Few auto manufacturers have the experience with hard core off roading that Land Rover does. From safari to desert racing, Land Rover vehicles have seen it all. Along the way, LR staffers have been preparing drivers for the the challenges that lay ahead of them. Who better then to lay out the off road test course at the IMPA test days than Land Rover? After setting up the course, the LR contracted crew took us journos through a quick individual tour of the course. Once you had received a little white sticker on your pass that indicated you had a clue about off road driving, you were let loose on the trails.
The test tour took place in a Supercharged Range Rover Sport with all the toys, including high performance 45 series tires! My sloppy journalistic habits allowed me to forget my guides’ name, but he was a laid back, easy going guy who showed me the way around the trails. There were actually 3 trails, ranging from fairly hard core to cottage road. The trail began by climbing the center of a narrow ski hill, with deep drainage ruts up the middle. The cottage road avoided this. Turning into the woods, the route crossed a pair of rock gardens made up of a mixture of round and sharp rocks. Up another hill leads to a climb up a 5 foot high mound of rocks and dirt, where trucks climb up and over, dropping into a section of alternating potholes & mounds. This articulation section was the most popular spot for photographers during the day, as every truck would hang at least one wheel in the air along the way. The trail then led up a steep climb to a top ski lift tower hill & then an even steeper drop down the side of the hill. Some trucks without hill descent control were a bit scary here. Then, the cottage road and the off road trail met up for the final, gentle descent of the main ski hill.
Off Road Testing
People buy trucks and SUV’s for a variety of reasons, off road ability is usually not part of the equation for most consumers. They want to know that their truck can go off road, but likely will never go there themselves. In the interest of the consumer who actually do go off road, our upcoming off road tests will be about off road ability and nothing else. Is this a truck that the buyer would want to take off road?
Let the testing begin:
As I mentioned before, I didn’t actually drive the Range Rover in the photos, I rode shotgun. In other words, I can’t comment on the actual driving feel. Our guide did manage to scare the crap out of me on the drop zone from the ski lift tower. It really is steep and you can’t see where you will end up!
The only weak spot on the Rangie seems to be the 45 series tires. The LR guys were worried about cutting the soft sidewalls in the rock garden.
Other than the sidewall concerns, you would never know that this off road kingpin was shod in street performance tires. Had there been any mud, this would likely have been a different story. As there hadn’t been any rain in ages in the Poconos, we didn’t get the chance to find out.
If you have the budget, the Range Rover Sport may be the ultimate way to finesse your way through a trail. That said, the truck really is too nice for all this nonsense and would likely be better suited to dragging the kids up to your palace in the Muskokas.