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Car Report: Slimmed-down Range Rover a luxury stunner

Monday - 1/27/2014, 5:20am  ET

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This ultra-luxury SUV is rare in that it's luxurious and yet one of the more competent off-roaders around. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

WASHINGTON - For this week's car report we have a little British sophistication with the 2014 Range Rover V8 supercharged.

This ultra-luxury SUV is rare in that it's luxurious and yet one of the more competent off-roaders around. The Range Rover was recently redesigned with a big weight loss of more than 700 pounds by intensive use of lighter materials such as aluminum for the doors, hood and body panels. Dropping that amount of weight really pays off in the driving experience of the Range Rover.

I'm really surprised just how much I enjoyed driving the Range Rover V8 supercharged with a base price of around $99,000. My test vehicle was priced at $104,000. The base Range Rover with a new Supercharged V6 starts at around $85,000.

Not only is this fast for a Luxury SUV, this is a downright fast vehicle -- period. With a lovely sounding 510hp supercharged V8 and smooth 8-speed automatic transmission, it can quickly get from 0 to seeing red and blue flashing lights in your rear-view if you're not careful.

The Range Rover V8 supercharged also likes premium fuel, about a gallon every 19 miles on the highway and 13 in the city. But, if you can afford to buy one, some high grade fuel shouldn't be a problem. The Range Rover has a full-time four- wheel-drive terrain response system. You can choose the type of terrain you're tackling with a rotary knob and the Range Rover will get it done. I used the snow/gravel setting to tackle an untreated parking lot with several inches of snow and ice and, after 20 minutes of fun (oops, I mean testing), I came away impressed with the big Range Rover's ability.

Yes, it's equipped with a big, powerful engine and it's a Range Rover so of course it tackles just about any road or off-road condition, but the inside is a quiet and luxurious treat. It's complete with rich oxford leather heated and cooled front seats. In fact, my wife said they're the best heated seats she's ever used, but she wanted a larger vanity mirror on the visor.

For backseat passengers, there are also heated and reclining seats, along with climate control. A heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel is nice to have, especially in the cold.

This ride is rounded off with rich, dark wood and aluminum trim, not to mention plush carpeting. I really appreciate the front and rear park assist with camera display. It shows all sides of the vehicle.

Navigation is easy to use and the optional Meridian premium audio system with 825 watts is loud and clear.

The Range Rover signature split tailgate is great for loading and not making a mess of your pants as you never get near the bumper. Plus, it's power operated. Even with the standard 21-inch wheels I found the ride to be very smooth with just a little lean in some faster corners. The enhanced electronic air ride suspension does a good job of keeping the Range Rover feeling smaller than it is.

Land Rover pretty much invented the Luxury SUV more than three decade ago with the Range Rover. Now, this new generation Range Rover is more refined and one of the most capable SUVs on the market. With the quickness of a sports car, a modern interior plus its good looks, Land Rover will sell the new Range Rover as fast as it makes them.

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