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1997 Land Rover Range Rover REVIEW logo 4/4/2017

Con: Fuel economy, price

Pro: Off-road ability, rugged styling, luxurious interior

What’s New: The 4.0 SE gets three new exterior colors (Oxford Blue, Rioja Red and White Gold, all matched to Saddle leather interior), a HomeLink transmitter and jeweled wheel center caps. The 4.6 HSE gets three new exterior colors (British Racing Green, Monza Red and AA Yellow), one new interior color (Lightstone with contrasting piping) and a leather shift handle.

Review: Virtually unbeatable in both snob appeal and off-road talent, the Range Rover comes in two trim levels: 4.0 SE and 4.6 HSE. Both are the benefactors of new colors and fresh finishing touches for 1997.

In the 4.0 SE, an update of Land Rover's 4.0-liter aluminum V8 engine works in concert with a ZF four-speed automatic transmission, offering normal, sport, and manual shift programs. The 4.6 HSE comes equipped with a significantly stronger 4.6-liter V8 engine. Electronic traction control augments the permanent four-wheel-drive system. All-disc, all-terrain antilock braking is standard. So is a CD changer. This Range Rover 4.0 SE can tow 6,500 pounds on the highway, or 7,700 pounds in low range. Under the sheetmetal is a ladder-type chassis, plus an electronic air suspension system and beam axles. Rear trailing arms are made of lightweight composite material.

The Range Rover is loaded with standard equipment. That means leather and burled walnut in the interior, automatic climate control for the driver and front passenger (with micro-pollen filtration), 10-way adjustable heated front seats with memory preset, sunroof, 120-watt stereo--well, you get the idea. Dual airbags protect driver and passenger.

In addition to a stronger engine, the 4.6 HSE adds Pirelli 255/55HR18 tires, five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, mud flaps, a leather shifter, and a chrome exhaust.

With a 4.0 SE priced well past fifty thou', the Range Rover obviously isn't for everyone. The Land Rover company calls it the "world's most advanced sport utility," aimed at "discerning drivers and sportsmen." We won't argue with that description. Given a choice, we'd prefer something on the order of a Lexus LS400 for ordinary highway driving. Still, if a taste of off-roading lies in your future, and a run-of-the-mill sport-utility vehicle doesn't turn you on, what better way to blast into the bush than in a Range Rover? It's not a drive, it's an experience.


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