Sunday, February 6, 2011

Range Rover And Land Rover

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The Land Rover Range Rover is a five-passenger sport-utility vehicle, built in England and one of the most storied SUVs of all time. It's a regular member of the fleet in the Royal Family's garage--and it's a status symbol for drivers around the world who appreciate its finery as much as its off-road expertise. It competes with vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, the Lexus LX, and the Cadillac Escalade.

Though it's been in production since 1970, the Range Rover has only been built in three distinct generations, all defined by some common traits. Since 1970, the Range Rover has been built on a frame with aluminum body panels. It evolved over its early life from a utilitarian vehicle into a more luxurious sport-ute that went on sale in the U.S. in 1986, by the automaker's American arm, Range Rover North America. The "classic" Range Rover had other American ties; its V-8 engine had been developed from an engine sold by Buick for decades. By the time it arrived in the U.S., the Range Rover used a 3.5-liter version of the V-8. By the mid-1990s it had grown in displacement to 4.3 liters, and the SUV itself had gained a long-wheelbase edition.

In 1990, BMW acquired what had become the Land Rover brand. A new Range Rover was developed and introduced in the 1995 model year. The Buick-derived V-8 carried over in the second-generation SUV, while other markets also had diesel engine options. A BMW-derived 4.4-liter V-8 was introduced during this generation. Self-leveling air shocks and sophisticated off-road mechanicals were standard on American versions, as were an automatic transmission and anti-lock brakes. Of all the criticism lobbed at this Range Rover--reliability chief among them--the almost plain exterior shape visually conveyed how the times had changed at Land Rover.

In 1999, Land Rover changed hands again. BMW sold the brand to Ford, and delivered a nearly-completed third generation of the Range Rover. The new vehicle emerged as a 2003 model, with a more expressive style, even more technology under its sheetmetal, and the existing BMW-derived powertrain installed. The Range Rover now was a unibody vehicle, and an air suspension interlinked with electronic controls for braking gave it even more on-road prowess. Passenger space was improved, and build quality was Land Rover's best-ever: the new Range Rover's interior wore especially striking blends of vertical bands of wood trim and leather. Reaching even further upmarket, the Range Rover came to the U.S. fully equipped with standard navigation system, rearview camera, sunroof and leather upholstery.

During this generation, Ford worked with its other British acquisition, Jaguar, to build common V-8 engines for both brands. The new engines emerged in the 2006 model year: a 4.4-liter V-8 produced 305 horsepower, and a supercharged version of the engine put out 400 hp. The accompanying facelift brought some interior refinements to the Range Rover, including a new LCD screen that controlled the vehicle's navigation, audio, and climate controls.

In its latest model year, the Range Rover has received its most substantial changes since 2003. Subtle changes to the headlights, grille, and bumper mark the exterior, but inside, the SUV gets a finer interior with a much larger LCD screen. The powertrains are upsized for more performance: a new 5.0-liter V-8 shared with Jaguar makes 370 hp in base Range Rovers, while the supercharged version now puts out 510 hp, enough that it can accelerate to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds--while still able to tow more than 7700 pounds. Driving dynamics are better than ever, thanks to adaptive suspension controls integrated with the Rover's stability control system. And equipment remains royally complete; heated front and rear seats, a power tilt-and-slide sunroof, LED interior lighting, and Bluetooth integration are available, as are a range of wood and leather interior options.


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