Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: June 29, 2017
What exactly is a Range Rover Autobiography, and why does it cost nearly $40,000 more than the standard trim? Not that the base Range Rover is running cheap either, with a starting price in the six figure range.
Yet, most Range Rovers I’ve seen on the road carry this Autobiography moniker on the trunklid. Is it really that special? It’s a question I’ve asked myself countless times too, but with a little research and a thorough test drive, I think I finally have the answer.
First off, it’s best not to think of the Autobiography as just a fully loaded version of the standard Range Rover. The Autobiography comes with a few exclusive features not available on the lower trims. This includes semi-aniline leather, which replaces the standard perforated Oxford leather. The semi-aniline is much softer, plusher, but marginally more comfortable. I doubt most people could tell the difference without a back to back comparison, though.
The Autobiography also gets 22-way adjustable driver’s and passenger seat, which replaces the 18-way seats. This means the top of the seatback is adjustable, along with the headrest which can move up, down, fore, and aft. They are also winged, meaning it’s easy for your head to find a nice snug position for the journey ahead.
The seats are definitely the stand out features. They’re beyond comfortable and when paired with the Range’s dominant seating position, chunky door sills for resting your arm, adjustable armrests (like they have on minivans), and expansive view in front, it’s one of the most relaxing cruisers out there.
Other exclusive features include larger 10-inch rear entertainment screens that replace the standard 8-inch ones, more interior colour options (17 versus 9), and a louder, crisper 1700-watt Meridian speaker system that trumps the regular 825-watt system. While it’s nice to 1700 watts pumping away, if you’re simply listening to the radio, Sirius XM, or compressed mp3s through your phone, it’s hard to fully take advantage of what it has to offer. Pop in actual CDs for the best quality.
Autobiography owners also have the choice to opt for Rear Executive Seating, which transforms this five-passenger SUV to a four-passenger one. The rear center seat is replaced with a center console tunnel that houses a glovebox, compartments for the remote and headphones, and HVAC controls. Personally, I think this makes the Autobiography ten times more luxurious. Mix it with some saddle brown leather and it looks spectacular. It is odd though, to have such a large SUV at your disposal but with the ability to only ferry four passengers. Such is the trade off for personal luxury.
Every option in the book also comes standard with the Autobiography, including a rear view camera, adaptive Xenon headlights, massage seats, four-zone climate control, and center console cooler. The only options with extra costs come down to certain exterior paints and wheel choices.
The Range Rover starts at an MSRP of $111,500, and long wheelbase models with 186 mm of extra rear legroom start at $123,500. Opting for the LWB Autobiography, as ours was, hikes it up to $160,000.
If you’re the type to ball out and love checking every option on the list (and can afford to), by all means the Autobiography is one of the most luxurious SUVs at its price point. Its closest competitor would be the Mercedes-Benz G-Class but that archaic dinosaur is boxy, cramped on the inside, and lacks the same on-road manners as the Range.
Personally, I don’t think the “Autobiography” lives up to its name as much as I thought it would. There’s not as much customization as I would have liked. Sure there are a countless number of exterior paints and interior colours, and the rear executive seating is phenomenal, but it still feels limited. There are no custom steering wheels, custom paints, custom logos on the seats or door sill, or extra options that could set it apart from other Autobiographies on the road.
The moniker implies something exclusive, something personal, but in the end it just ends up being a fancy Range with a few sprinkles on top. There isn’t anything too personal about it, other than the fact that you’re able to afford one.
Of course, I’m being incredibly picky here. Afterall, anyone who steps foot into this luxury land yacht will be blown away by the Range’s amenities, but I’m taking it all at face value to see if that extra $40,000 is really worth it.
Personally, I’d take the standard Range Rover with the fuel-efficient turbodiesel V6 and a few options checked off, and call it a day with an MSRP under $120,000. Only giants and basketball players will need the extra legroom offered by the LWB model, and most buyers will be fully content with the standard seats - ignorance is bliss.
And regardless of the trim chosen, the Range’s driving dynamics do not change one bit, which is a good thing. The 5.0-litre V8 under the hood is supercharged and incredibly potent. It steers well, it’s light, and easy to drive despite the heft and size. It will tip and heave on heaving braking and acceleration, but the air suspension works hard at keeping the body tight and taut.
The interior is quiet as a vault too. You can really tell it's well insulated when you close the windows and feel your ears pop as the pressure seals. It’s like being on the International Space Station.
But that’s just me. If the Autobiography isn’t special enough for you, Range Rover offers something called the SVAutobiography Dynamic ($195,000) and SVAutobiography LWB ($225,000). This means even more and exclusive paint choices (including two-tone paints for the LWB model), 61 to be exact, extendable trunk cargo floors, tailgate event seating, electric deployable rear tables, leather headlining, and rear calf rests. But for that money, you’re creeping into Bentley Bentayga territory.
So to answer the question: is the Autobiography is worth it? No. The base trim will be enough for 90% of buyers. The other 10%, well, you’re probably too busy to read this article anyway. Keep the extra money, opt for nicer 22-inch wheels, a few creature comfort packages, and spend the rest on some good warranty coverage.
型号 Model: 2017 Range Rover LWB Autobiography
顏色 Paint Type: Santorini Black
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $123,500
試車售價 Price as Tested: $162,100
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 3,120
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,199 / 2,220 / 1,840
車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,413
引擎 Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged LR-V8
最大馬力 Horsepower: 510 hp @ 6,000 - 6,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 461 lb-ft @ 2,500 - 5,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed ZF automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, 4X4
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 17.2 / 12.5 / 15.1
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 13.9
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 22-inch Style "601" wheels