The Range Rover is the definitive luxury SUV. The argument can be made that the Toyota Land Cruiser, which originated when vehicles of this type were called “4x4s” instead of “sport utility vehicles,” is more classic. But the Land Cruiser is exemplary because of its ruggedness. Those early FJs had no frills and that, in fact, is an integral part of their enduring appeal. But the Range Rover was always about tackling any terrain on the outside while wrapping passengers in creature comforts on the inside. Before there was a Cadillac Escalade or Porsche Cayenne or whatever Rolls-Royce is making, there was the Range Rover. The fact that Queen Elizabeth drives one (yes, drives, not is chauffeured around in) tells you a lot. The Range Rover is the automobile equivalent of the “Get you a man/woman who can do both” meme.
But just because the Range Rover maintained its place at the top of the heap, doesn’t mean it didn’t change. Since the first prototype was introduced in 1969, the Range Rover evolved from a boxy, two-door affair into today’s version, which is curvier with aggressively slanted lines. To show the evolution, Range Rover put together the above video as a time lapse of the vehicle’s design changes.
The original 1969 prototype was named Velar, a play on the Italian word “Velare,” which means “to veil.” When the first production model was released a year later it was the first SUV to have full-time four wheel drive. The four-door body came out in 1981. This remains my favorite iteration of the Rover, so classic yet so badass. The second generation came out in 1994 with a new body design and was followed by the first unibody construction of the Rover in 2001. The fourth generation was released in 2012 and, while there have been updates, including a long wheelbase Autobiography edition, it introduced the look that you’ll see in rich people enclaves like the Hamptons or Palm Beach and racing down ski slopes.