Range Rover’s latest and greatest invention: the SEV (Sport Epitome Vehicle)

February 17, 2015, 6:36 PM UTC

One hallmark of a pinnacle luxury vehicle is that it inspires the feeling that you’ve arrived—long before you even turn the key. It’s one of the many superlative qualities the Range Rover Long Wheelbase exudes. When I first climbed up and onboard (diminutive, she’s not), what stood out was the impeccable craftsmanship; the tasteful mix of expensive materials; and novel touches like a rear-seat remote and mood lighting you can set to a dozen different colors. The combination left me feeling that I was better dressed just by sitting inside the grand cabin.

Land Rover’s flagship doesn’t just please in park, though. The model I drove was a Supercharged version—at $122,000 as tested, technically the cheapest of the LWB lineup (the Autobiography Black version starts at a breathtaking $185,995). There are nerve-calming dynamic capabilities, the pitch-perfect ride quality, and enough power from the 510-horsepower V8 to make you forget all other luxury SUVs. The steering is light yet direct—I was able to turn all 7,000 pounds with a finger.

Getting it to be so good isn’t easy: By my count, there are no less than 13 electronic ride-control systems, including Cornering Brake Control, Roll Stability Control and Trailer Stability Control (don’t want Black Beauty getting jostled on the way to the polo match!).

The company has also fitted the LWB with an 8-speed transmission and stop-start technology. The latter reminding me of the automotive equivalent of throat-clearing: a tick at lights that you grow to ignore.

Also annoying: the most sensitive parking sensors I’ve ever met (and loud until I figured out volume control). And the faux-useful door pockets in the rear—able to open wide enough to slip no more than a Centurion card into. My favorite: SWYW, the oddly un-intuitive acronym for Say What You Want, a system that allows you to navigate multiple functions by voice command.

Compared to the first Range Rover, which hit the scene in 1970, the LWB is in many ways its polar opposite: want vs. need, luxury vs. utility, brains and brawn vs. just brawn. Has it lost its way? No, no Range Rover is likely capable of that. I’d say it is, for now, leading the way—showing the likes of Maserati, Lamborghini, Bentley and Rolls-Royce that there are more than enough people interested in ultra-luxury boulder-crawlers.