The 2016 Range Rover SVAutobiography LWB Is Pure Luxury—And Lots of It
Between cool tech upgrades like a killer heads-up display, high-quality materials inside and out, and leaving no detail unconsidered, the Autobiography SV belongs in the "ultra-luxury" category befitting its $200,000 price tag.
- Test Drives
2016 RANGE ROVER SVAUTOBIOGRAPHY LWB
WHAT THE HELL IS IT?
The tippy-top of the Land Rover’s offerings, an absolutely stunning variation of the Range Rover line that’s tricked out from head to toe, under the hood, and in the cabin.
WHO IS IT FOR?
A jillionaire who’s not sure if he wants to tackle the wildest of off-roads, or be chauffeured around metropolitan streets.
WHERE DID WE TEST IT?
Everywhere. Over the course of a long skiing weekend, we put the Range through the paces: on the mean streets of NYC; in the hellish traffic of Brooklyn’s BQE; along long stretches of Connecticut’s winding country highways; and, of course, atop the lofty mountain passes of Vermont to our final destination of Mt. Snow. And then back again.
THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE
The details. A quick sweep around the body of the car shows more trim and attention to the small stuff than any other Range Rover. It’s immediately noticeable that there’s something special about this edition, from the carbon fiber nameplate on the hood to the USB port on the fold-out rear tables.
THING THEY DIDN’T WANT YOU TO NOTICE, BUT YOU DO ANYWAY
The built-in nav system is awful. Right off the bat the Range automatically chose a route nearly two hours longer than Waze’s. In a vehicle this luxurious—and it really does deserve an ultra-lux designation—having something as integral as the navigation be so obviously piss-poor might be a deal-breaker for the high rollers who are considering picking up this beast.
CAR IS GOOD AT
Making its passengers extremely comfortable. Basking in the leather and wood interior felt like riding on a private jet. Our passengers marveled at every element of the back seat, from the dual captain seats to the punched out entertainment screens (with wireless headsets stored in the armrest), the refrigerated cup-holders with bottle storage, the automated fold-out armrests, and reclining, massaging chairs. While the rear seats are certainly the culmination of the Autobiography Range’s best features, the driver seat was far from spartan, making driving comfortable, but not overly soporific. From that driver seat, we had extensive control of every element of the Range. Toggles to open the double-long moonroof, adjust rear seating, input for nav, change music, and more were never beyond an arm’s length away.
Luxurious interior aside, the myriad options for adjusting the way the car drove turned out to be impressive and useful. Full disclosure: we didn’t get to test out the “Desert” setting on the snowy mountain roads of West [f500link]Dover[/f500link], Vermont. That said, the moment we did see snow, we both throttled and braked hard to see how the Range would handle the conditions (as per our usual routine). In the fully-automatic default mode, fishtailing and skidding were immediate. However, once we ran that same routine with the Range in “Snow Mode” the car locked itself in place, stayed straight during quick acceleration, hugged curves like a rally car, and gave consistent pickup without slippage when we tagged the accelerator. It actually made us want to test out that Desert setting, but we couldn’t imagine Land Rover being happy with us driving 2,000 miles out of the way for some sandy burnouts in New Mexico. But it’s definitely on the agenda.
CAR IS BAD AT
Did we mention the nav was bad? Maybe it’s our own fault for reading up on the Autobiography SV before we drove it, which pushed our expectations of the multi-touch enabled HUD higher than they should have been. Still, for a vehicle with cellular internet, state-of-the-art accoutrements everywhere else, and a price tag north of $200K, we expected better in this department. Compared to that, the rest of our gripes all feel nitpicky. The trunk space wasn’t small but it also wasn’t big enough to fit a snowboard because the incredible rear seats don’t fold down. That meant carefully laying down towels to angle the board to fit. Maybe owning the car would give us amore carefree attitude toward maintaining the interior but, as long as it’s a loaner ... towels do the trick.
Finally—and, yes, we’re aware this is a heavy-ass SUV—the Range’s pickup left something to be desired. Stabbing the gas did automatically downshift the car for better acceleration (or you can drop it yourself with the paddle shifters) but it was also accompanied by a momentary hiccup before our commands hit the drive train, and that hiccup made for some awkward roll outs, leaving us scratching our heads. Did the car get the message that we wanted to move faster now? Mind you, this was only a symptom when starting from a stop or idle; this Range had absolutely no issue in the 60-100 mph range, but the awkward stutter of the accelerator was definitely felt when testing out the 0-60 mph section.
RATE 1 (VERY POOR) TO 5 (EXCELLENT)
HAULING PEOPLE: 4
HAULING STUFF: 3
CURB APPEAL: 5
“WOW” FACTOR: 5
WOULD YOU BUY IT?
Sure, presuming we didn’t have anything more pressing that cost $200,490, plus tax. That is to say, this is not the car anyone dreams of winning the lottery to buy. That honor is more likely to go to a Lamborghini or a custom Porsche or maybe a Bentley GTC. The Range Rover Autobiography SV is more likely to be the third car you’d buy after winning that mega millions, the one you scoop up when you realize that understated hyper-luxury and comfort is now attainable, that class trumps swagger, and that a G-Wagen will never be as sweet of a ride as this.
When your wife busts up her knee on the mountain (should’ve pizza’d when she french-fried) the ability to shift the front passenger seat forward from the rear seat, plus the rear footrest, were absolutely clutch. The Range Rover also set the standard for us in terms of heated steering wheels—a welcome perk in the sub-freezing temperatures of January in Vermont. The thing heats up faster than we could have imagined. Land Rover is also integrating smartphone app functionality, like many other carmakers, and it was especially appreciated when we were able to both remotely start the car AND locate it in the labyrinthine parking lot of Mt. Snow. The biggest surprise might have been how much we liked and appreciated the holographic display that projected on the driver's-side windshield information about speed, next nav direction, and other key stats. Range Rover hasn’t quite pioneered this tech, but their implementation is leagues ahead of similar units we've tried in both BMW and Lexus.
PRICE AS TESTED: $200,490 (includes delivery)
POWERTRAIN: 5.0L, 550-hp supercharged V8; 8-speed automatic with full-time four-wheel-drive.
FUEL ECONOMY: 14 mpg city / 19 mpg highway
HEADS TURNED WHEN WE PULLED UP THE MOUNTAIN: At least a dozen.