Because it emerges from the storied Land Rover Company in England, the 2019 Range Rover Supercharged arrives with a presumption that it can conquer trackless terrain anywhere.
In the United States, that translates into recreational off-roading in many venues around the country. But driving this powerful, expensive giant, it’s hard to imagine it being used as anything but a beautiful luxury boulevard SUV.
At 16 feet 5 inches long and an inch over 6 feet tall, it’s way big for serious off-road adventures. For another, the luxurious tester came with a bottom-line price of $118,320. Unless you have megabucks to waste, it’s not the vehicle you’d want to scratch and bash in the outback.
As with any Land Rover, the right stuff is there, delivering the serenity of knowing you’d have a possible exit in a movie-like scenario of aliens blowing up streets and freeways.
Other than that, most owners likely will have little inclination to learn the details of its sophisticated all-wheel drive, air suspension system, terrain response with hill descent control, low-traction and hill launch assist, and roll stability control.
So, swanky shopping excursions, country clubs, and cruising sedately to black-tie galas await. It’s a bit of a shame because the Land Rover Supercharged is a high-performance machine that can rip off 0-to-60-mph acceleration in 5 seconds with a top speed of 130 mph — notwithstanding a curb weight of 5,235 pounds.
In an era when turbocharged smaller engines are taking over the light-vehicle landscape, the Land Rover Supercharged gets its motivation from a supercharged, 5.0-liter V-8 engine that delivers 518 horsepower and 461 lb.-ft. of torque.
It gets the grunt to all four wheels under any on- or off-road condition through an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode controlled by paddles on the steering wheel — just like super cars — although paddles now show up on lesser cars as well.
A Sport setting on the rotary transmission selector amps the acceleration and allows manual shifting. But you can’t get to it underway in Drive without shifting into neutral first.
With its air suspension system, which among other skills can lower the back end to ease cargo loading, the Land Rover Supercharged handles decently on twisting, hilly back roads with little body roll or other drama unless you push it too hard. But understand that it is no sports sedan — or even a quick, smaller high-performance SUV like the Porsche Macan.
As a long-distance Interstatec cruiser, however, it has few peers. The seats are sinfully supportive and comfortable, it tracks truly with few steering corrections needed, and passengers observe minimal intrusion of wind, mechanical, or road noise.
The difficulties come in little things that could be easily corrected: Worst is the sunshade for the panoramic glass sunroof. Adhering to a current fad among luxury vehicles, the shade is made of a sort of perforated, cheesecloth-like cloth that admits too much sunlight heat into the cabin to the point where the air conditioning can barely keep up. Buyers may find themselves motivated to demand opaque shades for improved climate control comfort and improved fuel efficiency.
Range Rover’s two big center touchscreens control vehicle and infotainment functions. They are mounted below the driver’s line of sight, at chest and belt-buckle height, featuring tiny icons that require focus of the eyes and an aimed finger touch, making the driver take his or her eyes off the road.
Best to get everything set before moving off. True, an owner’s time with the Supercharged will breed familiarity. And, as with so many luxury vehicles, these functions could easily be more intuitive.