Range Rover offers unheard-of luxury, with extras that will gobsmack you

Range Rover offers unheard-of luxury, with extras that will gobsmack you

CASEY WILLIAMS  | Auto Reviewer

You were probably, just this morning, standing in the driveway trying to decide if you’ll buy a Bentley Continental GT or a Cadillac Escalade. I feel you. Should you get that exquisitely-crafted and satisfyingly fast coupe or the all-road, all-capable, supremely comfortable SUV? Well, I’m here to solve your dilemma. Throttle the Range Rover Sport SVR.

Screen shot 2016-03-10 at 11.51.28 AMHow Land Rover turned its image for building hard-core luxury trucks (renowned for their off-road capability and favorites of British royalty) into high-performance street cars modified by its in-house tuner is astonishing. But it works, and hail the product planners who had the vision. It turns out the 45-year-old Range Rover design looks great chopped, lowered and streamlined — especially painted Estoril Blue with blacked-out trim and 21-in. alloys. Blue Brembo brake calipers lend a certain flair. And yet you know what it is instantly.

This blend of sport, luxury and capability continues inside where our Autobiography edition welcomed four lucky passengers with individual wrap-around seats — heated/ventilated in front. As in all Range Rovers, you sit up high as if surveying your country estate — or in the SVR’s case, your weekend track club. You’ll miss nothing from your ex-Bentley when you peer at the carbon fiber veneer on the console, dash and doors. A heated steering wheel, electrically-heated windscreen, panoramic sunroof and 1700-watt Meridian audio system soothe any journey. Adaptive cruise and blind spot warnings make them safer.

At the heart of this debauched carriage is a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 that dispenses an amazing 510 horses and 461 lb.-ft. of torque through a paddle-shifted 8-speed automatic transmission. Tap into the throttle as cherubs sing and devils dance. It’s that kind of power. Nearly pointless start/stop technology pauses the engine at rest to help deliver 16/19-MPG city/hwy. Even with an aluminum chassis, doors, fenders and hood, it’s a heavy truck that gets shoved through the air with a bunch of gas. You pay for the privilege.

You may worship at the engine’s altar, but you’ll tithe for the chassis and all-wheel-drive system. The air suspension tames fast freeways and rough city pavement, but can also be height-adjusted for access, standard driving, off-road or extended height for fording the occasional stream. Of course, you might want to kick off the performance tread if that’s your endeavor — all the better for exercising the Terrain Response System that adjusts the chassis and powertrain for general, snow, mud, sand or rocks. While fiddling on the console with the suspension and terrain mods, look for the button with twin exhausts on it. Press it whenever you want a delicious dose of exhaust rumble, preferably not when leaving the ’burbs pre-dawn.

Having a vehicle that gives up little to a top-grade luxury coupe or fully-capable SUV comes with an equally impressive price tag. While you can buy a Range Rover Sport for $64,950 and an SVR for $79,995, our princely version came to $126,360 — just slightly closer in price to the Escalade than Continental. If that price leaves you unbothered, go forth and enjoy like nobody’s business.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2016.