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The Range Rover is one of the most influential cars of all time. It redefined the SUV as a luxury vehicle; This is the main reason Land Rover became an independent brand and Rover outlasted; and its iconic luxury status is why four of Land Rover’s seven vehicles per sale carry the Range Rover branding. The Range Rover may no longer be the standard luxury SUV. but almost every luxury manufacturer now makes a living selling a variation on the Range Rover concept.
The then owner British Leyland marketed the Range Rover as “a car for all reasons”. They wanted the SUV to retain the off-road capabilities of the original Land Rover (which became the Defender) while combining it with great driving dynamics on the road and enough space and comfort for families. The current model remains true to this ethos … even if it is a little more sophisticated than originally thought starting at $ 90,000.
The first generation Range Rover, also known as Range Rover Classic, was produced from 1969 to 1996. It made its debut with classic Range Rover features such as permanent all-wheel drive, a split tailgate and a two-piece bonnet. It was initially launched as a two-door model, and a four-door version was launched in 1981. The first automatic transmission came in 1982. The first Range Rover hit the US market in 1987 after the switch to fuel injection helped meet US emissions standards.
The second generation Range Rover was launched in 1994. This version was built on a modified first generation architecture. It had an improved adaptive chassis with five ride heights and improved safety features, and the new owner BMW increased the luxury with finer finishes. It was the last Range Rover to offer a manual transmission. A major aesthetic change from the first generation was the switch to rectangular headlights.
The third generation Range Rover debuted in 2001. This was a complete redesign under BMW ownership. The Range Rover switched from a body-on-frame to a unibody construction and from a rigid axle to independent all-wheel air suspension. It was originally designed to share components with the BMW 7 Series, although much of it was phased out after a change of ownership for Ford and Jaguar parts. Land Rover added more luxury and tech accessories.
The fourth generation Range Rover (aka current) launched for the 2012 model year. It dropped more than 900 pounds from the previous generation, in part due to the switch from a steel unibody architecture to a lighter all-aluminum architecture. It was the first Range Rover to offer mild hybrid, hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains. It was also the first Range Rover to add the super-luxury SVAutobiography trim.
Land Rover’s new flagship SUV is slated to hit the market later this year. Here’s what we learned before the launch date.