The 2013 Land Rover Range Rover is only the fourth generation of the luxurious sport utility vehicle since the model was first introduced to the United States in 1987. The pressure was on to design a successor that extended the model's luxurious allure while retaining its core values. Surprisingly capable at tackling challenging off-road scenarios, the outgoing model was also a heavy, thirsty animal that epitomized posh sport utilities for discriminating drivers. Did Land Rover manage to modernize their 4-by-4 without losing its distinctive character?

All About Aluminum

The core (quite literally) of the new Range Rover's redesign is its all-new aluminum chassis, which makes the Land Rover Range Rover the world's only all-aluminum SUV. A chassis that's 397 pounds lighter than its predecessor helps contribute to a staggering overall weight loss of around 700 pounds. The benefits of using aluminum throughout are many, including the win/win combination of enhanced fuel economy and boosted performance. In fact, both available powertrains -- naturally aspirated and supercharged -- enjoy efficiency gains of 11 percent to 14 percent and 5 percent to 8 percent, respectively, though they're unchanged for 2013. Acceleration from 0 to 60 miles per hour in the normally aspirated engine now requires 6.5 seconds, while the supercharged version does the deed in 5.1 seconds, gaining nearly a second in its sprint to highway speed.

Two Engines, Four Trim Levels

Though the newest Range Rover boasts a mile-long list of updates and upgrades, both engines haven't been altered since the 2010 model year. But fear not: The mills come equipped with all the modern mechanical bells and whistles you'd expect, such as direct injection, and are now mated to 8-speed transmissions. Thanks to weight savings throughout, the naturally aspirated 375 horsepower base engine is the first Range Rover to achieve 20 miles per gallon on the highway. The 510 hp supercharged version isn't quite as thrifty, producing 13 mpg city/19 mpg highway, for a combined figure of 15 mpg.

While the Range Rover has retained four basic equipment levels, the nomenclature of the first two tiers is different. The HSE is now a base model with no name, and the old HSE Lux is now simply referred to as HSE. The top two levels remain Supercharged and Autobiography.

Inside: Bigger and Plusher, Yet Simpler

Thanks in part to a slightly bigger footprint with a 1.6 inch longer wheelbase, rear legroom increases 4.7 inches, and knee room grows by 2 inches. The 2013 Land Rover Range Rover is now easier to get into and out of, and electronically deployable side steps aid entering and exiting. The outgoing Rover wasn't exactly a stripped down ride, but newly added niceties include a power liftgate, upgraded stereo systems by Meridian, steering wheel paddle shifters and more extensive luxury features like available rear seat massagers. Land Rover also responded to customer feedback by reducing the number of switches on the dashboard. The effect is a streamlined, cleaned-up space whose functionality is centralized in the navigation screen, which is flanked by back-lit menu buttons.

Purists Rest Easy: Range Rover Remains Off-Road-Ready

Though most Range Rover drivers will never take their high-priced SUV away from the boulevard and off the beaten path, Land Rover's rich off-roading history demanded that the model be equally capable on challenging terrain. A new Terrain Response 2 air suspension system has five settings for various surface conditions, as well as hill descent control and a low gear setting. But more crucially, the system uses probability estimators that calculate at a rate of 100 times a second, while this 4X4's underpinnings are also configured for extreme off-road maneuverability. Thanks to a revised engine intake system, the Range Rover can now wade through water that's 35.4 inches deep -- 7.9 inches more than its predecessor. Its approach, departure and breakover angles are still boulder-friendly, and its generous 23.5 inches of suspension travel eclipse those of competitors, such as the Volkswagen Touareg (18.3 inches), BMW X5 (15.4 inches) and Mercedes-Benz GL-class (18.9 inches). The new suspension setup also enables flatter handling on tarmac.

The 2013 Range Rover starts at $83,545 for the base model, $88,545 for the HSE, $99,995 for the Supercharged and $130,995 for the Autobiography.

What do you think of the new Range Rover? Let us know in the comments below. 

author photo

Basem Wasef is an automotive journalist, author, and photographer with two coffee table books under his belt, and is a regular contributor to Popular Mechanics, Robb Report, and Maxim among others. When Basem isn't traveling the globe testing vehicles, he enjoys calling Los Angeles home.

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