2004 Land Rover Range Rover Reviews and Ratings

Utility 4D 4.4 HSE 4WD

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2004 Land Rover Range Rover
Sue Mead

The Range Rover is the ultimate luxury sport-utility. After all, what other vehicle truly competes with the Range Rover? The Mercedes-Benz G-Class comes with notable 4x4 capability, but a utilitarian cabin and manners. The Lexus LX 470 and Toyota Land Cruiser are dated products. The Range Rover delivers legendary off-road prowess, a beautiful cabin that will coddle you, and all the latest in safety features.

The Range Rover was completely redesigned for 2003, only the third time that Land Rover has returned to a clean sheet of paper since the first Range Rover debuted in 1970. Compared to earlier Range Rovers, the current model is quicker and more agile. Yet it retains its Land Rover pedigree for traversing the backcountry, featuring the latest in off-road technology and luxury appointments.

BMW was heavily involved in the design and engineering of the current model, and its expertise is clearly evident. BMW owned Land Rover briefly, and helped develop the current Range Rover, then sold Land Rover to Ford. Land Rover is now part of Ford's Aston Martin Jaguar Land Rover North America division headquartered in Irvine, California.

Exemplary service is part of the Range Rover experience. Customers are typically highly satisfied with their Land Rover retailers who pride themselves with taking care of their customers. The Land Rover Centres act as off-road outfitters that carry accessories and apparel and organize outings. Land Rover's four-year/50,000 mile warranty includes roadside assistance and free scheduled maintenance.

Changes to the Range Rover are minimal for 2004, and consist mainly of a new interior package and a super-exclusive Westminster limited-edition model, of which only about 300 will be built. Model Lineup
The 2004 Range Rover is available only as a single, fully equipped LSE model ($71,585), with the exception of the Westminster Limited Edition. The Range Rover is powered by BMW's 4.4-liter V8 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. It features a permanent four-wheel-drive system with a two-speed transfer case and Torsen center differential, all-terrain traction and stability control, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS.

Standard amenities include three-zone climate control, a 10-way power driver's seat, GPS navigation, and a Harman/Kardon digital surround-sound system with six-disc CD changer and a hidden cassette player. And those are only the highlights.

Options are limited. The Heated Accessories Package ($1300) includes dual-level heated front and rear seats; a heated, multi-function, leather-wrapped steering wheel; and an integrated ski bag. New for 2004 is the Luxury Interior Package ($5,000), which includes everything in the Heated Accessories Package, plus Contour seats with 14-way adjustment and memory for the driver; and additional leather on the seats, door pulls, grab handles, center console lid and upper dashboard.

The limited-edition Westminster package ($12,415) includes everything in the Luxury Interior package, plus Rain Sensor automatic windshield wipers, unique Java Black pearlescent paint, a Jet Black interior with Ivory accents, and 20-inch bright-finish aluminum wheels shod with 255/50 V-rated all-terrain tires. Only 300 will be built. Walkaround
The Range Rover cuts a distinct profile. Though all-new just last year (2003), it is instantly recognizable as a Range Rover. Its contours are smooth and taut, with just enough curvature to suggest substance and strength. Compared to less exclusive, but more conspicuously massive SUVs, the Range Rover looks trim, muscular, and athletic, like a formidable middleweight fighter next to a costumed television wrestler.

This newest Range Rover is taller, wider, longer, and higher off the ground than pre-2003 models. It's more than 5 inches longer in wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear tires) and nearly 4 inches wider in track (the distance between the right and left tires). It provides an amazing 11 inches of ground clearance. Though many of its body panels are formed from costly aluminum to keep the weight down, it still weighs nearly 5400 pounds, 400 pounds more than its predecessor.

The front end is strong and horizontal, capped by Range Rover's trademark clamshell hood. High-tech headlamps (with power washers) wrap around at the corners. Punctuating the bumper are two serious-looking round ports and a long, horizontal slot, all feeding air to the engine. Taillights echo the futuristic look of the front.

Viewed from the side, the latest Range Rover features a high beltline and a flat expanse of sleek metal dramatically slashed by Brunel-finish louvers that extract air from the back of the engine bay.

Underneath the skin is a steel monocoque structure with an integrated chassis that increases torsional stiffness by 32 percent over pre-2003 models. Increased body rigidity improves ride and handling and gives the Range Rover the ability to tow, haul and tote just about anything on or off road. Interior
The 2004 Range Rover features a cavernous interior. Longtime admirers will not be surprised by a host of luxurious amenities, but some Range Rover loyalists may be surprised by the austere, straight lines of this latest design. Still, the interior is light and airy, with styling cues coming from ocean-going yachts and first-class jetliner seating, as well as fine furniture and jewelry.

Flat panels dominate the dash, with a discrete metal finish used for detailing around the instruments and controls. An in-dash LCD array displays essential vehicle information. A navigation system is standard and is designed for both on- and off-road navigation. Four cup holders are adjustable and accommodate many different sizes of bottles and cans. A premium Harman/Kardon 15-speaker surround-sound system comes standard equipment along with a power glass sunroof.

There is more head- and legroom than in earlier models. Seats are big and comfortable, with adequate side bolstering and lumbar support. Headrests are comfortable. Rear seats have split powered backrests.

There's plenty of room for gear. The tailgate was designed to support the weight of two adults, making the Range Rover a perfect vehicle for tailgate parties. The cargo area is longer and taller than in earlier models. The rear seats are split 60/40 for versatility when moving cargo and people. Luggage hooks on the floor of the cargo area are designed to keep items secure. A full-size spare tire is stored in a well under the cargo floor.

Four standard interior color schemes are offered: Aspen/Ivory, Jet/Charcoal, Navy/Parchment, and Jet/Sand. All include contrasting piping on the seats, and a choice of traditional walnut burl trim or avant-garde cherry.

In the Westminster edition, the powered driver's seat adjusts 14 ways, the front passenger's seat 12 ways. Both front and rear seats have two-level electric heating; even the steering wheel is electrically warmed. Interior leather is Jet Black, matching the pearlescent black exterior. The wood trim is grand piano-grade ebony. The only things on the Westminster that aren't Jet Black are the headliner and grab handles, which are ivory.

Safety equipment in all Range Rovers is comprehensive. Eight airbags come standard: front, side, and head airbags for driver and front-seat passenger, as well as head airbags for rear outboard passengers. Security is also a high priority, which means deadlocks and an ultrasonic alarm system. A panic button activates locks for extra security against attacks. Driving Impressions
The 2004 Range Rover builds on its legendary off-road capability, but with vastly improved handling on the road.

Our test vehicle handled a 200-mile trek on narrow, winding lanes in Scotland with the poise of a sheep dog, dodging and darting with the utmost steadiness. It handled Los Angeles equally well. In sharp contrast to the previous Range Rover, the current model exhibits relatively little body roll (lean) in corners.

The Range Rover's superb balance of ride and handling are the result of a highly refined and interconnected air suspension that allows softer spring rates for enhanced comfort. The system also allows the driver to manually lower the ride height, making it easier for passengers to get in and out, a nice feature for shorter, older passengers. An Access setting can be pre-selected so the body lowers to the desired height as the Range Rover rolls to a stop; this is more convenient than pressing the button after you put it in Park as passengers seldom have the patience to wait for it to do its thing.

BMW's smooth and powerful 4.4-liter V8 delivers far greater power than the old 4.6-liter Rover engine. Output has been increased to 282 horsepower at 5400 rpm. Torque is up 10 percent to 325 pounds-feet at 3600 rpm.

This gives the 2004 Range Rover much quicker performance, allowing it to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 9 seconds, with top speed electronically limited to 122 mph. Emissions have been reduced and fuel efficiency has been improved slightly over the previous-generation to an EPA-estimated 12/17 mpg City/Highway.

The V8 is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission featuring CommandShift, one of the newest manual override systems in the luxury market. In the Range Rover, CommandShift can operate in both the high and low ranges of the transfer case for use on or off road.

Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are backed by electronic Brake Assist, which applies full braking force in a panic stop even if the driver mistakenly relaxes brake pedal pressure, and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), which helps reduce stopping distances by balancing braking forces front to rear.

The Range Rover is also equipped with Ford's Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system, which helps drivers stay on their intended course by preventing a skid. This electronic stability control system helps maintain vehicle stability at the limits of tire adhesion via a combination of yaw rate sensors, the antilock brake system, and the traction control system. When required, the system applies the brakes at one or more wheels to correct excessive yaw. For example, if the rear tires lose grip in a corner, a situation called oversteer can occur that can ultimately lead to spinning off the road; the system senses this happening and applies the brake on the outside front wheel to rotate the vehicle back onto the desired path. The driver need only steer where he wants to go.

Yet, while it's clear that the biggest improvement over pre-2003 models has been made in on-road handling, the Range Rover's off-road prowess has been significantly upgraded as well, as we discovered on some of Scotland's rugged off-road tracks. Increased ground clearance (11.1 inches), a sharper angle of approach (32 degrees), and a much stiffer chassis made negotiating Scotland's muddy, rutted backcountry a breeze. The latest Range Rover boasts the slowest low-range crawl speed in the industry: just 2.4 mph at 1000 rpm, good for traversing the world's worst terrain. Its gearing is the lowest in its class.

The transfer case can be switched between low and high range on the fly, at speeds up to 30 mph, eliminating the need to stop in the middle of a mud bog to change gearing. Additionally, advanced electronics provide for a dual-range throttle with on- and off-road calibrations. That makes for quicker throttle response on the road, while allowing precise throttle adjustments in extreme off-road situations.

Trails can be blazed with more confidence thanks to an undercarriage protection system that includes a plastic skid shield and Kevlar engine protection. Off-road traction control allows drivers to tread lightly by minimizing wheel spin, and therefore trail damage, while off the beaten path.

Towing capability also commands respect. The 2004 Range Rover can tow a two-horse trailer or a large powerboat: up to 7700 pounds, with a 550-pound tongue weight. Summary
The 2004 Range Rover raises the bar for style, prestige, luxury, and capability in a high-dollar SUV. Boasting a monocoque body with integrated chassis, all-independent suspension and five-speed automatic transmission along with Land Rover's legendary four-wheel drive, the Range Rover will take you anywhere, from the Sahara to the South Pole.

The Range Rover offers style and pedigree, something the Lexus LX 470 does not have. It offers off-road capability and cargo space that BMW X5 drivers can only dream about. And it'll run circles around the Mercedes-Benz G500 on a paved road.

In short, this latest Range Rover lives up to its reputation as the standard to which other SUVs aspire. It is a pleasure to drive and it's easy on the eyes. For many, it truly is the SUV champion of the world.

Model as tested
Range Rover ($71,585)
Basic Warranty
4 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in
Solihull, England
Destination charge
Gas guzzler tax
Base Price
Price as tested
Options as tested

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Range Rover ($71,585)
Safety equipment (standard)
front, side and head airbags for driver and front-seat passenger, head airbags for rear seat outboard passengers, front seat belt pre-tensioners, child seat tethers and anchors, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, traction control, Hill Descent Control
Safety equipment (optional)
4.4-liter DOHC 32-valve V8
5-speed automatic with CommandShift

Specifications as Tested
leather upholstery, power seats, power windows, power locks, power sunroof, heated front windshield, security system with deadlocks, in-dash driver information LCD display, Harman/Kardon 15-speaker surround sound system, bi-xenon headlamps

Engine & Transmission
4.4-liter DOHC 32-valve V8
Drivetrain type
four-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
282 @ 5400
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)

Brakes, front/rear
ventilated disc/solid disc with ABS, EBD and Brake Assist
Suspension, front
independent, MacPherson struts with electronically controlled, interconnected air springs
255/55HR19 mud & snow
Suspension, rear
independent, double-wishbone with electronically controlled, interconnected air springs

Seating capacity
Head/hip/leg room, middle
Head/hip/leg room, front
Head/hip/leg room, rear

Fuel capacity
Trunk volume
Turning circle
Towing capacity
Track, front/rear
Ground clearance
Curb weight

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