2013 Land Rover Range Rover first drive review Page 3

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Fit for a king

The highway that arrows into Marrakesh is flat and uninteresting, and there's a rest stop with a gas station that looks just like the newer ones on the Ohio Turnpike. It's perfect: the long stretch of uninterrupted road lets us press the Range Rover up and over 100 mph, to get a better sense of the relatively soft-sprung ride and light, quick steering we'd felt on wetter turns earlier in the drive.

Still, we pay rapt attention to the first commandment offered up by the organizers: Morocco's drivers "will definitely not be checking their mirrors. Just...look out."

Over a few hundred kilometers, we stay alert, and swap off with back-seat stints that demonstrate exactly why this Range Rover is so different from the ones in the past. The cabin's opulent, but nowhere more so than in the back seat. The longer body grants more rear leg room--critical for more sales in places like China, not so critical for three rows of seats, which Land Rover says aren't quite right for a vehicle so posh. The space back there is enormous, limousine-like. A panoramic roof bathes it in light, and with the Meridian 29-speaker system, the back-seat passengers are shrouded in speakers, if not pounded into submission by bass, the system's weak point. The opulence extends to a new two-seat package that fits bucket chairs with heating, ventilation, recline and massage functions, even a cooler box between the seats, even DVD screens mounted in the headrests of the front seats.

The back seat tells the most important story of this new Range Rover. Land Rover's unapologetic about wanting more sales for its brand icon, and it's audaciously targeting some unexpected vehicles to get there. Think Flying Spur, Ghost, S Class as well as GL Class. To get there, it needed a larger back seat; to get that without getting too large or heavy, it needed lightweight construction.

That virtuous circle makes for one impressively capable luxury vehicle. One that's right as rain. We have the proof.

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