The Range Rover is the top luxury 4x4 ("four wheel drive" in British English) model of Land Rover. The Range Rover was built on a box section ladder type chassis, much like the contemporary Series Land Rover, but utilised coil springs as opposed to leaf springs, permanent four wheel drive, disc brakes all round and powered by the lightweight Rover V8 engine of 3528 cc (3947 cc in later variants - and is now powered by a Jaguar V8 of 4.4 litres). The vehicle proved popular in the UK and elsewhere in the world.
However, prior to 1987, Land Rover vehicles were only sold in The United States through the grey market. Strong grey market demand led the Land Rover company began selling the Range Rover in the USA officially in 1987. From that time until 1993, the U.S. marketing was all in the name of Range Roverâ€”they were a one-product company. In 1993, with the arrival of the Defender 110 and the imminent arrival of the Discovery, the company changed its name to Land Rover USA.
From its inception, the Range Rover has been one of the most luxurious sport utility vehicles although it has always been built for off-road capability foremost.
Among enthusiasts, the original model is known as the Classic, the second generation is known as the P38A and the latest generation is known as the L322 or just "new Range Rover".
In 2002 a third generation model was introduced which saw the model move further up-market. The Land Rover brand name, and the Range Rover model for that matter, were now owned by Ford when they took over from BMW in 2001. Range Rovers initially came with the BMW M62 V8 gasoline and 6-cylinder diesel engines because at that time, when the third generation Range Rover was being developed, it was still owned by BMW, although only the V8 gasoline is offered in North America. The last model has improved ground clearance and cross-linked air springs. This time, a monocoque body was chosen, with many design cues from the original model.
On 26 November 2004, Land Rover released the first photographs of the Range Rover Sport, a new model it planned to show to the public for the first time at the 2005 North American International Auto Show. The Range Rover Sport is a production car development of the Range Stormer concept vehicle the company showcased in the 2004 North American International Auto Show. Though called the Range Rover Sport, it was not merely a new specification within the Range Rover line-up, but rather an entirely new vehicle, based on the Discovery/LR3 chassis. This model was released for sale in late 2005.
Conscious of the need for more power to keep up with the Range Rover's competitors, and reluctant to keep relying on BMW for power plants, Ford presided over the adaptation of engines from Jaguar (also Ford-owned) for Land Rover use. A 4.4 litre, 345 hp version of the Jaguar 4.2 litre V8 was developed and first used in the new 2005 LR3/Discovery 3 model, temporarily giving it more power than the Range Rover. At the 2005 Detroit Motor Show, a major update of the Range Rover was unveiled, with the base model using the LR3/Discovery 3 engine, and a premium model using a supercharged version of the Jaguar 4.2 litre V8 developing 400 horsepowerâ€”the same engine slated for the new Range Rover Sport (the RRS model uses a detuned variant making a total of 389BHP), scheduled for introduction about the same time (mid 2005) as the updated Range Rover. Both engines are lightweight aluminum alloy units, with advanced torque-based engine management systems that, together with drive-by-wire throttle control and variable camshaft phasing (on the 4.4 litre version), continually adjust the engine to deliver optimum performance. Both the engines are specially adapted by Land Rover for better low speed torque characteristics (important in off-road driving), the ability to run at the extreme angles encountered off road, improved protection from dust and rocks, and improved sealing needed for wading. This model of the Range Rover was used extensivly in the hit series "The O.C" by Sandy Cohen.