Forget the faded fad of Priuses, Volts, and Teslas. Ignore the showoff in his bright blue Lamborghini, the boxer in a convoy of Rolls Royces. Because there's really only one king car of the Hollywood elite, and it's the Range Rover.
No other car has become such a fixture of wealth and style. Post up on Rodeo Drive and you'll see scores of the British dreadnoughts cruising through the palm-lined boulevard, the steadfast companion of wealthy buyers with no need to show off.
Proponents say the Range Rover is more powerful than a battleship, as luxurious as a night at the Ritz and as capable as a boy scout.
I borrowed one from Land Rover for a week to find out whether it lives up to the hype.
The dispatcher sent me a confirmation email the day that the Range Rover was to be delivered, listing the car as a Range Rover Sport. Contrary to what the name suggests, this isn't a more potent version of the common cruise ship, it's a smaller and less expensive alternative to the full-fat proper Range Rover. Waking up to that news was a bit of a bummer.
That changed the moment I looked out of my living room window and saw a full-fledged 104,890 Range Rover Supercharged in an Aruba silver two-tone color scheme arrive in the driveway.
While the Range Rover Classic looked as good running guns in the desert as it did parked in Savile Row, the new one is much more Connecticut than Congo.
The restrained elegance theme is continued inside, where milky-soft leather and thickly lacquered wood cover all the major surfaces. It has the trademark high-riding seating position that gives you an excellent view of the road ahead, with clear visibility all around.
The design won't wow you the way the modern crop of Mercedes sedans or Volvos will, but it still looks lovely.
The Brits also can't match German material quality. Cruise control, climate control and steering wheel audio control all goes through plastic buttons; though satisfyingly weighted, they're still dull, gray and out of place in a six-figure chariot.
Ditto Jaguar Land Rover's infotainment system, which isn't nearly as easy to use or as fast as it should be. The screens in the gauge cluster are too grainy to feel premium and the 360-degree camera system has such limited range that it might as well not be there at all.
The climate control knobs are digital, so when you push them in they become seat heating and cooling controls. Supple leather armrests make long distance, one-handed steering much more pleasant. Finally, a gear selector that motors itself up and down when you start the car adds an element of occasion to every drive.
The Range Rover rides on standard air suspension, allowing it to rise and lower for purposes of greater efficiency or greater off-road performance. Land Rover's terrain response system is aboard, allowing the car's brain to sort out off-roading situations and electronically adjust throttle response, shifting, traction control and the differential to give you the most grip.
This may come as a surprise to those readers who only see Range Rovers crawling around downtown, but all of that tech helps this model live up to the car's legendary off-road capability. Even posh versions of the car like this can wade through nearly 3 feet of water without a dollar of damage.
The Supercharged flavor packs 510 horsepower courtesy of a 5.0L V8. Delivered through an eight-speed automatic, those horses will yank the Rover from a standstill to 60 miles per hour in a few ticks under 5 seconds.
It's a delight to drive. Though it lacks any advanced self-driving features, its adaptive cruise control is the best I've ever used.The powertrain is nearly perfect; the car is confident and capable careening down country lanes and up mountains.
Wrapped together, the Range Rover Supercharged is a shocking feat of engineering and proof that with enough money you can solve any problem.
I've driven five-passenger SUVs similarly equipped to the big Rover and that cost $40,000 less than this model's $104,890 MSRP. And other six-figure SUVs, like the Volvo XC90 Excellence, offer private jet-style seats and built-in fridges. Given Land Rover's reliability reputation, it's hard to justify the price on a quality level.
On a features level, the value proposition falls pretty hard on its face. But on a style and status basis, the Range Rover Supercharged presents an impeccable value.
More importantly, I contend that the Range Rover Supercharged is the cheapest way into high-roller status. Sure, you'll get more value in a Volvo. But you also won't fit into a parking lot full of Bentleys, Aston Martins and Rolls Royces. And since the cheapest Rolls Royce starts about $200,000 north of this car's sticker, you can argue that it's a good value from some perspectives.
Let's be real. If you wanted the most of from your money, you wouldn't be reading about six-figure British behemoths. But you're still reading, so you must be interested. Allow me to end with a piece of advice.
Forget the logic and dollars, the sense and the cents. There's a reason you see these cars everywhere. It's needlessly capable, so stylish and so massive, that it activates a primal part of the brain. The car makes you feel powerful, cool even, and Land Rover has this down to an exact science.
You don't buy a Range Rover because it makes sense, you buy one because of how it makes you feel. And it made me feel pretty darn good.
Driving Experience: 5
Price as configured: $104,890