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Renaissance for a Queen
2004 Range Rover HSE
By Alain Gayot

In short: Definitely the reigning queen of SUV's.

We have learned to respect the Range Rover as a regal automobile. The birth of the Range Rover dates back to the '70s, before the term SUV was practiced. In fact, the automobile invented the category. From the dirt roads of the Scottish Highlands to the sands of the Sahara via the Champ Elysées we have admired the prestigious automobile. Now the U.S., which constitutes its primary market, is a symbol of its success. Well-to-do New York developers, successful Chicago restaurateurs and hip Hollywood directors drive them. Is it the ultimate coronation of high achievements? Certainly to own one, it can't hurt to fit into these income brackets.

With new technological developments, the car is far superior to the one of a few decades ago, and it has to compete with at least an offering from each of the luxury brands. It had to be better... and it is. As well, the Ford Motor Company, which now controls the brand, will actively market the new model and all of its attributes.

It's as much a city (in Los Angles) car as it is a country car. The ride is superb due to the Enhanced Electronic Air Suspension system with Automatic Load-Leveling. The Access, Highway, standard and off-road modes are automated or can be manually selected.

Picture yourself leaving the home in Pacific Heights and reaching the country estate in Napa at the end of a noble dirt road. Load up a few cases of wine and drive down the muddy trail in total safety (see Quick Sheet box below). You'll simply love the 570-Watt, 15-speaker Harman/Kardon Logic7 surround sound system and the GSP satellite navigation system with off-road functionality. We got to use to the "butler's" direction in proper British English. The last thing you'd need would be freshly brewed tea on demand.

Our test vehicle included the Luxury Interior Package, which comprises Premium Leather Contour Seats with Center Fluting, 14-way Driver and 12-way Passenger Seat Electric Adjustments, Heated Front and Rear Seats, Heated Steering Wheel, Integrated Ski Bag, Upgraded Leather on Upper Dashboard, Premium Leather on Seats, Door Pulls and Cubby Box, and Walnut Wood.

Warranty/Service: Four-year/50,000 Mile New Vehicle Limited Warranty; Land Rover 24 Hour Road Recovery Service; Complimentary scheduled maintenance.

Base Price: $72,285 / As Tested: $77,950

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front-engine, four-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 5-door SUV

Engine: 4.4-liter V8
Horsepower: 282 bhp @ 5400 rpm
Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic

Curb weight: 5,379 lbs
Wheelbase: 113.4 in
Length/Width/Height: 195/75.7/73.3 in
Turning circle: 38 feet

Brakes: four-wheel disc with ABS and electronic brake assist
independent front and rear, electronic air suspension

Traction: four-wheel drive, traction control, vehicle stability control, limited slip differential

front air bags, front and rear side air bags

0-60 mph: 9.0 seconds
Top Speed: 122 mph (governed)

EPA City: 12 mpg
EPA Highway: 17 mpg

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Photography: AlphaMedia

(Updated: 07/25/08 HC)

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