The Land Rover Experience Driving School
Land Rover flew me and a companion out, fed us well and put us up at the Inn on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina while attending the Land Rover Driving Experience.
The Land Rover Experience
Rolling up to the first leaf-strewn, rain-slick red clay North Carolina hillside, I'm thinking to myself, "There's no way this suburban utility vehicle is making it up that slope. It'd take a few passes to get it right in a full-fledged Jeep. This leather-and-walnut luxury car on stilts doesn't have a chance." But I'm wrong. After getting the driver’s (…err, my) head around the idea, the Range Rover just walks right up, stock tires and all.
And I was proven even more thoroughly wrong as the day wore on. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The day started with a few hours on the road, driving each of the four vehicles our small group of journalists would be taking to the trails in the afternoon.
The Land Rover Experience is what the company calls an immersive induction into Land Rover culture and driving techniques. Following the “expedition” style of off-roading--that is, you can’t go anywhere if your equipment is broken, so drive carefully--and instilling proper use of the vehicle from engaging the parking brake to pushing a bow wave to “wiggling” the wheel to shift weight and gain traction on a slick ascent, the guys in the passenger seat have a wealth of knowledge and experience to help just about any driver get the most out of the vehicle.
Hitting the asphalt in the morning, all four of the vehicles proved themselves worthy of their status among the suburban elite: comfortable, quiet and capable around town, they offer a strong combination of room for five, good seating position and outward visibility, paying a price only in fuel efficiency, which sits around 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway for most models. Whether on the freeway, in town, or out on gravel paths, the vehicles all proved calm and stable--and the Sports lived up to their monikers with a more nimble and flat-cornering feel than the Range Rover or LR4.