Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: October 14, 2022
It is never an easy task to follow-up on a successful vehicle, let alone one of the most iconic British SUVs on the market. Yet, the new 2022 Range Rover has accomplished just that. New from the ground up, this regal couch on wheels has now adopted rear-wheel steering, a flurry of new hybrid and non-hybrid engines, and seating to finally accommodate seven passengers. But it has also kept the essentials that made it notable in the first place like a choice between short- and long-wheelbases, a split rear tailgate, and a prime focus on comfort and luxury amenities.
Yet, you might be hard pressed to tell it’s a brand new Range from the outside. From the front, the slimmer headlights and cleaner front fascia are instantly identifiable as a Range Rover, with few distractions from its bulging shoulders and commanding road presence. It takes a keen eye to recognize the mild yet consistent design changes. The rear is more drastic with new vertical and heavily tinted tailights that is both futuristic and a nod to signatures from the brand’s DNA.
The interior isn’t a major leap forward in design either, but the devil is in the details. Small upgrades and revisions have been made in both style and ergonomics. Positively reeking of top-shelf leather and wood accents, the cabin finally feels like a proper Bentley Bentayga and Mercedes-Maybach competitor. The switchgear and finishes are upscale - not as chrome-intensive as the Bentley, but softer and sleeker, almost Volvo-like. The large metal paddle shifters are satisfying to curl your fingers around (though 99% of drivers will never use them), and the quietness of the interior is absolutely impressive, employing active noise cancellation like they have in headphones to keep the cabin noise down to a minimum. In fact, if you’re driving at speed and roll up the windows, you will feel the cabin seal up like a pressurized chamber. There is slightly more wind noise pummeling the pillars next to the driver’s ear than its rivals, but it’s relatively minor.
Touchscreen functionality is excellent. Gone are the fussy dual-stacked screens and in their place is a larger center screen with a smaller recessed panel below for auxiliary features. The plush and thickly padded seats are positioned very upright, offering a grand couch-like seating position that is only possible with large SUVs like this. The wide door sills double as an armrest, and the winged headrests are adjustable just like on airplanes.
The same ambiance follows to the rear seats, with both seats individually contoured and reclinable. The center seat hides an electronically operated center console replete with a touchscreen to control the sunblinds and seat functions, along with a detachable vanity mirror and hidden cupholder compartment.
One of the Range Rover’s new party tricks is the tailgate event suite, which essentially takes its extended tailgate panel and doubles it as bench seating should you find yourself at a drive-in theatre, beach party, or perhaps just hanging out pandemic-style in a parking lot. People have been doing that all along but Range Rover finally made it official, and even added leather padding to turn them into actual seats. They have even installed speakers into the liftgate that will direct all the music to those tweeters for the optimal audio experience.
The new Range is both an objective and subjective achievement but it does have its ergonomic foibles. The model we drove was the short wheelbase and like the G 63 AMG, it’s a substantially sized SUV with a gargantuan silhouette, but it’s not as spacious inside as you might think, at least not like a truck-based SUV like the Navigator or Escalade. The thick seats take up so much room, and my six-foot figure only just fits in the rear when sitting behind myself. Admittedly, the optional 11.4-inch screens that protrude out the front seatbacks add to a slightly cramped feeling but those who ferry passengers often might want to spring for the long wheelbase option instead, as well for the optional third row of seats.
The massaging seats are a nice addition but aren’t very potent, even on its strongest of five intensity settings. Land Rover should hop into a Lincoln Navigator to see what real massaging seats feel like. Here, it’s more of a light touch and passive rumble - we honestly forget it’s on half the time. The same goes for the cooler box in the center console, which actually gets frigid cold, helpful for when you want to store your colas on a hot summer day, but the actual cubby is quite small and narrow, and won’t fit much aside from one or two cans. We’re also not too convinced on the suede-wrapped gear shifter, which has already adopted a few scratches and stains on it. The shifter is also too easy to accidentally push and operate. There is barely any resistance to its movement, and we’ve hit it multiple times when reaching for the lower control panel. Luckily it doesn’t engage unless you’re depressing the lever, but it’s still a minor annoyance.
The Range Rover has always excelled at being a road cruiser and it’s even more well-rounded now with its new powertrains. While hybrids and six-cylinders are available, on tap for us was the top-of-the-range (no pun intended) P530, a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 sourced directly from BMW. It’s the same engine you would find in a BMW X7 M50i or M550i, and it actually sounds like a BMW not just under acceleration, but also during engine start up. Blindfold us and we would have been fooled. The engine fans will even run on overdrive post-shut-off just like in a BMW to cool and prolong the life of that volcanically heated V8.
Compared to the outgoing 5.0-litre supercharged V8, this turbocharged unit produces 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque through an 8-speed automatic transmission, which is 5 hp and 92 lb-ft more than before. That shaves its 0-100 km/h time from 5.4 seconds to 4.6 seconds. The newfound torque and spread out powerband also means you drive the Range Rover very differently than before. It doesn’t feel as perky in the low-end, with power coming on smoother and less abruptly, pulling with even consistency. You can ride the throttle and let the gearbox sort itself out with polished and invisible shifts behind the scenes, and make outrageous progress without ever breaching 5,000 rpm. The Range feels gentler and more relaxed as a result, while also pitching less under heavy acceleration and braking. You wouldn’t think it of an SUV with over 500 horsepower, but it’s an incredibly enjoyable thing to drive at turtle speed. We noted similar fuel economy to the supercharged V8 too, averaging 13.5 L/100km with a heavy focus on highway driving.
The ride quality is right up there, a regal and serene experience that sucks all the stress out of a long commute, and lets you unfurl hundreds of kilometres and arrive as fresh as a daisy. It’s the type of road mannerisms that a Navigator or Grand Wagoneer could only dream of attaining, and is worthy as the brand’s flagship SUV. The Range simply hovers over broken pavement, neutralizing small suspension movements and melting large ones down to a brief shudder down the spine of the chassis. Not that the outgoing Range Rover wasn’t well-heeled in this regard, but it has now adopted the kind of grace and composure that matches a Rolls-Royce Cullinan. Yes, even while wearing 23-inch wheels. It is difficult to unsettle the Range, even on a winding road. It manages its mass well though you can’t flick it around corners in the same careless way you would a BMW X7 or GLS SUV, and expect to make it out with grins from ear to ear.
The steering is numb and devoid of feedback, but light enough to steer with one finger and directional changes and minor adjustments are met with zero resistance. The new rear wheel steering system effectively shrinks its wheelbase and increases its manueverability, allowing us to navigate tight underground spaces with more ease than a compact SUV like a Volvo C40 Recharge. Range Rovers have never felt nimble, but they do now.
The Range Rover has quietly moved upstream in both luxury and price. The First Edition model we drove starts at $182,000, and that’s not even the most expensive trim you can opt for. That claim is reserved for the Range Rover SV long-wheelbase, which lists at $250,100 before options. There’s also a fully electric variant coming, as well as a sportier SVR.
But the price bump is fully justified by its improved bandwidth of abilities, from melting pavement to coddling occupants in a first-class experience worthy of royalty. The new V8 powertrain adds to its effortless and relaxed drive, and even though the outgoing Range Rover was a tough act to follow, Land Rover have somehow made their iconic SUV even more charming, more comfortable, and yes, more expensive.
Model: 2022 Range Rover P530 First Edition
Paint Type: Sunset Gold in Satin Finish
Base Price: $182,000
Price as Tested: $197,120
Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,052 / 2,047 / 1,870
Curb weight (kg): 2,588
Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8
Horsepower: 523 hp @ 5,500 - 6,000 rpm
Torque: 553 lb-ft @ 1,800 - 4,600 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 13.5
Tires: 285/40R23; Pirelli Scorpion Zero All-Season tires