The folks at Land Rover are talking value as well, but at a different end of the spectrum. They're proud of the fact that the new Range Rover, hitting the market with a price tag of $69,995, is smashing all of Range Rover's previous sales records. As you'd expect, the new Range Rover brims with high-end features, like a BMW-derived 4.4L engine that produces 282 hp, fully independent air-spring suspension, and a host of electronic traction control features with enough abbreviations to fill a can of alphabet soup. The new Range Rover is larger than its predecessor, has more ground clearance, and has more interior room.
Land Rover has also made "substantial improvements" to the '03 Discovery, including a facelift (so it more closely resembles the new Range Rover), a larger and more powerful V-8 engine, and interior upgrades. There's no official news about any changes to Land Rover's Freelander mini-ute, but we think that's because there's a chance the European three-door version may be coming to the States soon.
Land Rover picked a good time to debut a new Range Rover, since it will face competition from another ultra-high-end SUV this year. The Mercedes-Benz G500, also known as the Gelaendewagen or G-wagen, is sure to attract its share of attention among the rich and famous. It's exclusive (only a couple thousand will be sold in the U.S.), offers hand-crafted Teutonic build quality, and combines rugged off-road capability with luxe interior appointments, all wrapped in retro-square sheetmetal. For your $73,000 you get solid-axle/coil-spring suspensions front and rear, 265/60 tires on 18-inch alloy rims, and the same 292hp 5.0L V-8 found in Mercedes' S-Class sedan and SL roadster. The full-time 4WD system includes mechanical diff locks at each differential, a 2.16:1 low-range ratio, and electronic traction control at all four wheels.
Mercedes' other off-roader, the M-Class, was all-new-for-2002, so it carries over.While we're on the subject of high-end SUVs, Porsche's new Cayenne will be introduce, with ungodly amounts of horsepower (450 in the Turbo model) and, reportedly, sports-car-like handling that will make the SUV worthy of its heritage.
Toyota's major launch for this year is the all-new 4Runner. It's longer, wider, and more powerful than the previous generation, and now comes with a choice of engines: an all-new, 245hp 4.0L V-6 or the familiar 4.7L iForce V-8, which produces less horsepower than the new six but more torque-320 lb-ft versus the six's 283. The 4Runner bristles with more driveline technology than any truck in the Toyota line (more than even the Land Cruiser), with a Torsen limited slip in the center differential, electronic traction aids, and hill-holder and downhill-braking-assist modes. Trim levels will range from the base SR5 model to a deluxe Limited edition, and prices are expected to run between the mid $20,000s and the high $30,000s.
If you're looking for a little more luxury in your 4Runner, take a look at the new Lexus GX 470. It's very similar to the 4Runner in size, engine, and drivetrain features but has interior appointments-leather upholstery, deluxe audio, a DVD entertainment system-more in keeping with the upscale brand.
The changes for Toyota's other SUVs aren't quite as major. The Land Cruiser and its upscale sibling, the Lexus LX 470, receive new five-speed automatic transmissions, a 5hp bump from the 4.7L V-8, and new interior designs. A DVD entertainment system for rear-seat passengers is now optional on the Cruiser and LX as well as Toyota's Sequoia.