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The 2013 Range Rover on the obstacle course at Land Rover of Waukesha.
The 2013 Range Rover on the obstacle course at Land Rover of Waukesha.

A more ultimate driving machine?

With apologies to BMW, I think there's a more ultimate driving machine being made in Europe right now. Many of us will never be able to afford it, and even if we could, what would we do with it?

This "more ultimate driving machine" is the 2013 Range Rover, and it's no soccer mom SUV – unless you're playing soccer atop a mountain.

It's an insane example of British engineering (by way of its new owner, India's Tata Motors), and it's unlike anything I've ever been in.

Of course, it should be unlike anything I've ever been in, as the demo I previewed last week will sell for more than $100,000.

Fields Land Rover of Waukesha invited me to their dealership to get a preview of the new Range Rover, the first U.S. model in 15 years. It's the first one in Wisconsin, and actually, one of the first ones in the country.

Sales rep Jason Green took me on two test drives in this incredibly bespoke and gigantic SUV, which, with aluminum throughout, weighs less than a Mini Clubman. The first spin through the dealer's obstacle course reflected terrain that you might see in, oh, I don't know, Afghanistan.

The Range Rover navigated impossible angles easily, at times with only one wheel perched on the ground. No scrapes or thuds. This is a vehicle designed for serious around-the-world duty. While it looks the part of a truck you'd want to take to the grocery stores, it's probably more suited toward ambassadors and sheiks and seriously wealthy outdoorsmen who can appreciate an SUV with the capabilities of a HUMMER and the refinement of, well, a Range Rover.

For the on-road portion of our demo, Green floored it, and the 510 supercharged horses threw me back into my seat. This is an absurdly powerful vehicle, that somehow manages 20 miles per gallon the highway. It's hard to comprehend how this SUV can do it all.

Says Green, "When you take one of the most capable vehicles in the world, increase fuel economy, add over five inches of rear passenger room and make it weigh less than a Mini Clubman, you have done something truly great."

Indeed. Truly great ... and truly expensive. The base model (if you can call it that) will start at $83,500.

According to Land Rover, the company expects to sell about 15,000 Range Rovers this year. I don't imagine I'll be buying one. But a guy can dream, right?


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