2017 Range Rover Autobiography LWB

2017 Range Rover Autobiography LWB

For those that don’t find the ‘regular’ Range Rover posh enough

Words by: Adam Allen

 

Obviously this one is more special than your neighbour’s Range Rover. What gives?

We have never heard people gripe that the range-topping Range Rover was too small or not luxurious enough, but for those who ever wished for more room will be delighted to know that this model has been stretched a generous 198 millimeters in case you ever have to schlepp any dignitaries 6”5 and over. Other that the palatial amount of space to stretch out and get comfortable in, this is an Autobiography trimmed example, so it has every conceivable comfort and convenience feature thrown in for good measure. You can’t have your passengers feeling like their slumming it, after all.

So this one’s an Autobiography, eh? Does that mean this Rangie wrote a book about its life story?

Uh, no. If the Range Rover were a gifted wordsmith, it may weave a captivating tale about life in the annals of the finest luxury accoutrements. The first chapters could set the stage of that lengthened wheelbase and the effortless comfort and seemingly endless space that goes along with it. It would segue into the highly capable air suspension, which squats so you can get into it with ease would also  mention providing sublime ride quality despite being shod with 22” wheels and low-profile tires. To keep readers on the edge of their seat, the equal parts demure and ferocious 5.0 litre supercharged V8 and 8-speed automatic would be cast in a sort of Jekyll and Hyde light- one minute your gliding along, the next minute you’re passing multiple cars in a two-lane highway surfing a wave of acoustic malevolence. It might wrap up by concluding that this just might be the ultimate family hauler, for those well heeled enough to not even remotely consider a minivan or a three-row crossover. It would deftly conclude by leaving the reader feeling the presence this thing has when it pulls up to curbs and everyone cranes their necks to gawk.

Inside, it looks like the VIP lounge at an exclusive club.

Actually, its decidedly nicer within the leather swaddled confines of our Range Rover than what you’d find in a vodka and Red Bull perfumed VIP area. Let’s start with the seats. Just look at them; you might be tempted to recline them and take a nap. They really are that comfortable- they come heated, cooled, and will knead your tush according to a massage program you design- and they are finished in semi-aniline leather that is as fragrant as it is supple. Those responsible for crafting the interior must really like the stuff because it’s everywhere- a massive swath of the stuff covers the substantial expanse of the headliner, broken up only by a huge panoramic sunroof. Those seated in the back seat will appreciate the large sized monitors for binge watching their favourite programs on long journeys, and those up front will breathe a sigh of relief that the infotainment system no longer threatens to give those using it a temper tantrum- it worked flawlessly throughout our time spent with the big Rangie. Speaking of getting your digital ducks in a row, the old low resolution electronic instrument panel has been turfed for one that is quite pleasing to look at- you can configure the display to show a huge version of the navigated route you’ve chosen on a map if you like. There are other touches that continue to make the Autobiography feel special, from the soft close doors to the banging 1700-watt Meridian Reference sound system.

Such a massive vehicle with a clear nod to prioritizing luxury means its driving experience would best be described as ‘nautical.’

On the contrary. Despite being fitted without a Dynamic Mode (basically, sport mode) switch familiar in other Range Rover products the stretched Autobiography can still cut a rug when the situation warrants. It is one of those vehicles that gives the principles of physics a stout middle finger, and you’ll understand what we mean the first time you throw it into a corner with earnest. Instead of plowing forward to leaning over far enough to scuff up its door handles, the massive brute just sticks and carves your intended line with minimal drama. It’s a true feat of engineering to get something this big and heavy with a suspension that ordinarily is smooth as glass but yet can acquit itself just fine through the twisty bits. We wouldn’t encourage you to track the thing, but the handling is truly impressive. Same thing goes for its off-roading abilities. It would be able to take you far off the beaten path no sweat, but we have reservations about taking a $160,000-plus rig into the bush. So, we know it acquits itself when the road isn’t straight, but when it is making short work of the distance between corners is Range Rover’s sweetheart of a supercharged V8. Its 510 horsepower and 461 pounds feet of torque aren’t fazed by the hefty weight whatsoever, and when you grab the shift paddles and ask for multiple downshifts it punts itself towards to the horizon with a pleasing urgency that never gets old.

What might go wrong?

Matting the throttle of that glorious engine will put quite a dent in the 105-litre tank rather quickly. Even driving around the city will demand you to keep an eye on the fuel gauge, although it should surprise exactly no one that something this large would have a rather large thirst for premium fuel. Usually we gripe about the laggy and convoluted infotainment system in this space, but there’s no grounds for complaint here because maybe, just maybe, the frustrating demons have been finally been exorcised. The only other complaint we have is the minor electronic idiosyncrasies that rise to the surface from time to time seem wholly out of place in a vehicle at this price point- for example, sometimes the rotary shifter would refuse to select the gear we were asking for. All things considered, our Autobiography is proof that Range Rover engineers are putting forth a genuine effort to fix these issues.

Should I buy a Range Rover Autobiography?

If you find yourself in the position of hating minivans and ubiquitous three row crossovers (which, lets face it, are basically minivans anyhow) and have a bank account awash in funds, you’ll buy the Range Rover Autobiography simply because there really isn’t anything else like it. You could make the case that the Cadillac Escalade, Mercedes Benz GL series and the unfortunately styled Infiniti QX80 are amongst its competitors, but none of those vehicles can even come close to matching the Rangie for opulence, space and off-road capability. The pragmatic voices within cry out that the price of admission for the Range Rover Autobiography is simply too steep, but hedonistic impulse drowns out that noise to point out how irresistible this super-lux SUV really is. Judging by the reaction of onlookers wherever we went, they would heartily agree.

 

2017 Range Rover Autobiography LWB – Specifications

  • Price as tested: $163,950
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger SUV
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/four-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Engine:  5.0 litre supercharged V8, DOHC, 32 valves
  • Horsepower:  510 @ 6,500 rpm
  • Torque (lbs-ft.): 461 @ 2,500 rpm
  • Curb weight: 2,413 kg (5,320 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel Consumption: 14.7L/100km (16 mpg)