Adding luxury and shedding weight – 700 pounds of it – helps create the finest 4×4 by far, blogs Road Test Editor Howard Walker.

No longer can the abbreviation ‘SUV’ ever again be associated with that icon of British style and elegance, the Range Rover. Sport utility vehicle? You obviously haven’t laid eyes on the all-new version. There’s nothing even remotely utilitarian about this latest, fourth-generation Range Rover. Which is the reason why I’m officially changing its moniker from ‘SUV’ to ‘SLV’, as in Super Luxury Vehicle.

To prove my point, join me if you will, for a moment of comfort and hedonistic relaxation in the re-configured, re-designed rear cabin of the ‘13 Range Rover Autobiography I’ve been piloting. Getting in and out is now so much easier thanks to bigger, barn-door-wide door openings, along with an ‘Access’ ride height mode for the standard air suspension that lowers the car by two inches. Now you can leave the step ladders at home in the garage!

Lengthening the car’s wheelbase has also added an extra 4.7 inches of stretch-out legroom in the back, transforming it into the Prom Night Town Car of SUVs, sorry SLVs. Then there are the seats. Oooooh, the seats. Opt for the ‘Executive Class’ package and you get individual pews the size of ‘Barcaloungers.’ At the touch of a button, they can recline, give you the kind of back massage only a Swedish Helga can perform, they can heat you up, or cool you down. Once ensconced, trust me, you’ll never want to leave.

And why would you when there are eight-inch high-res video screens in the back to play your favorite movies, or the option of an insane 1,700-watt Meridian
Signature Reference audio system with 29 speakers that, when cranked-up, can make your ears bleed. Enya has never sounded so, er, mystical!

But if you can prize yourself out of the back and slide behind the wheel, the driving experience is simply going to change the way you think about big, full-size 4x4s. Conjure up an image of a Rolls-Royce Ghost on stilts, and this is it. Maybe that’s the reason they both share those ‘RR’ initials.

The biggest change here is weight. For this all-new model, the Land Rover folks took the bold decision to switch from steel to aluminum for the entire body structure. Compared to the previous model, this new Range Rover is a whopping 700 pounds lighter. That’s huge. It’s like extracting three Warren Sapps from the back seat!

Less weight means zippier acceleration, nimbler handling and better fuel economy, all of which this new Range Rover achieves with aplomb. Compared to the previous model, it’s like there’s Red Bull in the fuel tank! And that’s certainly the case when you’re driving this Autobiography model with its standard 510-horsepower – yes, you read that right – 510-horse supercharged V8 under the hood coupled to a new, rapid-shifting eight-speed automatic.

With less metal to move, now when you step on the gas this four-wheel-drive rocketship can streak from standstill to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds. That’s not just fast, that’s crazy-fast. And with a stump-pulling 461 pound-feet of tree-stump-pulling torque at your disposal, mid-range thrust for fast, safe passing is simply breathtaking.

It’s not just straight-line performance that makes this new Rover a joy to drive. It’s equipped, for the first time, with Land Rover’s Dynamic Response active lean control system. Using the car’s air suspension and some clever computer wizardry, it can reduce the amount of body roll on corners, as well as smoothing out the ride.

And while I could spend the next week giving you chapter and verse on the technology of its highly-advanced 4×4 technology, believe me when I say it can go anywhere; I just spent three days in Utah on the Hog Canyon Trail near Kenab, taking it places no luxury vehicle should dare to go.

So what is the price of perfection? New Range Rover pricing starts at $83,500 for the entry model, climbing to $130,950 for our best-of-the-best supercharged Autobiography.

And ‘best-of-the-best’ really does sum-up this quite remarkable, go-anywhere machine. It is, to my mind, the finest, most capable luxury vehicle in the world. The fact that it can climb mountains is simply a bonus. A Super Luxury Vehicle indeed.

For more information about the latest Range Rover vehicles, please visit http://www.landrover.com/us/en/lr/all-new-range-rover/