ROAD TEST: 2006 RANGE ROVER

Few SUVs make me feel as smart and as fashionable (as in, "I'm too sexy for my car") as the new supercharged Range Rover. Boxy and bold, this tweaked version retains many stylish design cues implemented by BMW, which owned the marque until Ford recently purchased it. Dig the vigorous new Jaguar-derived 4.2-liter, V-8 engine with 400 horsepower. Thrill to its very capable off-road performance, and a suspension that's magically at once forgiving and stiff. On a drive along Highway 1 overlooking northern California's rocky coastline, I liked how the vehicle's stability and high ride gave me solid command of the road.

Though it's likely to be housed in suburban garages, the new Range Rover's look is strictly urban contemporary. A matte-finish cherry veneer on the dash, with ample use of matte aluminum trim, is so tasteful, it almost makes me weep. And I love how the new mesh grille and air-intake covers seem industrial, and the headlamp clusters look like floating bubbles. Toss in some racerlike Brembo brakes on standard 20-inch wheels, and this is a true workhorse that rides every bit like an Arabian show horse.

Tip: Can't afford the sticker price? Then settle for a cheaper HSE model, which shaves off $15,000 and (sorry!) 95 ponies from the engine.

ROAD TEST: 2006 RANGE ROVER | News