2023 Range Rover Takes a Giant Step Forward

While navigating the new Range Rover on a wonderful variety of winding two-lane roads that weave through Northern California’s wine country and along its scenic Pacific coast, something unexpected happened several times. We’re not sure why, but every time we came across a slower car, they located a turnout and pulled out of the way within a few curves. This is never the case.

Our SUV wasn’t painted black and white with a light bar on top, and we weren’t tailgating or flashing our lights. Sure, the new Range Rover is easy to drive at a good pace, and there was a certain closing rate involved, but in our experience, the best response is to disregard the wants of those behind you and stay put until you’re ready— especially if you’re only holding up one vehicle.

2023 Range Rover Takes a Giant Step Forward

Perhaps they noticed the new Range Rover in the rearview mirror and wanted to take a look. That’s especially true when it’s parked because the new Range Rover’s flowing design exudes a simple beauty that contrasts sharply with some of the more gimmicky new vehicles of late. Although the proportions and roofline are clearly Range Rover, the execution is so precise that it appears to be a design study come to life. Smooth lines glide down its flanks, interrupted only by little curves and folds.

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Because this is a design that necessitates precision, a lot of time and work has gone into tightening flushness tolerances and narrowing panel gaps. The way the body sides slide through 90 degrees to meet the side glass with no chamfer, crease, or molding may be our favorite detail. We also appreciate how the taillights look to be black accents until they’re turned on, at which time they show their true colors. With a remarkable (for an SUV) 0.30 coefficient of drag, the entire design is as attractive to the air as it is to the eye.

2023 Land Rover Range Rover Takes a Giant Step Forward

The wheelbases of both the standard (SWB) and long-body (LWB) models have been lengthened by three inches, from 115.0 to 118.0 inches for the former and 122.9 to 125.9 inches for the latter. The SWB gains 1.1 inches of rear-seat legroom (1.2 inches for the LWB) and gains six cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row as a result. For the first time, the expanded LWB allows Land Rover to provide three rows of seating. However, the proportions remain recognizable thanks to shorter overhangs that keep the overall length increase to only 2.0 inches, and wider 32-inch tires that beautifully fill out the marginally expanded fender openings.

The rear suspension has been upgraded to a rear five-link configuration from an “integral link” multilink with a complicated lower arm. The advantages are two-fold and substantial. Due to the configuration, rear-wheel steering is now available, and this new feature (which is now standard) reduces the turning radius by about five feet despite the enlarged wheelbases. A new long-body Rover can hang a U-turn in just 37.9 feet, compared to 42.8 feet for the previous LWB model and 40.5 feet for the previous SWB model. A new SWB Range Rover can complete the task in 35.9 feet, barely 1.5 feet longer than a two-door Jeep Wrangler.

2023 Range Rover Takes a Giant Step Forward

The new multilink setup also takes up less inboard packaging space where the links attach, which is important because a transverse electric motor can be installed in a complete battery-electric (BEV) version. The extended wheelbase has an impact on the size of the crucial underfloor battery, but details on that will have to wait until later. We now know a little more about how this will influence the soon-to-be-released plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant, which will have a substantially larger 31.8-kWh battery, allowing for a projected EPA range rating of 48 miles rather than the nearly worthless 19 miles of the outgoing model.

Two gasoline engines are available until the plug-ins come. The P400 is a 3.0-liter inline-six that has been supercharged and turbocharged since last year. It produces 395 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, like previously. Even when driving the seven-passenger long-wheelbase SE, the combination is smart and smooth. The LWB will reach 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, according to Land Rover, which is faster than the preceding SWB model. Furthermore, EPA-estimated fuel efficiency has increased from 20 to 21 mpg combined (18 city/26 highway) thanks to a 3-mpg gain in highway fuel economy, which is largely due to the vehicle’s slick aerodynamics.

2023 Land Rover Range Rover

The P530 twin-turbo V-8 is a brand-new model developed by BMW and produced to Land Rover specifications. It produces 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque and uses an eight-speed automatic transmission to offer a seamless burst of energy. It has a 4.4-second 60-mph pace and an 8200-pound towing capacity, according to Land Rover. When you stand on the P530, it emits a smooth grumble that fades into the background as you approach cruising speed. A larger intake tract that allows 35.4 inches of water-fording depth and a rebuilt sump that won’t oil-starve the engine during extreme forward, rear, or sideways off-road driving angles are among the changes made for Range Rover duty.

Earth movement is constantly reshaping Northern California’s meandering two lanes, and the Range Rover handled them wonderfully. The short-wheelbase model’s air springs tended to float in Comfort mode, but in a deliberate, stately Range Rover style that could be firmed up by switching to Dynamic mode on the Bilstein adaptive dampers. In either case, body motions are significantly more regulated than before, especially in roll, where a new faster-acting active anti-roll-bar system can provide counteracting torque to flatten bends and then go appropriately limp on wavy straightaways to prevent head toss. The long-wheelbase seven-seater, in particular, tended to be a little less buoyant, possibly due to modifications in rear-suspension tuning required to accommodate seven occupants.

2023 Range Rover Takes a Giant Step Forward

The accommodations are as elegant on the inside as they are on the outside, with simple controls and attractive finishes. The infotainment system may have been the Achilles heel, but it could be a case of guilt by association because the menu flow seems identical to previous models we didn’t care for. To be fair, the tasks and camera views we did access through the touchscreen were carried out directly, but getting a greater sense of its user-friendliness will need more interactions and familiarity. We did try out the third-row seat, which is easy to get to thanks to a tip-forward second row that adjusts in such a way that many forward-facing kid seats or boosters can stay buckled in. If you’re six feet tall, headroom is limited, but there are cupholders, USB-C outlets, air-conditioning vents, and seat heaters in the back. This is an area where Land Rover excelled.

The SE is the entry-level model for 2023, though it rarely feels that way. The five-seat SWB P400 SE costs $102,350, while the long-wheelbase three-row P400 SE costs $108,350. In either case, upgrading to a P530 V-8 costs $17,700. While nothing is known about how the P440e plug-in hybrid will drive, we do know it will be a SE five-seater with a starting price of $106,250. In the meanwhile, the V-8 is standard on all three Autobiography variants, which range in price from mid-to-high-$150,000. Above that, the First Edition executive four-seaters are available, and if you want the ultimate chauffeured-limousine experience, you’ll have to pay $212,550 for a long-wheelbase four-seat SV.

That car, though, isn’t the one that most impresses us. Even at the SE level, with the base P400 powerplant, the new Range Rover’s brilliance and beauty are evident. That, together with the new three-row arrangement and helpful chassis improvements, is what elevates the Range Rover above the competition. They not only make it more livable on a daily basis, but they also pave the way for relevant plug-in variants in the near future. Get out of the way, because a Range Rover is approaching.

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