To cost a quarter of a million dollars, a vehicle must be pretty special. The new Range Rover SV Wheelbase Serenity ticks off all the luxury boxes, according to our automotive enthusiast expert, Michael Satterfield, of The Gentleman Racer.com.
Photography by Lucas Kepner
It is hard to think of a situation where anyone really needs a $250,000 luxury SUV, but like many things, the Range Rover SV Long Wheelbase Serenity isn’t built to satisfy a need. It is built to satisfy a desire. Considering that for the price of this one SV, you can buy two base Range Rovers and still have enough left over to pick up a BMW 2 Series convertible for the weekends, that desire must be quite strong.
We all know that everyone has a luxury SUV these days, Lexus, BMW, etc. You can even get a Hyundai Palisade Calligraphy with Napa leather, rear window sunshades, remote smart parking, and all the other bells and whistles for just a hair over $50,500. But the Range Rover strives to be more than just another SUV, and for a quarter of a million dollars, it must. Slotted firmly between the Bentley Bentayga V8 and the Rolls Royce Cullinan, the SV offers all the luxury and quality without the ostentatiousness.
While you can drive the SV, it is even better to be driven in it. The four-passenger SUV, when being used correctly, only seats three. At the push of a button, the front passenger seat slides forward and down as a footrest unfolds for the rear passenger. Simultaneously the back passenger side seat reclines. The push of another button reveals the table hidden in the center console, perfect for your road trip charcuterie. A large screen displays all manners of information from the Range Rover, or you can stream all forms of entertainment, all the while enjoying the noise-canceling headphones.
After all that imported cheese and cured meat, you will be thirsty, so this is where the onboard champagne chiller comes in handy. Don’t worry…the cup holders are designed to accommodate the chilled champagne flutes as well. Handy, isn’t it? Riding in the back of a vehicle, even to the grocery store to pick up a few things, feels like you should be rounding the corner on Av. de Monte-Carlo about to stop at the casino where a white-gloved valet awaits to make sure you never face the indignity of opening your own door. This, of course, is how the SV is supposed to make you feel when you are in it, but since the Texas Riviera is not quite Monaco, I opted to take the SV for a drive through the wine country.
Washington County, the county seat of Brenham, is home to not just a developing wine industry but also one of the best new wineries in Texas, Chapelton Vineyards, which served as the perfect destination for our wine country road trip. Since Land Rover only authorized me to drive, my sidekick cameraman Lucas Kepner took full advantage of the luxury accommodations in the back. While this vehicle is designed for optimum passenger comfort, the SV is still a pleasure to drive. The 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 produces over 520 horsepower and over 550 lb.–ft. of torque, all channeled through an 8-speed automatic transmission. That should get you there and back quickly enough.
While it can’t be described as exactly sporty, the vehicle’s handling is impressive, thanks to the active anti-roll stabilization system. And being a Range Rover, it, of course, has all-wheel-drive, Terrain Response, Hill Descent Control, and a bevy of other technologies that allow luxury to continue even when the road does not. Yet, on the highway or the wine country roads, what impresses me most is just how quiet it is inside. Not a whisper from the wind, just the faintest sound from the tires as we make our way down the county roads. Range Rover really has managed to live up to the name, Serenity.
Pulling up into the winding driveway of Chapelton Vineyards, the Range Rover matches the property’s aesthetic. Modern, but somehow still traditional and familiar. As we leave the pavement and head out into the bounty of grapes, the Range Rover hardly notices since the suspension absorbs all the bumps and ruts like they aren’t even there. The tight corners around the vines are easily negotiated thanks to the four-wheel steering, and the advanced camera system lets you look at the vehicle from a perspective as if you were spotting yourself on a trail. Throw in all the additional sensors, and crashing the new Range Rover in a vineyard, or a parking lot would require real commitment.
As I sat on the back tailgate of the SV, the sun set over the vineyard. I can’t help but think, “I wish this had the optional Tailgate Event Suite with leather cushions.” It would have only been another $1,200, and if you are ordering one of these, tick all the boxes and include everything.
This Range Rover did not give me the opportunity to really get out and test it as a vehicle. No, there was no sideways drifting through the mud, harrowing tests at the track, nor rock-crawling adventures. It is too special for those things, plus Range Rover saw my test of the Rolls-Royce and asked me not to take it to a bog. But it is a special vehicle, reserved for people who understand the value of understated elegance. If you are in the market for the finest luxury SUV ever made, this SV should be on your shortlist.