David MottonSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Tow cars’ written by David Motton
A lot has changed in 43 years. Early cars were fairly utilitarian, but the Range Rover has steadily evolved into a different kind of 4x4. Part off-roader, part luxury car, it's now more likely to be seen outside a Premiership football club's training ground than in a farmer's yard.
Even in tough economic times there seem to be no shortage of people willing to pay for the Range Rover's blend of opulence and a sense of adventure. If you want to put one on your drive, you'll need to shell out at least £71,295.
That puts the Range Rover out of reach of all but the most affluent tow car drivers. But if you are looking for the ultimate tug to pull your Airstream or Vanmaster, is the new Range Rover the ideal money-no-object tow car?
So far we've only had the chance to drive the car solo, but the Range Rover has all the ingredients to tow brilliantly.
Leaner and greener
Even the least powerful engine, the TDV6, puts out 254bhp and 443lb ft of torque. There's little need to look further up the range, especially as the TDV6 delivers much better economy than any other Range Rover, past or present. Official figures promise 37.7mpg, and we achieved 35mpg driving with restraint on A- and B-roads.
For an extra £6k, give or take a few pounds, you can upgrade to the SDV8. Your money buys an extra 80bhp and another 73lb ft of torque, but since the six-cylinder engine is more economical and quieter, it would be our choice.
If you're an oligarch with an oil well, there's also a supercharged V8 petrol with over 500bhp. But with official combined economy of 20.5mpg, you'll spend as much time filling up as you will inside your luxury 4x4.
Luxury car quality
Which is a shame, as the cabin of the new Range Rover really is a very fine place to be. Land Rover says improving quality has been one of its key targets with the new car, and there's a solidity and precision to everything you see and touch. Time will tell if that quality runs deep enough to lift lingering doubts about Range Rover reliability.
Anyone travelling in the back will see the biggest improvement compared with the old car. There's much more legroom, so the Range Rover can better stand comparison with limousine rivals like the Audi A8 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The transmission tunnel is less pronounced, which makes the car a better five-seater than before. For buyers who only ever use four seats there's the option of two armchair-like rear seats instead of a three-person bench.
However many are travelling inside, and whatever the terrain, a comfortable ride is guaranteed. The long-travel air-suspension does a brilliant job of smoothing over rough Tarmac, and is remarkably plush off-road, too.
There's a little more body movement over dips and crests than a BMW X5's suspension would allow, but the Range Rover is still secure and confidence-inspiring at speed. The V8 is even better than the V6, since it comes with Dynamic Response system, which reduces lean in bends.
Refinement is also good enough to rival the best luxury saloons. A car of this size punches a seriously big hole in the air, yet there's very little wind noise. The engines stay in the background, too, especially the six-cylinder diesel.
Taking the rough with the smooth
The really clever bit is that making the Range Rover such a brilliant car on the road hasn't compromised performance off it. Land Rover's Terrain Response system now adjusts the car's systems to suit the ground being covered automatically, although the driver can still choose from five settings themselves. Switch the gearbox to its low-ratio mode, and there's not much the Range Rover can't take in its stride. For the most part little driver skill is required. Point it in the right direction, trust in the electronics, and the car does the rest.
Those clever electronics should help when towing, too, with a Trailer Stability Assist system to help prevent a snake. Even the towball extends and retracts electronically, so as not to spoil the car’s lines when not needed.
The new Range Rover’s towing limit matches its predecessor’s at 3500kg. However, kerbweights have dropped by as much as 420kg. The TDV6 weighs 2160kg, which gives an 85% match figure of 1836kg. Some twin-axle tourers weigh much more than this, especially when laden.
For most buyers, though, the reduced weight has more benefits than downsides, since it plays a part in the new Range Rover’s improved agility and economy.
So, is the new Range Rover the ultimate tow car? We’ll find out at this year’s Tow Car Awards.