't changed in stretching the wheelbase. The breakover angle has decreased slightly, however – 18.4 to 26.1 degrees (normal vs. off-road heights) in the LWB, compared to 20.1 to 28.3 degrees in the normal-wheelbase model.
- In all, there isn't a whole lot of difference from behind the wheel, but to critique the long-wheelbase Range Rover on its dynamics would be missing its point entirely. The big-ticket feature here, is what's in store for the folks you're chauffeuring around.
- We aren't exaggerating here when we say that the executive seating package on this Range Rover provides for one of the most luxurious and spacious rear compartments we've ever had the privilege of experiencing. There's headroom, knee room, legroom and shoulder room galore, with individually heated, cooled and massaging rear thrones. What's more, Land Rover offers individual rear seat entertainment systems, four-zone climate control and a massive panoramic sunroof. Combine those attributes with the SUV's stadium seating, and you've got all the makings of a truly first-class experience.
- Nothing in the class – no Mercedes-Benz, no BMW, no Lexus, no Audi – offers this sort of rear seat accommodation. Land Rover has created something that will likely rival – and perhaps, best – what Bentley is planning for its upcoming SUV, if not its Flying Spur.
- That isn't completely without fault, though our cabin complaints mostly concern the cockpit. We still don't love Land Rover's slow-to-respond touchscreen infotainment system, and some of the minor controls feel cheap considering how luxurious the rest of the interior is.
- Our tester's orange-tan leather may come across as a bit much for some eyes (these photos don't help), but it's all up to would-be owners how they spec their new ride. Land Rover offers a host of other interior color combos, and it doesn't change the fact that this cabin is otherwise top-notch as far as comfort and refinement goes.
- Of course, all this added goodness comes at a price. Long-wheelbase models start at $106,225, and can only be had with the 5.0-liter SC V8. From there, adding the Autobiography trim adds a hefty $36,800 to the bottom line, which allows you to select the executive rear seating pack, and adds a healthy upgrade of interior luxury and small upgrades to the exterior (unique 21-inch wheels, chrome-plated grille and more). Want something even more outrageous? Land Rover will sell you a limited-edition LWB Autobiography Black, for $185,000.
- You can scoff all you want at the $146,000 bottom line for this tester, but again, considering it will likely rival what Bentley offers with its SUV – a vehicle that should easily cost twice as much – in the right light, it's kind of a bargain. And with a powerful engine, genuine go-anywhere capability and serious street cred, what is perhaps the best fullsize SUV money can buy just got better. Who says size doesn't matter?