Range Rover Generations: The origins of off-road luxury
Range Rover Gen 1: 1970 - 1994
On sale for an astonishing 25 years of service, the first generation Range Rover redefined the game regarding what people thought of off-roaders. While there were some like the Jeep Wagoneer that were more focused on luxury than off-roading ability, there were none that could combine the elegance and luxury with the sheer capability and reliability of a Range Rover. It introduced many features that continue to live on as Range Rover traits, such as a split tailgate. It was the first vehicle with permanent four-wheel-drive and an interior that could be hosed down, signalling its go-anywhere intentions. It was widely used as a service vehicle as well. Fun fact: the first prototype in 1969 was called the Range Rover Velar!
When first introduced, the Range Rover only came in a three-door body style, with the five-door being offered only in 1988.
Range Rover Gen 2: 1994 - 2001
The second generation Range Rover gets its most identifiable claim to fame from being the personal car of the Queen of England. The vehicle has accompanied Her Majesty everywhere: from royal engagements abroad to trips down to her farm and hunting. The regal nature of the second generation extended as all the aspects that defined the original were made better, and even more luxury slapped on top of it. The design direction found sure footing so that every Range Rover has had a familial resemblance and is instantly recognisable since then. It is also in the opinion of the writer, the most beautiful Range Rover yet.
Under the ladder frame chassis, the carmaker installed live axles both front and rear, with coil-springs all-around. A pneumatic system was fitted as an option later on, and that helped the car get better attack and fording numbers. Land Rover installed an all-wheel-drive system with a locking center differential and a low-range gear.
Range Rover Gen 3: 2001 - 2012
Range Rovers have extraordinary lifespans considering most other SUVs in the industry, and the third one was no exception. In its almost 12 years of service, the third generation established itself as a benchmark in the uber-luxurious ultra-capable SUV game, especially with the rise of the SUV genre itself as well as the introduction of new models in the Range Rover line, such as the Range Rover Sport and Evoque, both smaller and more accessible entry points to the now blooming and established Range Rover family. It was also the first proper one made under BMW ownership, and so had both the German brand’s famous quality as well as its quirks. Sharing a lot with the BMW 7-Series, the Range Rover slowly moved upmarket.
Under the hood, BMW installed 3.0-liter diesel engine before it sold the Land Rover company to Ford. The blue-oval brand was stuck with the German engines until 2006, when it replaced-it with their 3.6-liter V-8 diesel unit. For the gasoline versions, the Range Rover started with the BMW 4.4-liter V-8 used on the X5, but after 2006 Ford installed Jaguar's 4.2-liter units.
Range Rover Gen 4: 2012 - 2022
An Indian Range Rover! Could it be? We might be being overly enthusiastic here, but the first Range Rover made under Tata ownership was the fourth generation, and it became a definitive icon of the 2010s as no other SUV could perform on-road as well as it could off-road. With aluminium construction for the first time in the industry, helping it lose more than 450kg to the previous generation, as well as hybrid and more electrification, the Range Rover started becoming a pathfinder in the luxury-SUV segment. Models like the SVR with its 5-litre supercharged V8 and the luxurious Autobiography also enhanced its capabilities in terms of performance and luxury to where no other Range Rover had gone before. This generation also saw the introduction of the Range Rover Velar, a completely new model placed below the Range Rover Sport that served as another entry point to the brand.
Range Rover Gen 5: 2022 - present
The fifth generation Range Rover was introduced to the world with gasps of disbelief. Not because of some radical change from what Range Rovers have always been, but of how futuristic it looked. With flushed lights front and rear, an enormous glass roof, modern design touches allied to an unmistakably Range Rover family resemblance, the new model seemed just the right thing for our futuristic market today. Launched outright with heavily electrified hybrid variants, it will become the first all-electric Range Rover in 2024, heralding the entry of the brand into a new age. BMW also returned as a partner, offering powertrain and electrification options. Among its peers even today, the Range Rover sits alone at the top. Like the Mercedes S-Class, it is not disingenuous to say that what you see in a Range Rover today, you will see in new SUVs five years down the line. An icon, and one that has remained so for more than half a century.