David MottonSee other tow car reviews written by David Motton
From April 07The Range Rover – the pinnacle of the luxury 4x4 class – always seemed more at home among the county class at a polo match than on a caravan site. Its six-cylinder turbodiesel might have been powerful enough for the country set, but rivals such as the VW Touareg V10 offered more muscle for caravanners with twin-axle tourers to tow. That's not a worry now there's a V8 diesel in place of the old six-cylinder unit. There's now a huge 472lb/ft of torque to call upon.
From April 07
The Range Rover – the pinnacle of the luxury 4x4 class – always seemed more at home among the county class at a polo match than on a caravan site. Its six-cylinder turbodiesel might have been powerful enough for the country set, but rivals such as the VW Touareg V10 offered more muscle for caravanners with twin-axle tourers to tow. That's not a worry now there's a V8 diesel in place of the old six-cylinder unit. There's now a huge 472lb/ft of torque to call upon.
What's more, the TDV8 has one of the highest permissible towing weights of any vehicle in its class; it could tow a bus if necessary. We had to borrow a twin-axle Abbey Expression 620 from Michael Jordan Caravans (tel 01483 203 335) to test it properly.
The pulling power of this refined 4x4 is brutal. With a maximum torque of 472lb/ft at 2000rpm, towing is effortless through the gears. It made a 61% match with the Abbey Expression, and we almost forgot we had a caravan on the back.
The smooth engine is mated to a six-speed automatic, electronically controlled transmission, which changes reliably through the gears, even when pulling up a steep incline. If it doesn't, you can change manually with the Command Shift facility. There is also a low-gear range for heavy-duty towing or extreme off-roading.
There was very little pull and shunt from the caravan, making for a very relaxed tow. Our test took place on a blustery day, but the outfit was unaffected. Hitching up was eased by the reversing camera directly over the towball. One feature we particularly liked was the electric parking brake. A pull of the switch puts it on, but it disengages automatically when you drive off. This makes hill starts when towing a cinch.
Unhitched, the Range Rover feels more like a luxury car than a 4x4. It is whisper quiet, except for some wind noise at speed. The ride is cosseting and absorbs the shock of potholes, but the taut suspension helps it handle well on corners. It occasionally feels floaty after bumps and corners, but for a car with such a high centre of gravity, handling is good. At speed the car is stable and the speed-sensitive steering firms up; changing lanes requires a fractional turn of the steering wheel.
The car feels agile, despite its huge kerbweight. Sometimes the automatic gearbox is slow to change down a gear when you want to accelerate quickly. But when the power comes in, you'll be pushed into the leather seats.
The brute power of the engine contrasts sharply with its refinement. It is so difficult to tell that it's a diesel that Land Rover says it patented a device for the fuel neck to avoid filling the car with petrol. But start from stone cold and you'll get the telltale clatter of a diesel engine.
In the Cabin
On the Vogue version we tested, the cabin was all piped leather and wood veneer. The front seats are like armchairs, and not only are they heated for winter, but they're cooled in summer. There is even a heated steering wheel.
Besides being luxurious, the interior is practical. Controls are conveniently placed, and the driving position is good with unimpeded visibility all around.
The split tailgate allows easy access to the boot and the rear seats fold flat to provide 2099 litres of luggage space. This is 500 litres more than the BMW X5 or the Lexus RX; only the Audi Q7's 2035 litres comes close. But the German and Japanese cars offer more rear legroom.
Buying & Owning
The very cheapest TDV8 comes in at £54,020, exceeding rival cars' prices by more than £10,000. In its favour, the Range Rover comes better specced. But in the JD Power Survey of customer satisfaction, Land Rover scored below the industry average from 2002 to 2006. And last year, JD Power rated Range Rover's build quality as being below average.
Although the TDV8 engine is economical for its peformance, fuel bills will be hefty. We managed 18mpg while towing, 1mpg less than we got with the Audi Q7. As for residuals, after three years or 36,000 miles, it should be worth 48% of its original price.
The Range Rover TDV8 Vogue loses a point for being so much pricier than other tugs in its class, but it brings unbeatable power and stability to towing. Besides its high kerbweight and towing maximum, it provides plenty of torque at low revs.
Early indications show Land Rover has worked on improving the build quality of the latest model so it should give less trouble than older Range Rovers. Overall, It is a successful mix of luxury and practicality.
Engine capacity 3630cc
Max power 272bhp @ 4000rpm
Max torque 472lb/ft @ 2000rpm
Max tow weight 3500kg
Cost of towbar fitting £595 plus cost of labour by dealer
Official combined fuel economy economy 25.1mpg
Max speed 124mph
CO2 emissions 299g/km
Luggage capacity 535-2099 litres
Insurance group 17
Overall length 497cm
Width (incl mirrors) 219cm
Max noseweight 150kg
Front seats: headroom 99cm, legroom 109cm
Rear seats: headroom 140cm, legroom 69cm
|Maximum towing limit||3500 kg|
|Torque||472.0 lb ft|
|Official MPG||25.1 mpg|