The all-new Land Rover Range Rover certainly has its share of impressive and startling features — not the least of which is its starting price of above $100,000. Arguably, however, the most striking element of the new SUV is its overall design — which, while markedly updated, is still unmistakably familiar.
This is the fifth generation of Land Rover's top-of-the-line offering, and while the Rangie has maintained a general shape over the past 50 years, its raison d'etre has shifted drastically. First introduced as a utility vehicle with luxury drizzled over top like icing, the Range Rover's strong off-road credentials have become a foregone conclusion; these days, with each subsequent generation, the brand has concentrated more heavily on premium appointments, advanced tech, and design to match.
This time around, design updates have resulted in striking, almost avante garde looks. While the 2022 Range Rover of course carries the luxury torch, packing plush interiors and top-tier tech, its sheet metal is certainly the star of this fifth-gen show. The overall Range Rover shape is still unmistakable in this latest version, but the design updates are plentiful as its form pushes boundaries of the minimal and futuristic.
We spoke to Gerry McGovern, chief creative officer of Jaguar Land Rover, about the 2022 Range Rover design, from his "reductionist" approach, modernism, and when form should–and shouldn't–follow function. That interview is below; first, however, comes an overview of the 2022 Range Rover's biggest updates.
The new Range Rover: the powertrains
Powertrain options in the 2022 Range Rover include a new 523-horsepower twin-turbo V8 by BMW; it'll push the SUV from 0 to 60 mph in a claimed 4.4 seconds. There's also a mild hybrid turbocharged inline-six setup at launch; a plug-in hybrid with 434 horsepower and 62 miles of all-electric range will join the lineup in the 2023 model year. In 2024 we'll see a fully electric Ranger Rover bow.
The new Range Rover: the chassis
A new "body architecture" called MLA-Flex provides the platform for the new Range Rover and all its variants, including standard and long wheelbase models, which can be configured in four-, five- and seven-seat configurations. The seven-seat/three-row option is new to the Range Rover lineup, and available only on long wheelbase models.
Land Rover is introducing a system called Chassis Control to the Range Rover as well. This technology suite oversees the MLA-Flex architecture and other mechanical and tech elements to control the driving experience; Land Rover calls this a "mechatronic ecosystem," which admittedly sounds more like the sort of environment you'd find on Cybertron.
As expected, the 2022 Range Rover is laden with off-road prowess; supplementing those chops is a suite of on-road performance kit, as well. An electronic air suspension system works in tandem with technology called eHorizon to automatically adjust suspension settings as road conditions change. All-wheel steering is standard on all models, providing improved maneuverability at low speed and more stability at highway speeds; the rear axle will pivot up to seven degrees either in tandem with or opposed to the direction of the front wheels.
The new Range Rover: the tech
Land Rover has added noise-cancelling features to the Range Rover's tech arsenal. In the name of a quieter, more serene cabin atmosphere, speakers use that noise-cancelling capability to eliminate unwanted ambient noise– "wheel vibrations, tire noise and engine sounds"– while floating down the road. This tech is part of a new Meridian Signature Sound System. Additional luxury tech includes available power assisted doors (starting 2023) with integrated safety features ("anti-pinch," for example), and can be opened via the infotainment controls "at angles of up to 10 degrees while off-road," presumably when you want to make a dramatic exit out on the trails.
New Range Rovers will feature integrated Alexa tech from Amazon, and an available 13.1-inch infotainment touchscreen that's designed to appear as though "floating" in the cabin. Also "floating" in the new Range Rover: a 13.7-inch instrument panel with all sorts of digital configurations for necessary information.
The new Range Rover: personalization
The SV version of the 2022 Range Rover is available for customers who want to personalize their SUV, and offers a plethora of options of elements that can be modified. SV models (both standard and long wheelbase) will feature ceramic "SV Roundel" emblems to indicate provenance, and two pre-configured design themes. Special materials are on offer for SV customers, including ceramic trim elements, "mosaic marquetry" and "sustainable non-leather Ultrafabrics."
The new Range Rover model lineup
Base Range Rover models are called SE: SE models with the mild-hybrid I6 power plant start at $104,000; the long wheelbase (LWB) seven-seat SE starts at $110,000. Upgrade to the V8 and starting prices rise to $118,700 (SE) and $124,700 (SE LWB).
The rest of the current lineup features only the V8. Those models are: Autobiography ($152,000), Autobiography LWB seven-seat ($154,000), Autobiography LWB ($156,000), First Edition ($158,200), and First Edition LWB ($163,500).
An interview with Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern
After a couple of presentations about the 2022 Range Rover's capability, technology, and luxury, we had a brief chat with Gerry McGovern, who opined about modernist design in the automotive space, and then walked us around the new SUV to highlight some of the most striking new design cues.
Editor's note: The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
GP: As vehicles continue to become increasingly more complex in terms of added physical technology and meeting government regulations, how challenging is it to maintain extreme simplicity in design?
Gerry McGovern: That is a big challenge. Because engineers naturally want to add more stuff in to demonstrate their expertise and the technology. And there is a lot of technology in the vehicle, but the way to do it is in a way that it's not in your face all the time. It's there if you want to use it. In terms of the overall aesthetic, it's not about adding more stuff in; it's about taking it out. But when you expose something it has to be nice quality.
The new design is beautiful. It's almost Bauhaus in its simplicity.
GM: I don't like using the word "beautiful." It's as much about what you don't do as what you do do. It's about curation, about curating it.
Not every consumer is a modernist. That's not to say they don't go for that reductive approach, but you can go too far with it. That's why I say "it's not minimal" — the interior of a Tesla is so reductive that it doesn't look expensive, doesn't look like anything. It's all a balance.
How much of your personal style and personal style philosophy comes through in this Range Rover, and in Land Rover design?
GM: I suppose the thing that's the strongest element is this preoccupation with modernism, which I truly believe is [integral to Land Rover] — and it's something that other brands haven't embraced maybe because [for] other brands, design doesn't really sit at the top of the pile. You can see it in the way vehicles are designed; [they'll have] proportions that aren't correct because the wrong decisions have been made at a conceptual stage.
Having said that, I live in a modernist house, not a traditional house. And all the stuff in it is modern, or different periods of modern. But I am quite eclectic, although I, you know, as time has gone on, have taken stuff out...even the way I dress now isn't quite as eclectic as it used to be.
So the new Range Rover is a reductionist design. Other brands seem to go in the other direction. Almost maximalist, in a way.
GM: It's interesting you use the word maximalist because I've been doing these studies as part of the role I've been asked to do in terms of developing the business: informing them what [design] means to our brand. When you actually look at modernism, there's many forms of it — organic modernism to desert modern to brutalist — and there are two extremes if it: minimalist…and maximalist.
But for us, it's about getting the right balance. I read quite often "Land Rover or Range Rover's minimalist…" But it isn't highly decorative and it's not excessive.
[Mr. McGovern walked me toward one of the new Range Rovers on display, and stops us off the vehicle's right rear flank so that we're looking down the side toward the front bumper area.]
Look at that minimal front overhang. The more you look at it…it's incredibly sophisticated, complex surface development. And you can only make that work if you're reductive in your surfaces. Getting that level of precision in the line work–designers always want to put more on, more on, more on. Take it off!
So the strategy is to make the 'one line' beautiful?
Yeah, well just make it work. It's that simplicity. It's like some cartoonists, who are brilliant and can capture what somebody looks like with just a couple of lines. That's what we're trying to get.
[The Range Rover lines aren't] informed by 'form follows function,' either. Because you'd never wind up with a car like [this]. Because at the rear you'd maximize the interior [by squaring it off]. But [the body panels around the wheel well] pull in, exposes the tire, which is its "bicep" if you like.
[Mr. McGovern gestures toward the Range Rover's rear cargo area, and with his hands draws a boxy shape in the air around the SUV's curving rear haunches.]
And if you were maximizing the space in here, we'd have the corners out here and lose that look.
That's the difference of what's happened at Land Rover: we've gone through a culture change. They always looked the way they did because of what they did. They were 'form follows function.'
[We] don't need to want to be loved by everybody. We need to represent something. Hold the line, stick with it, and just evolve. Don't worry about not being liked by everyone. I'd rather have a view than be the same as everybody else.