2012 Range Rover HSE and Range Rover HSE Lux

For nearly four decades, the 2012 Range Rover HSE has been an icon amongst 4WDs, renowned
for its impressive combination of comfort, luxury and off-road ability. Range Rovers HSE have long been the preferred choice of transport for many a celebrity, plus members of Royal families, and the vehicle has a ‘presence’ on the road that commands attention. However, the path for Range Rover owners hasn’t always been smooth, with some unhappy stories about reliability and finish on the earlier models. In recent years, quality has improved steadily and significantly, and now it promises to even better in this latest third generation model. This new Range Rover HSE was designed during the company’s ownership by BMW (beforebeing bought by Ford) and it uses mostly BMW mechanicals in a new body with monocoque construction (no separate chassis) and fully independent suspension with Macpherson struts up front and double wishbones at the rear.

The new Range Rover’s 4.4 litre V8 engine and five-speed automatic transmission come straight from the BMW X5 4WD wagon and it’s a much smoother, more powerful and more fuel efficient combination than was provided by the old 4.6 litre OHV engine and fourspeed automatic. The second model option for buyers is the Td6 model. As its name infers, this version has a turbo-diesel six-cylinder engine (also BMWsourced) of 3.0 litres capacity. It too, is coupled with a five-speed automatic. As has been the case with Range Rovers for some time now, manual transmission is not available. Equipment levels are the HSE and the Vogue in the V8 models and Range Rover HSE and Range Rover HSE Lux in the diesels. Prices in U.S.A start at $114,990 for an SE (tested), with the HSE diesel costing $80,275. The V8 HSE Lux(also tested) is priced at $84,645, while the Range Rover Supercharged 5.0 liter V8 510bhp the range at $95,675.

As you might expect in a vehicle costing more than $ 90,000, equipment levels are quite extensive, even in the base Range Rover HSE model. Standard occupant safety features across the range include dual front airbags, front side airbags, front and rear head airbags, antisubmarine front and rear seats, height adjustable head restraints and three point seat belts for all seating positions. Vehicle control features include the permanent four-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake force distribution (EBD), emergency brake assist (EBA), 4 wheel electronic traction control (ETC), cornering brake control (CBC), dynamic stability control (DSC), hill descent control (HDC) and engine drag-torque control (EDC). Comfort and convenience items include climate control air conditioning, electrically adjustable steering column and front seats, power windows and mirrors (mirrors also heated), remote central locking, a trip computer with speed alert, and an auto dimming rear view interior mirror. There’s an unusually large number of interior storage compartments, an abundance of interior lighting and two auxiliary power sockets.

The Range Rover HSE also has a six speaker single CD stereo system, an immobiliser and an alarm, alloy wheels (five), front fog lamps and tinted glass. The HSE LUX models add a memory setting for the driver’s seat, exterior mirrors and steering column; an 11-speaker stereo with multi CD changer, and differently designed alloy wheels. The top-spec Vogue gets a television and satellite navigation, a tilt and slide glass sunroof, 19 inch alloy wheels, rain sensing wipers, powerfold exterior mirrors, bi-Xenon headlamps with wiper/washers, park distance control, heated seats and steering wheel, and ‘Oxford’ leather seat trim.

Just as the second generation Range Rover that debuted here in the mid ‘90s was virtually a brand new vehicle with rounder, softer lines, yet still instantly recognizable as a ‘Rangie’, this third generation model does the same thing. The new model is still unmistakably a Range Rover, yet the styling displays many contemporary features. The most obvious of these are the four circular front lights housed in a single cluster and the similarly styled taillights. Large vertical extractor vents are located at the back edge of the front
mudguards. Though it’s a fresh new look, the low waistline of the previous two generations of Range Rovers has been retained. Combine that with the high seating positions, and you have the marque’s traditional ‘command’ driving position that has long been popular with owners. With BMW overseeing the development of this new model Range Rover, standards of finish seem considerably better than in past models. Panel gaps in general, look to be larger than those on competitors such as the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz ML, but the test vehicle was free of any visible faults or blemishes.

The Range Rover HSE and Range Rove HSE Lux rates highly on both these attributes. The combination of an extremely supple suspension and comfortable, wellshaped seating ensures occupants will enjoy their journey, whether it’s short or long. As usual, the centre rear seating position isn’t as comfortable as the other four positions, due to harder padding and less shaping. However, the rear floor is just about flat, which helps with leg space and comfort. Both front and rear occupants have ample head and legroom.

Though the luggage area isn’t as long or as wide as some of the competitors, the Range Rover still provides a good size load area, with plenty of attention to detail. Commendably, the full size spare wheel and tyre is neatly tucked away in a well in the floor. When longer items need to be carried, the rear seat and cushion are divided in a 2-1 arrangement and fold easily in one operation, without the need to remove the head restraints. As before, the two-piece tailgate allows easy loading, and the bottom half can double as a handy seat or table.

By and large, the driving cockpit of the Range Rover is a pleasant place to be, with a noticeable improvement in the layout of controls and instruments over earlier models. Good room, and the electric seat and steering column adjustments, make it relatively easy for drivers of various sizes and physiques to find a comfortable and effective driving position. Though the head restraints obstruct rearward vision somewhat, the high seating positions and large glass areas provide occupants with a good view to the front and sides. The Range Rover feels big and bulky when parking or manoeuvring in tight places and though the turning circle is large by passenger sedan standards, it’s smaller than the previous model.


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