An idiosyncratic review of the 2011 Range Rover Autobiography – Intro & Part 1: TFT-LCD Instrument Cluster #rangerover

We’ll start this one off with a quote from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:

It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

I was fortunate enough to pickup my 2011 Range Rover Autobiography a few weeks ago after ordering it back in September with no definite ETA. 

In a word  – Awesome. 

It’s about as close to a bespoke Range Rover as you can get in the US and it really feels like one.  The full leather trim feels both way upscale & the little differences in the leather or the way the trim goes together give it a real hand made quality.  The 510HP engine finally gives the Range Rover what it should always have had a Rolls Royce like – effortless power supply.  It seems in almost any situation, when you put your foot down, the Range Rover responds immediately.  Then on top of all that there are all the new technological gadgets that a Range Rover never really had before, and while a generation behind Mercedes or BMW, it finally feels like a modern vehicle.

I’ve had a 1995 P38A, ‘03 Range Rover HSE, ‘06 Range Rover Supercharged & an ‘08 Range Rover Supercharged, so I can talk with first-hand authority on what’s changed, what’s better & what’s worse.  And that’s really just what this review will be.  You can go to any other site and read a regular review that goes on and on about the normal stuff and lists standard features.

In fact, here are a couple right here:

http://www.carmagazine.co.uk/Drives/Search-Results/First-drives/Range-Rover-44-TDV8-2011-CAR-review/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/car-manufacturers/land-rover/8089617/Range-Rover-Autobiography-long-term-report.html

That said, this will be a way for me to both compliment and complain about the Range Rover. 

And to start with that “revolutionary” LCD-TFT Instrument Cluster.  For the 2010 refresh the Range Rover received a 12.3” TFT-LCD to replace the standard gauges – speedometer, tachometer, etc…  Here’s what it looks like in the official PR video:

 

It’s definitely a neat feature and a real conversation piece for anyone seeing it for the first time.  The images & text are very crisp, clear & bright – with only minimal washout from the sun at various angles.  But after getting used to it, it doesn’t seem to be any better then actual gauges and is really what I believe just a field test for the hardware that they may use in the next Range Rover.  You’d think with all that space on the screen, they could easily take advantage of it to display navigational arrows or even what’s playing on the stereo.  But no, in normal use, it’s the two dials with a big empty black space between them.

DSC_2285

As shown above, that’s the “normal” display – warnings/system settings will appear in the middle area when needed but for the most part that black area remains completely blank 99% of the time.

The funny thing here is that if you look at almost all of the brochure pictures available they show the display with the graphic of a Range Rover in that middle area like this, from the official website.

optoly_us_l322_n-032dk[1]

If you notice at the bottom of the display it shows Mud-Ruts and the other Terrain Response icons, the reason for that is because that Range Rover profile graphic is only displayed for a few seconds when turning on Terrain Response.  Then it switches to a display like this:

DSC_2281

This is the only time the power of the TFT-LCD is put to use and actually even more so when in Rock Crawl as in this shot below from the official website:

optoly_us_l322_a-panel[1]

I’ll just finish with something I noticed the marketing people are doing when describing the new system.  And while I realize I’m nit-picking and the way they word it makes it valid but they like to say as on the website:

The new 12 inch TFT-LCD virtual instrument panel uses the same technology found in high-quality computer laptops and can be both personalized and adapted to suit various driving conditions or personal preference.

And again in this very recent print ad below , they tout:

“TFT-LCD instrument cluster creates a new standard of customized driver information and control”

Range-Rover-Autobiography---La-Prarie

I guess you could say it’s customized in the sense that you can turn on and off a few options but for the most part, there isn’t really much to customize.  Outside of what you previously(pre-2010) set through the main touchscreen – language, units, etc.., you can turn on/off the flashlight effect which can be seen in the previous picture where the road & engine speeds have a highlight on them while darkening the other numbers on the dial.  And that’s really it – no option to display the audio system info or to display navigational prompts – I don’t even think there are any color options, not that I’d want any, just pushing “customizable” point.

And just to cover my bases, yes there are other settings there, but again there’s no reason any of those settings couldn’t be set through the touchscreen.  I don’t see how turning on and off the HBA through the touchscreen really makes it customizable.  And really, I guess they are there to give the right-hand steering wheel controller something to do.

DSC_2255DSC_2256

And one more shot of the Forward Alert system in action, so you can see that they do actually use the in between section from time to time.  When turned on(through the LCD, ha), Forward Alert will pop up the triangle warning and sound a chime if it senses you’re going to possibly collide with a vehicle in front of you.  It’s actually really neat.  There is a curve near where I live that when the situation is just right will cause it to go off every time I approach it, and that’s where I was when I took this picture – sorry it’s so blurry, but I think you’ll get the idea.

.ForwardWarning

So can anyone at Land Rover actually explain some of the customizable options?  Will we ever see some software updates on the 2010/2011’s that will give us more functionality?

I’ll just close this one now and get back to the general feel of the 2011, all the little things they’ve added and tweaked are indicative of a Range Rover model at the end of it’s run – like they did with the 1995 Range Rover Classic interior & the 2001 Range Rover 4.6 chrome interior bits. This is also a sign of what should be a very solid truck with years of polish.  I can’t say enough good things overall about this latest Range Rover, but they still do seem to be stuck at that 90% point – where if they just put in 10% more work, it would be perfect (for a Range Rover that is).

And up next, some little differences I’ve noticed…

Thanks for reading! 

And one other video – something I filmed the other day – Starting the Range Rover:

  • Cary Wiltz

    I’m late to the party. Very late but didn’t see a way to contact the author with a few questions about the 2011 Range Rover he reviewed here. Curious to know what he thinks of it in comparison to the 2013 redesign.

    • michaeltw

      Hi, if you’re talking specifically to the digital gauges, there is basically no difference in my complaints here versus what is in my current gen Range Rover(MY14.5). They did add a next-turn navigation map between the gauges but it’s still not much compared to what every other manufacturer is doing with those screens. ESPECIALLY when Land Rover was the leader in 2010 but then as now did nothing with it.

      • Cary Wiltz

        Thank you! What do you think about reliability and dependability as a whole? Crap shoot or have you found that the later models are more solid with less heartburn?

      • michaeltw

        I have no complaints on Range Rover reliability since around 2008. My complaints here are just nit-picking on some of their disappointing choices.
        As a whole I’ve had great success and no issues beyond the normal initial little rattles or squeaks.

      • Cary Wiltz

        Thanks a bunch, Michael! I’m looking at this one (http://www.carmax.com/enus/view-car/default.html?id=11409400&Rp=M&AVi=5&Ep=mykmx:save%20car:page) but have a few German makes I’m considering, too. I’m kinda OCD on “too many miles” when it comes to used vehicles but trying to be better. If this one wins, I’ll get their extended warranty.
        After spending a small fortune on a 2011 CL550, I’m ok with used as long as it’s reliable.

        Thanks again!

      • michaeltw

        Good luck with it. My 2011 Autobiography is still one of my all time favorites. Just be sure that warranty is good!

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