We test-drive the ’23 New Range Rover, a masterpiece of artwork and engineering, and a significant upgrade of the original SUV, complete with the torque, intelligence and control to take on traffic, travel and trails in sheer luxury and style.
The roads curving through the hills around Sonoma County, CA, were filled with nearly 80 Range Rovers as part of Land Rover’s recent weeklong media drive event. After five years of dedicated development that was delayed due to COVID-19, the “New Range Rover” generation is a step above previous ones, providing a superb driving experience in every way.
Easily recognizable as a Land Rover, first impressions of the Range Rover SE start with the sleek, clean lines of the exterior, flowing to the understated elegance and comfort of the cabin. Subtle colors and clean lines of the interior design are easy on the eyes. Roomy seats provide a feeling of spaciousness and sturdiness, as does the vehicle itself.
Speakers in the headrests cancel road noise, providing an exceptionally quiet ride. According to Peter Bingham, Architecture Chief Engineer for the New Range Rover line, “It is quieter than a Rolls-Royce.” My riding partner confirms this, having recently ridden in a new Rolls in London.
Jaguar Land Rover
Noise cancellation is not the only improvement. The New Range Rovers are based on a brand-new architecture that is stronger and lighter, with rubber bushings that isolate the chassis from the body, and is 30% more rigid than previous Range Rovers. This new MLA Flex (multi-longitudinal architecture) structure incorporates three types of metal, taking advantage of the unique strengths and properties of each.
This, plus the active suspension, results in dramatically reduced road vibration and less impact from road bumps, further reducing the noise level to ensure a peaceful, dignified ride, isolated from the road and the outside world.
Jaguar Land Rover
The New Range Rover encompasses four models, three sizes and several trim levels. We first drive the SE standard-wheelbase version with a 523 hp, 4.4L V-8. This $122,800 SUV has power to spare and is fairly nimble for a vehicle that weighs 5,530 lbs. (2,508 kg) thanks to 4-wheel steering, 48V active anti-sway bars and live damping of roll and road shocks. With the standard 4-wheel steering, the rear wheels can turn up to 7.3 degrees, providing a turning circle of 35.9 feet (10.9 m) for the SWB models.
Next, we drive the 395-hp SE version with 3.0L inline 6-cyl. priced at $104,500. This entry-level model weighs 5,240 lbs. (2,377 kg) with a top speed of 150 mph (242 km/h), only 5 mph (8 km/h) lower than the midlevel V-8 models. It still has plenty of power, accelerating from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.5 seconds, only 1.1 seconds slower than the high-end 4.4L versions.
On the last day, we drive the high-end long-wheelbase SV model which boasts a 523-hp, 4.4L turbocharged V-8 providing a maximum speed of 162 mph (261 km/h) and weighing in at 5,840 lbs. (2,649 kg). Every aspect of this $218,300 SUV speaks sumptuous luxury, refined style, maximum comfort and plentiful power with space for up to five passengers.
The SV we drive is clad in icy white paint, a $12,050 option with a satin finish. Bronze accents come with the SV Serenity Exterior package, providing a posh look that reflects the price tag. A black contrast roof option creates the impression of a glass roof spanning the vehicle.
The moment you open the door of the SV you can see the difference from lower-priced models. Sumptuous, cream-colored carpet and accents create a rich, spacious look along with white seats and trim. Bright white ceramic knobs for shifter, climate controls and armrests are a unique addition to this top-end series, and complement the real wood veneer in the center consoles and door panels.
The second row sports a table that, with a touch of an icon, rises and can be unfolded. Behind this is, according to Bingham, possibly the world’s first cupholder that slides upward via a cam at the touch of an icon on the screen in the center console between the seats. Just above the hidden cupholder, nestled between the seat backs is what Bingham calls “the coldest refrigerator in an SUV to date.” Just right for chilling drinks for an evening out or a day trip to the beach.
Interior and HMI
The 13.1-in. (33.3-cm) center touchscreen found in all models provides an interface that is clean and uncluttered, while affording easy access to top-level menus via a column of icons on each side of the crisp, slightly curved display. The curve is designed to reduce glare and is quite effective. The new haptic feedback is a nice touch that provides a positive confirmation for each command.
The ’23 models include Amazon’s Alexa voice control system to reduce the need to remember menu paths on the display, and can be activated by saying “Alexa” or pressing the Alexa icon on the touchscreen. The system includes a number of commands for interacting with the Range Rover and can connect with an Alexa unit in the home to perform smart home functions while on the road.
Alexa also provides wireless support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that can operate without a phone or mobile smart device. It uses the customer’s Amazon account and internet connection to operate. There also is wireless charging for Qi-compatible smartphones to keep their batteries topped up.
All three models we drive include Land Rover’s InControl driver assistance features. The configurable ADAS packages include adaptive cruise control, emergency braking, lane keep assist, blindspot assist, traffic sign recognition with adaptive speed limiter, driver condition monitoring, rear collision monitor, front and rear parking aid, rear traffic monitor and a monitor that lets you know when it is clear to exit from parking spaces.
Jaguar Land Rover
The adaptive cruise control works quite well. Acceleration and braking are smooth and reliable. Lane-keeping assist is one of the best I’ve tried so far, but like other carmakers’ systems, still sometimes gets confused by entrance ramps, center left turn lanes and patches of unmarked roads.
An optional 3D surround camera provides an excellent high-definition, low-distortion birds-eye view. For off-roading, there are three cameras that provide a view of the trail ahead at the touch of an icon. A camera on each side shows a forward-facing view of the front tires and their immediate surroundings. This helps on tight trails to avoid scratching that $12,050 satin finish paint. A central camera provides a downward view of the trail ahead, especially handy when you are rounding the crest of a hill.
The New Range Rovers use EVA 2.0, the automaker’s second-generation electronic vehicle architecture. This is still a distributed system that includes up to 69 ECU modules that can be updated OTA. When asked about the plan for a centralized architecture for future ADAS and autonomous systems, Bingham refers to Jaguar Land Rover’s recent announcement with NVIDIA to use NVIDIA DRIVE and AI systems in the company’s vehicles.
Jaguar Land Rover
Starting in 2025, all new Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles will be built based on the NVIDIA Drive software-defined platform to deliver advanced driver assistance, safety features, parking assist and automated driving systems. The full-stack solution will be based on the NVIDIA DRIVE Hyperion system with Orin central computers, networking and surround sensors.
View more photos in the 2023 Range Rover gallery.