I've spent a lot of time in Range Rovers recently, none of them mine. A week in New York saw me chauffeured around Manhattan in everything from the entry-level model to a fully loaded Long-Wheelbase Autobiography. Then I spent a week driving a V8 Supercharged model while the Real MPG team put my car through their detailed fuel consumption test.

So what have I learned? First, the rear seat in the Range Rover isn't as good as it should be. The seat cushion feels hard and thin, and is located a little too close to the floor. It's especially noticeable in the Long Wheelbase, where the extra 7.3 inches of rear-seat legroom promise genuine limo plushness the rear seat emphatically fails to deliver.

Most African cities boast roads in far better shape than Manhattan's battered streets, which threw the differences in ride quality between the various wheel/tire combinations available on the Range Rover into sharp relief. The various 21- and 22-inch alloys available on the new Range Rover look terrific, but for ride comfort the entry-level car's 19-inch wheel and tire setup is unbeatable. From the back seat, the base Range Rover consistently proved noticeably quieter and more comfortable than the Long-Wheelbase Autobiography.

Back in L.A., on roads I know intimately, the V8 Supercharged confirmed my New York observations. There's more noise and impact harshness from the 275/45 R21 Goodyear Eagle F1 tires than the 235/65 R19 Pirelli Scorpions fitted to my car, and a noticeable edginess to the ride as a result. The V8 Supercharged's steering doesn't have quite the same delicacy, either, a legacy of having to twist a bigger contact patch across the tarmac.

The other thing I've learned this month? I'm not sure I'd take the V-8 engine over the V-6. Sure, 510 hp is nicer than 340 hp, and you feel it in the mid-range, where the V-8 delivers an elastic surge of acceleration. There's none of the slight graininess the V-6 exhibits under load, either. But in real world, everyday driving, it's truly difficult to justify the extra expense of buying and running the bigger engine.

There's always one vehicle in a lineup that's the sweet spot car; the car that delivers the best all-round combination of performance and value. In the case of the 2014 Range Rover, it's probably the base model.


Our Car
Service life 7704 mi
Average fuel economy 15.6 mpg
CO2 emissions 1.24 lb/mi
EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ 17/23/19 mpg
Unresolved problems None
Maintenance cost $0
Normal-wear cost $0