Range Rover eats mountains for breakfast
Remember that little gift box that opens to reveal a smaller box, and then another, and still another after that? The first time I saw one I remember being surprised at how small the boxes would get. I kept thinking, this has to be the last one. It can’t get any smaller. But then, surprise, it would. It’s that same staggered amazement that I felt when I experienced the vast driving capabilities of a Land Rover.
I’ve seen Land Rovers, of course. I’ve ridden in them as a passenger, and I’ve even driven a Rover around New York. But none of that mattered, however, when I was clinging to the side of a mountain thousands of feet up. That, mon ami, gave me a whole new appreciation of the Land Rover’s capabilities.
Let’s back up a bit. When I was recently offered the opportunity to test-drive Land Rovers in Utah’s Moab desert for UPTOWN Online, I jumped at the chance. Later, when I learned I’d be driving a huge SUV up the side of a mountain, I naturally assumed that “mountain” was meant in a mostly figurative sense. You know, like, maybe a few big rocks or one semi-large hill. So, when we drove past the sign that ominously read “Poison Spider Mesa,” I was still smiling. As souped up Jeep Wranglers with roll cages and tires the size of small countries rolled past us, I was certain that our destination would not possibly be the same as theirs. Yeah, I was wrong.
Believe it or not, the Land Rover can handle anything those vehicles can. I have to be honest, I didn’t believe it myself.
When we stopped for a break to watch dune buggies and motorcycles attempt to shimmy their way up a sheet of rock shaped like a hairpin that had just been run over by a bus, I saw many of them slip, get stuck or gun the engine and burn rubber just to make it to the top. That said, I was less than amused when our survivalist guides indicated that we were supposed to drive the same route. Lovely.
After cresting that monster of an obstacle course—before my heart could resume beating at a normal rate—we queued up for something even more treacherous. And bested it. Only to do something harder. I remember being surprised at how impossible each new feat would seem. I kept thinking, this has to be the last challenge. It can’t get any harder. But then, surprise, it would (just like the little gift boxes). And yet the Land Rovers never faltered. Completed challenge by completed challenge, I gradually became a believer.
Obviously, the mountains in the Moab desert of Utah are big. Very big. Big enough to cause heart palpitations and sweaty palms. It’s because of this that the folks at Land Rover developed a very specific program for us to follow throughout the day, complete with a band of survivalists who literally helped guide us through safely (see above).
As we crept along the edge of the mountain on trails just wide enough for a couple of goats, I was amazed to discover that the Land Rover felt rock solid. Even when I took my foot off the brake pedal entirely, it refused to budge. This gravity-defying trick was impressive, but not nearly as impressive as the fact that when angled downward (even at an almost completely vertical angle), the Land Rover will brake itself and creep down to the bottom of the mountain. All you have to do is steer, avoid running over the survivalists as they point out which way to turn your wheels, and try not to curse loudly. Two out of three ain’t bad.
Back down closer to sea level, the Rover is impressive too. Thanks to a Bluetooth enabled dashboard, the Rover can connect itself to your phone every time you step inside, offering an impressive, car-wide speaker phone and the ability to keep your hands on the road. There is also a voice command system that lets you handle simple tasks like setting the navigation to “home” and turning the radio off with just a few words. Other interior appointments are comfortable but slightly utilitarian in comparison to it’s sleek and imposing exterior.
Truth is, the Rover’s true beauty is hidden. Its ability to handle any terrain in its path is a trait I’d venture to guess that even most of its owners don’t fully appreciate. For those who do know, I’m certain they feel a certain extra level of security that’s comforting.
One of my fellow drivers told a story of her Land Rover at home. In her hometown it snows relentlessly during the winter and her neighbors have taken to calling on her to drive them to the store for supplies during snowstorms. She’s the only one in the neighborhood who can drive through the snow. And, get this, she doesn’t even have to shovel it out of her driveway. Truly, the Rover is the perfect vehicle for the person who never knows where they might end up but wants to be assured they can get back safely.
Reprinted from UPTOWN Online.