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Today, luxury SUVs are practically everywhere, but the 2008 Land Rover Range Rover maintains the iconic brand's original formula of off-road superiority while also benefiting from all the usual refinements of a modern luxury vehicle. Officially, this SUV may be called the Land Rover Range Rover, but nobody really says that -- it simply is the one and only Range Rover.
When the current model was being designed, Land Rover was owned by BMW, and this Range Rover retains its Bavarian-engineered roots. That translates into a vehicle that handles and rides far better than one would expect from a top-heavy SUV. It's certainly not focused on sporting dynamics like a Porsche Cayenne, but its on-road capabilities are pretty impressive, considering it can crawl down a flight of stairs or caravan to Outer Mongolia.
For such extreme excursions, every Range Rover comes equipped with an air suspension, and with it the vehicle's ride height can be raised and lowered either automatically or via a console-mounted switch. Furthermore, Land Rover's automatically sets powertrain, suspension and electronic systems to optimize traction based on five different settings: general, grass/gravel/snow, mud/ruts, sand and rock crawl.
If you're looking for a premium SUV with excellent off-road credentials and a legendary pedigree, buying a 2008 Range Rover is a no-brainer. However, all its sophisticated hardware may be overkill if the wildest place you intend to venture is a nightclub valet stand. As such, the Cayenne, BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GL550 or Lexus LX 570 are more appropriate for the majority of buyers in this segment. Not only do they typically cost less, they also provide considerably superior reliability.
2008 Land Rover Range Rover models
The 2008 Land Rover Range Rover is a luxury SUV available in two trims: HSE and Supercharged. The HSE is equipped with 19-inch wheels, an adjustable air suspension, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, xenon headlights, a sunroof, tri-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery and 12-way driver and 10-way passenger power-adjustable front seats. Bluetooth, a navigation system with "bread crumb" off-road tracking and a 14-speaker Harman Kardon Logic7 stereo with six-CD changer, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack are also standard.
Aside from its more powerful V8, the Supercharged trim adds 20-inch wheels, an electronically locking rear differential, adaptive headlights, upgraded leather upholstery and ventilated 14-way power front seats. These features are all optional on the HSE. Available on both trims is a rear-seat entertainment system that includes a six-DVD changer and two LCD screens mounted in the front headrests.
After significant updates last year, Land Rover's Range Rover receives only minor interior detail changes for 2008.
Performance & mpg
The Range Rover HSE gets a 4.4-liter V8 with 305 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, while the Supercharged accordingly gets a supercharged 4.2-liter mill that boasts 400 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission is a six-speed automatic that features a sequential-shift manual mode. Maximum towing capacity stands at 7,700 pounds. A permanent four-wheel-drive system is standard, along with low-range gearing and a maximum of nearly 11 inches of ground clearance for serious off-roading. Range Rovers also come with a that allows the driver to customize powertrain, suspension and electronic systems to best handle various off-road conditions. Both engines have a 2008 EPA fuel economy estimate of 12 mpg city/18 mpg highway.
Standard safety items on this 2008 Land Rover Range Rover include antilock disc brakes (more powerful Brembo brakes are fitted to the Supercharged model), brake assist, stability control and hill descent control. Side airbags for front occupants, full-length side curtain airbags, a driver's knee airbag and front and rear parking sensors with a rearview camera are also standard.
Built for the bush but bought for bragging rights, Range Rovers are more likely to be found in Beverly Hills than Botswana. Acknowledging that reality, the current Range Rover employs a unibody design and has a self-adjusting air suspension that monitors vehicle loads and road conditions. When driven on pavement, the Range Rover feels stable and comfortable, with good steering feel -- a tribute to its BMW origins. In terms of off-road ability, it still has few equals, thanks to its generous ground clearance and wheel articulation.
Inside, the 2008 Range Rover's unique and handsomely rugged personality comes through, as it has the upscale ambience of a luxury sedan along with the rugged feel of a serious off-road vehicle. Most materials are premium-grade, and buyers have a choice of cherry or walnut wood accents. Controls are very button-heavy, though, and in fine British tradition, ergonomics can be a tad befuddling. The seating position is notably upright, but both front and rear passengers will find the accommodations supportive and roomy. Rear-seaters get their own climate controls and power-adjustable headrests. The Range Rover offers 74 cubic feet of cargo capacity.