In the automotive world, there are only a small number of makes that are all SUVS. Arguably, the best known luxury brand with that distinction is Range Rover. And the top position in the Range Rover pecking order is the SVAutobiography edition. Besides having a stretched body for greater room and a 550-horsepower, supercharged V-8 powerplant, this model is really all about true indulgence for its occupants, particularly in the back seats.
As with all Range Rovers and Land Rovers, all-wheel drive is standard, and with a dial on the console, the power can easily be shifted between the front and back wheels to compensate for the surface—i.e. sand, snow, dirt, etc., while the eight-speed automatic transmission can be shifted manually via paddles behind the steering wheel. For holding gears longer and for that extra oomph of power, the transmission dial can be placed in the sport mode. Acceleration isn’t wanting with a zero-to-60 time of 5.1 seconds, and top speed of 140 miles per hour.
But the epitome of function and fun is found in the SUV’s rear seats. With the stretched wheelbase, legroom is enormous. A large center console sits between two individual seats. Dual 10-inch video screens are mounted on the back of each of the front seats for passengers’ viewing pleasure. And in this writer’s opinion, the best seat is located behind the front passenger seat. If no one is seated in the front, the rear occupant—with the use of a button—can move the front seat forward, among other things. With the other buttons, a calf rest can be raised, and the back of the seat can be laid down almost completely flat for a restful nap. And between the seats, for an even more sumptuous ride, you’ll find a chilled bottle holder for your beverage of choice. For work or eating, each seat has a small desktop that can be popped-up and opened. Power shades can be raised or lowered in the side windows with a push of another button.
Jet-esque, passenger amenities aside, the driver experience is equally impressive. As expected, the interior is a nice mix of leather with wood pieces on the center console, steering wheel and dash. Two video screens are available for various functions. The touch screen in the dash’s center takes care of navigation, stereo, phone and other functions. In addition to the standard backup camera, there is 360-degree views are also available—even when speeding down H-1, a front camera can be activated. In the dash pod, the other screen has plenty of data, from instant mileage to radio station information. And like your average jet fighter, a headsup display on the inside of the windshield projects your speed and gear choice without distraction. Like the back ones, the front seats seem infinitely adjustable, including side bolsters on the seat back. A four-zone climate system handles everyone’s various temperature needs.
On the road, this SUV towers over almost all normal vehicles and gives the driver a commanding view without being tipsy on the corners. Air suspension helps in that regard. The supercharged V-8 is swift without being intrusive, even when accelerating with vigor. An engine start/stop system is activated at stoplights for better fuel mileage.
Although this version of the Range Rover is called the Autobiography edition, perhaps a better name might be the autograph edition—if you own this particular model, your fans may want your autograph should you find yourself sitting in the back seat.