I recently took a 2,000+ mile road trip in my Porsche (You may have seen the photos on Twitter). From Ft Lauderdale to the Smokie Mountains, to the Biltmore Esate in Asheville, to Charleston, I enjoyed top down driving and scenic roads. The highlight of my adventure was visiting the Biltmore Estate. It is famous for being the largest home in the USA, but what most peole don’t know is that it is also the proving grounds for Land Rover’s world renowned off-road academy.
If you are an off-road enthusiast – by any means – then the Land Rover Experience Driving School should be on your bucket list. When I arived, I expected to meet a Land Rover representative who was going to try to sell me on why the new Range Rover is the “best off-road vehicle ever created.” Instead, I was introduced to a thrill seeking off-road proffessional intstructor. His terrain expereince included everything from rock deserts to arttic mountain climbs.
The school doesn’t teach out to drive a Land Rover with sophisticated technology; it teaches you how to properly drive an off-road vehicle. The first thing my instructor did was to take me to an open field and show me the capability lines on the 2015 Range Rover – how steep of a hill can it climb or go over without bottoming out. By understanding the capability lines of our vehicle, you can determin the best route to take. Next we discussed how to properly steer the vehcile while off-roading. Normal steering positions are thrown out the window, because you never want to cross your arms. If the airbag goes off and your arms are crossed while making a sharp turn, then your hand will hit you in the face. Instead, you want to constantly reposition your hands towards the bottom of the steering wheel. We went on to discuss power managment and hill decent (without hill decent control active). These basis techniques should be applied no matter what type of vehicle you are driving, whether it be a $24,000 Jeep Wrangler or $150,000 Range Rover Autobiography.
After a couple hours with all of the technology off, my instructor taught me how to drive with the technoogy on. “Technology doesn’t replace technique,” said my instructor. He was right. The techniques I learned with the technology off made me a better off-road driver. I know how to better control my vehicle over difficult terain, how to navigate a tight trail without scratching my vehicle, and how to judge my vehicles limmitations without testing them.
Following an afternoon of intense training, my driving instructor gave me a graduation gift… A private tour of the US Land Rover Heritage Collection! While it may look like a garage full of old Land Rovers, this collection is unique. It contains one the first Land Rovers ever built, as well as, two Land Rovers that drove arround the world. All of the Land Rovers in the collection are in working order and (somewhat) regularly hit the trails, when they are not on display.