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MARK II/P38 INTRODUCTION

A long awaited all-new Range Rover design was introduced to the world in late 1994. The designers had a tough challenge with the Classic Range Rover being a most difficult act to follow. Since the Range Rover had moved well up-market from its original marketing concept, there was an effort to position the new vehicle as more attractive to the prospective Jaguar, BMW or Mercedes buyer in terms of pavement performance, while retaining class-leading off-road abilities. Most reviews in the automotive press agree they succeeded to a considerable degree, combining conservative design with several innovative engineering achievements.

BODY SHAPE

The Range Rover design team considered a wide range of more daring designs, but evidently saw the buyer as very traditional and the resulting body shape was criticized by some as bland. Certainly it can be difficult to distinguish at a distance from the some lesser sport utility vehicles and minivans. However the new shape did retain certain styling cues from the older design, such as the castellated hood and the black "C" pillars. The newer version had an extremely low drag coefficient and much lower wind noise, making it a superb high speed cruiser with a top speed of 111 mph for the 4.0SE and over 120 for the 4.6HSE. The Mark II/P38 body is more spacious than the Classic, and retains the much-loved rear tailgate arrangement which makes for pleasant afternoon tea stops in the field. The spare tire is repositioned under the loadspace for the spare tire, while the fuel tank is moved to a less vulnerable position forward of the rear axle. There is even a glove compartment and drink holders.

CHASSIS AND ENGINE

While sharing few components, the redesigned model bore considerable mechanical resemblance to the Classic. The steel box section chassis was even stronger and heavier; the curb weight of the vehicle was up to about 4,600 lbs. The 108 inch wheelbase was the same as the earlier County LWB, and aluminum body panels were used for the front fenders, the doors and tailgate. The engine was still the aluminum pushrod V8 but was reworked in many details, improving strength and longevity and providing 4-coil distributorless ignition. Even more smooth running than the old engine, it was renamed the 4.0 to distinguish it from the old 3.9 of identical displacement. It produced slightly more power and torque which were needed to motivate the increased weight. An HSE model used a stroked 4.6 litre version of the engine.

SUSPENSION

The electronically adjustable air suspension designed into the 4.0/4.6 model is similar to that on the Classic County LWB models, which in retrospect (having an almost identical wheelbase), can be seen partly as a test bed for the redesign. Vehicle height can be raised and lowered over a 5-inch plus range (compared with a 1-inch range in such imitators as the Ford Expedition air assisted suspension option).

In the lowest "access mode" setting, the suspension is grounded almost to the bump stops to allow the vertically challenged to get into the vehicle without standing on a stepladder as required for other serious off-road vehicles. Normal height is only occasionally used, because at highway speeds the body lowers itself an inch below normal to increase stability. When venturing off-road, high profile can be selected for an instant 1.6 inch lift above "normal" (2.6 inches above the highway ride setting). Finally, there is an "extended profile" in which the system's "brain" senses that the body is grounded and pushes the wheels down even further until they find terra firma to extricate the vehicle, saving the owner the indignity of having a Range Rover pulled out of a "stuck" by some lesser vehicle. The characteristics of this setup also mean that the dynamic response and "feel" of the ride does not vary, like a conventionally sprung vehicle, from hard when unloaded to mushy when loaded. Maximum departure angle is maintained even under full load, and the suspension is much more difficult to "bottom out". Finally, the headlights are always aimed level regardless of load.

Solid axles front and rear (redesigned to increase strength, reduce unsprung weight, reduce bump steer and increase ground clearance) were retained -- a vital off-road feature which is becoming rare in today's SUVs. The pesky swivel pin housings that leak and need constant maintenance on the Classic were eliminated, and the CV joints are lubricated by grease trapped within a rubber boot. Front axle location is similar to Classic models, with a Panhard Rod and antisway bar. The rear suspension employs innovative composite fiber trailing links that resist torsion and therefore eliminate the need for a rear antisway bar. A Panhard Rod is used for lateral location instead of the previous A-frame. The roll center was lowered. Articulation is nominally reduced but under testing it still easily exceeds that of any other production 4X4. Articulation is increased in high profile mode rather than decreased as on the Classic. It is comforting to note that suspension compliance is still sufficient to inspire the appearance of aftermarket anti-sway bar "upgrades" (off road enthusiasts beware).

TRANSMISSION

The transmission was upgraded to an electrically shifted unit controlled by its own computer (ECU). The controls employ a novel "H" gate shift pattern, eliminating the need for a separate hi-lo range shifter. In low range, a button allows you to operate it as a true manual gearbox, locking it in any chosen gear. In high range the same button selects "sport" mode for faster acceleration. The innovative electronic traction control system is retained, applying the brake to a spinning wheel so that torque is transferred to the wheel with the most grip. This accomplishes the function of a heavy duty four wheeling locker in a way that is smoother, more progressive and less likely to result in broken drivetrain parts.

LUXURY FEATURES

Standard electronic sophistication and luxury features on the newly introduced model were far ahead of anything offered, even as options, by other manufacturers. Aside from the usual luxury car features like dual zone totally automatic climate control, an 11 speaker, 6 disk sound system with steering wheel controls, and lighted driver's and passenger's vanity mirrors, the Range Rover Mark II/P38 has pollen filters, heated 10-way adjustable power front seats (including power operated headrests and lumbar support adjustment), heated windshield, heated washer jets, power headlamp washers and wipers, rear view mirrors that are heated and tilt down automatically when reverse is selected, power one-touch (open and close) antitrap windows and moon roof, a 150-function message center with trip computer, and many other thoughtful amenities to make the journey though punishing terrain even more relaxing than it was in the Classic model. Fortunately, the puddle lamps were retained under the doors so you can see what kind of terrain you are stepping into when you reluctantly leave the luxury of the cabin.

ON ROAD ATTRIBUTES AND PERFORMANCE

Sitting at the controls of a Range Rover Mark II/P38, it is hard not to fall in love with the vehicle. The high and extremely comfortable seating position along with the array of more ergonomically designed controls somehow convey the feeling of being in command of any terrain or situation.

The goal of improved refinement and handling was definitely achieved. The engine is supremely smooth, the cabin is quiet, and there is no slop in the drivetrain. Compared with the Classic, the ride is firmer, but throwing the Range Rover into corners gives a feeling of confidence. Steering is more precise, body roll is reduced, there is a solid feeling of attachment to the pavement, and the car actually holds a straight line down the freeway with no need for constant steering input. The automatic "set and forget" climate control has air conditioning almost up to the refrigerator-like standards of American cars. The new aerodynamic shape provides higher maximum and cruising speeds than the old Range Rover, and generates far less wind noise. The greatly improved responsiveness of the transmission, combined with the engine revving very smoothly to over 5,000 RPM, makes the vehicle feel much more lively. Although the power to weight ratio is no more favorable than the Classic, the improvement in overall refinement and road manners translates to noticeably faster travel times from A to B, as well as more effortless long distance travel.

Of course, when it comes to sheer power and acceleration, even the 4.6 is no match for a J**p Grand Cherokee. Although this has little or no effect on real-world driving, automotive journalists tend to rate vehicles based on their performance at the dragstrip. As a concession to them, a limited edition Callaway version of the Range Rover 4.6HSE for 1998/9 produced 240 horsepower. For 1999 models, an improved Bosch engine management system combined with a revised intake design gave a slight torque increase.

OFF ROAD FEATURES

When the newly redesigned Mark II/P38 Range Rover was introduced, it was universally agreed that its off-pavement performance was still tops among Sport Utility Vehicles. Since the revolutionary original model established the breed in 1970, many features have been copied, but the Range Rover has managed to remain ahead of the crowd. (Interestingly, for 1999 J**p copied the A-frame rear axle location system first used on the Classic in 1970). Compared with the coil sprung Classic, the Mark II/P38 model has the same breakover angle, better approach and departure angles, more ground clearance, a lock-in-any-gear transmission, a much cleaner underbody, a stronger chassis, improved dust sealing and filtering, a higher air intake position on diesel models for deep water fording, and improved engine running ability at extreme angles. When you lift the suspension to high profile, the clearance under the vehicle is truly massive and clean-looking. Unlike other SUVs, there is no transfer case hanging down just where you need maximum height. Unlike the Classic models there is not a lot of miscellaneous componentry hanging below the chassis rails. The radius arm mounts, which on the Classic model were vulnerable to hits from rocks, are better protected. The absence of the swivel pin housings is lamented by some die-hard off road pundits but has given no trouble in the author's off-road service.

The air suspension is a boon off road, and some of its unique advantages are not as well known as the obvious height adjustment advantage. For example, full ground clearance (and especially departure angles) are maintained regardless of load. (I was always hitting the rear of my loaded Classic on the ground but so far have not with the 4.0). And, the progressive nature of air springs means that when encountering an obstacle or ditch too fast you hit the bumpstops much less frequently than with coil springs.

For those who wonder whether the Mark II/P38 can hack it off road with the older designs, I have personally tested it with various earlier Land Rover models in different off-road situations. Chris Bonin, on a recent trail ride with a convoy of Land Rovers, remarked (referring to the newer model): "Riding behind him in my 88RR you could see a considerable difference in ride comfort. Mine bouncing around and looking at them in front of me was a nice air cushioned ride. You would have to say a little jealous ...... I was a little sore the next day". On the local winter "mud run" over a severely muddy road in convoy of other Land Rovers (mostly with mud tires and lockers), the 4.0 was stymied on a couple of occasions due to its lack of mud treads and a front locker, but kept up well the rest of the time. (It was also the only vehicle which was not "aired down"). On a recent Death Valley expedition including negotiating a dry rock warterfall and other serious obstacles, the 4.0 avoided both the wheelspin and the body damage experienced by a beefed-up Classic in the convoy, and effortlessly outdistanced the accompanying vehicles on the washboard sections.

My own impression in off-pavement driving compared with the Classic is that handling is improved on graded dirt roads, while on rougher roads slightly lower speeds are needed to keep the ride smooth. At normal four wheeling speeds, the suspension feels very supple. Most four wheel drive roads and trails can be negotiated at normal ride height. The rear no longer sags under load so the main source of chassis-ground contact is reduced. When additional clearance is needed, as for crossing ditches and washouts, high profile is very handy, and I find the usable, loaded clearance is better than my Classic. The progressive nature of the air springs make bottoming out largely a thing of the past. The wider tires seem to diminish mud traction a bit, but the traction control helps restore the deficit. Of course the flip side is that the wide tires improve sand traction, and rock crawling traction is excellent. And, those pollen filters really do work -- on convoy trips over dusty roads, you breath clean air! Things like that can make a real difference to the trip's enjoyment. Although I find the increase in overall dimensions a nuisance on some trails, the longer wheelbase tends to flatten out obstacles and give a very undramatic ride over awful terrain.

BUILD QUALITY

It is comforting to know that the Mark II/P38 models can sometimes be prone to the familiar minor flaws of old -- for the perspective of one buyer, consult Ms Mango's Range Rover Web. However, the many satisfied customers are reflected in the scarcity and high resale value of used models, and the vehicle's solid basic foundation means it will probably still be around when its competitors are long since crushed for recycling.

Any new vehicle has its teething problems, and the redesigned Range Rover was no exception. It is an unusually complex machine, and an impressive engineering achievement. However, with such an array of new mechanical and electronic equipment, things can occasionally go wrong. In fact, the tentacles of computer control are so pervasive that some things which seem at first to be faults turn out to be merely the higher intelligence of the computer controlling the vehicle's functions as planned!

The Mark II/P38 model has been subject to several recalls covering the cooling system, rear suspension, and other components. Build quality is said to have improved with time. In 1998 the new vehicle warranty was extended to four years, presumably to help allay buyer fears. An extended warranty is well worth considering if you are thinking of buying a Mark II/P38 Range Rover.

WHAT MODEL YEAR?

In selecting a Range Rover it is helpful to know when main mechanical, functional and comfort changes occur. Below is a brief overview for each year. For detailed specifications, illustrations of different models and their distinguishing features, see the Model Year Specifications section.

MARK II/P38 CHRONOLOGY

1994: The all-new P38 model introduced in September in the UK.

1995: New 4.0 SE model goes on sale in USA.

1996: 4.6 HSE introduced to US with larger engine, 18 inch wheels and 255/55R18 tires.

1997: Shock valving recalibrated to softer setting (mid year).

1998: 300 watt, 12 speaker stereo replaces earlier 11 speaker setup. A limited edition 50th Anniversary 4.0SE model has18 inch wheels with a special color and trim details.

1999: Engines receive new intake manifold and Bosch engine controls for more low and midrange torque. Electronic Traction Control extended to all four wheels; larger subwoofer installed. Callaway 4.6 HSE limited edition appears with 240 hp engine and body color bumpers. The engine has a modified Lucas EFI system instead of the Bosch system on regular models.

2000: Addition of air injection reactor (smog pump) on the engine, further complicating repair work. "Round effect headlights" introduced. Several new model designations, each with minor cosmetic trim variations.

2001: 4.6 model only, in SE and HSE trim. HSE recognizable externally by rub strip with chrome insert, and standard 18 inch wheels. Interior HSE trim differences: GPS system standard, 460 watt stereo, extra wood trim, optional lightstone leather, optional wood and leather steering wheel.

2002: Very few Range Rovers sold during first 6 months as customers wait for new model

ITEMS TO INSPECT PRIOR TO PURCHASE

The Mark II/P38 models are just as subject to leaks as the Classic models. Coolant leaks are not uncommon, including thermostat housing, hose leaks. Head gasket leaks seem to be especially common on the later model years. Popular oil leak points include the crankcase pan and the pinion seals. There were several recall campaigns on the earlier models, including one to address coolant leak problems; make sure the work was done. See if the Message Center indicates any faults when you turn on the ignition; this gives a good indication as to whether all the electrical and electronic features are operating. Make sure all the electric door locks work. Check the function of the air suspension (see above) and climate control. For the latter, just punch the "Auto" button and set the desired temperature, making sure the system heats or cools properly. Check out the items mentioned in the Common Issues and Repairs section.

THE TEST DRIVE

The Mark II/P38 should feel tight and car-like to drive, with reduced body roll, and virtually none of the clonking, slop and gear noise associated with earlier models. Steering should be precise and the car should track straight. Transmission shifts should be very smooth. Engaging "sport" mode by pressing the button next to the shifter should make the tranny stay in its lower ranges longer and shift down more readily. The torque converter lockup is electronically controlled and can tend to hunt to and fro a bit on hills, giving the impression of frequent gear changing. To test the transfer case, stop, select neutral, move the shifter across to the low range neutral position, wait 'til the beeps and flashing lights stop, then select the desired gear ratio. To test the climate control, just punch the big "auto" button and set the desired temperature.

Air Suspension: To test the air suspension, you need to know that it will only respond to commands if the engine is running, all doors and the tailgate are closed, and your foot is off the brake. In Park, you should be able to raise and lower it over the full range from "access" to "high" settings. In motion, if the "inhibit" switch (to the right of the height control switch) is off, the suspension should stay in standard profile until you exceed 50 mph for about 30 seconds, then it should lower itself to "low" profile. When you slow down below 35 for about 30 seconds it should revert to "standard". Below 35 mph you should also be able to select "high" profile.

OVERALL SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions, Weights and Capacities

Length 185.5 inches

Width 74.4 inches Height 71.6 inches

Wheelbase 108.1 inches

Track 60.6 inches front, 60.2 inches rear

Turning Circle 39 ft

Ground Clearance 8.4 inches

Fording Depth 21.3 inches (hi profile)

Approach Angle (Hi Profile) 34 deg (spoiler on), 37 deg (spoiler off)

Departure Angle (Hi Profile) 25 deg

Breakover Angle 29 deg (Hi Profile)

Luggage Capacity 31 cu ft (rear seat up), 58 cu ft (rear seat down)

Curb Weight 4,730 lbs (1995), 4960 lbs (2001)

GVWR 6,130 lbs

Payload 1,400 lbs (1995), 1160 lbs (2001)

Max Roof Rack Load 176 lbs

Max Trailer Wt 6,500 lbs (with brakes), 1,650 lbs (without brakes)

Max Tongue Wt 550 lbs

Fuel Capacity 24.6 US gallons, deformable fuel tank & pump intake

Engine Data Engine Type 90 deg pushrod aluminum V8, steel cyl liners, cross bolted main bearings

Displacement 3950cc (4.0), 4554 cc (4.6)

Bore/Stroke 3.70/2.80 in (4.0), 3.70/3.20 (4.6)

Compression Ratio 9.35:1

Power (1995-98) 190 hp (4.0), 225 hp (4.6) @ 4,750 rpm (1999- ) 188 hp (4.0), 222 hp (4.6) @ 4,750 rpm

Torque (1995-98) 236 lb-ft (4.0), 280 lb-ft (4.6) @ 3,000 rpm (1999- ) 250 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm (4.0), 300 lb-ft @ 2,600 rpm (4.6)

Engine Management sequential multiport fuel injection; Lucas to 1998, Bosch Motronic 5.2.1 from 1999

Ignition System Distributorless 4 coil direct ignition w/2 knock sensors

Alternator 150 amp

Fuel Premium Unleaded

Drivetrain Data Transmission ZF 4 speed electrically controlled auto w/locking torque convertor

Shift Modes Normal, Sport (hi range only), Manual (lo range only)

Transmission Ratios 2.48, 1.48, 1.00, 0.73:1. Reverse: 2.09:1

Transfer box Borg Warner 44-62 chain-driven, electric shift w/viscous locking differential

Transfer box ratios 1.22:1 (hi), 3.27:1 (lo)

Differentials 3.54:1 ratio spiral bevel diffs. 4 spider gears on axles with traction control

4WD type: Permanent 4WD Axles Solid axles, fully floating hubs with both differentials in line on one side

Traction Control: Rear wheels (1995-8), all wheels (1999- )

Wheels 16x8 inch alloy (4.0), 18x6 alloy (4.6) Tires 255/65R16 (4.0), 255/55R18 (4.6)

Brakes 4 channel ABS, swept area 469 sq in

Suspension Front: Rigid axle located by radius arms and Panhard Rod. Electronically adjustable air springs Anti-Sway Bar Rear: Rigid axle located by Panhard Rod and composite radius arms (radius arms designed to contribute some roll resistance)

Electronically adjustable air springs

Standard Appointments

Heated outside mirrors, programmable 2 position memory; tilt down when reverse selected

Heated windshield w/heated washer jets

Heated rear window w/power wash and intermittent wipe (automatically activated in reverse w/front wipers on)

10 way electrically adjustable heated front seats w/2 position memory

One touch open/close front windows & sunroof ; One touch open rear windows

Automatic dimming rear view mirror

Automatic dimming exterior mirrors from model year 2000 on

Audio System: 120 watts, 11 speakers (300 watts/13 speakers from 1999, 300 watts 12 speakers 2001 SE, 460 watts 12 speakers 2001 HSE), 6 disc CD changer, 2 fm bands, am band, auto seeking weather band, cassette player, speed equalization (2001 HSE)

Automatic climate control w/separate driver/passenger side controls

Outside temperature gauge

Pollen filters for sealing out off-road dust

Flush mounted mudflaps (standard on 4.6HSE, optional on 4.0)

Dual halogen headlights w/power wash & wipe; auxiliary fog lights front and rear

Puddle lamps front and rear

Cruise Control

Tilt/telescopic steering wheel, collapsible steering column

Driver & passenger airbags

Security system with keyless entry

Integral Class III trailer hitch receiver

Leather seats with adjustable head restraints front and rear Leather and burl walnut trim

Message Center w/150 messages about all vehicle functions

Trip computer

Child locks on rear doors

Home Link system for garage doors and security gates (optional to 1997, standard thereafter)

Performance Data

4.0SE (Car & Driver, April 1995)

0-60mph 10.5 sec

Standing 1/4 mile 17.9 @ 77 mph

Top Speed 113 mph (Car & Driver), est 116 mph (Road & Track May 1995)

EPA city/hwy 13/16

Observed fuel use 14 mpg (Car & Driver)

Braking 70-0 185 ft

Skid Pad 0.73g (Car & Driver), 0.76g (Road & Track) 4.6HSE (Road & Track, winter 1995/6)

0-60mph 10.0 sec (9.5 Motor Trend Nov 99), 8.2 sec (Callaway Model, Wheels of Fortune Nov 98)

Standing 1/4 mile 17.5 sec @ 80.4 mph (17.2 @ 78.6, Motor Trend Nov 99)

Top Speed 124 mph (factory brochure). 121.8 mph (Auto Motor & Sport)

EPA city/hwy 12/16

Observed fuel use 13.2 mpg (Open Road, 1996)

Braking 70-0 Please email if you have info

80-0 in 270 ft 60-0 in 146 ft (132 ft Motor Trend)

Skid Pad .73g