The 2013 Range Rover HSE Sport poses proudly after climbing CORE's biggest hill.

An overview of the 3rd Annual Rocky Mountain Driving Experience

In three short years, the Rocky Mountain Driving Experience (RMDE) has grown to include over 25 automotive journalists and broadcasters; 32 of the newest, most innovative vehicles on the road, greatly enhanced by the presence of at least a dozen, if not more, highly knowledgeable factory representatives.

These folks gather at RMDE each year to drive, discuss and learn about the latest features and aspects of all the automobiles, SUVs and trucks on hand for the event. This takes place on the highways and byways of the scenic and colorful state of Colorado, the challenging and varied elevation of the High Plains Raceway and the offroad test crucible of CORE, a thorough test ground for 4X4 warriors and wannabes in the vehicles specifically designed to take them to remote places and exotic locales.

On March 13, Day One, the event sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), convened in a meeting room of the Holiday Inn at DIA with a breakfast sponsored by Acura and hosted by Shannon Spurgin, the attending rep for the brand.

Everyone was all abuzz with and about the excellent cappuccino and espresso provided by Espresso Smith who dispensed the stimulating java from a converted Harley fuel tank with output controls on the still-attached handle bars.

Following a breakfast with the assembled journalists, broadcasters and RMAP members, a logistics overview and safety cautions, the RMDE group was turned loose to claim one of the available Ride and Drive vehicles for the trip to Boulder, CO.

It was a scramble to get in the cars, which included the Acura ILX, Audi R8 V10 Coupe & R8 Convertible, BMW 335i Sedan, Buick Regal GS, Chevy Camaro ZL1, Dodge Dart & Dart R/T, Fiat 500 Abarth, Ford Mustang GT, Honda CR-V, Jaguar XJL (supercharged), Jeep Wrangler, KIA Optima Hybrid, Mazda CX5, Mercedes Benz C53 C & SL550c, Mini Cooper S, Mitsubishi Outlander GT, Nissan 370 Z Roadster, Altima & Juke, Range Rover Evoque & HSE Sport, Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ plus the Volkswagen CC and Golf R.

At the invitation of one of the event organizers, my first conveyance was a demure green BMW 335i, but true to its name performed in a much more invigorating manner than its dull sheen would suggest.

The 2013 BMW 335i is an embracing sports sedan from the Bavarian brand with a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder with twin turbos and rear wheel drive, still managing 33-mpg highway at a price point starting at $42,400.

It is comfortable, accelerates with authority and corners masterfully without wasting a lot of petrol or imprisoning you in a claustrophobic interior. Inside it is much like the 328i but has a bit more of what’s expected from a car billed as the ultimate driving machine.

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If a Beamer is your thing, but you don’t want one of the big, pricey models, the 2013 335i is a lot of German engineering and technology for under $50K.

Just outside of Boulder, RMDE drivers encountered the first vehicle exchange point, and since we were now in the foothills, trying out the 2013 Range Rover HSE Sport seemed like just the perfect thing to do.

These lush, go-anywhere-in-the-lap-of-luxury SUVs are quite expensive, both to buy, operate and own, but could become quite habit forming if you get too much exposure.

Driving the HSE Sport through the Colorado mountains engenders a feeling of supreme well-being most of us would be happy to occupy 24/7/365. Can I just move into this mobile dwelling? Just add a workstation, fridge and bath – I’ll just drive to where the weather suits me as the seasons and years pass by.

B.B. King sang about Riding With the King, but when you’re driving the 2013 Range Rover HSE Sport, you’re Riding With the Queen – at least in the vehicles used by Royalty Protection Officers.

We’ll get more into this vehicle in a follow-up piece soon, but riding in the HSE Sport reminded me of one of the slogans from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. “Ford’s in his flivver, all’s well with the world.”

So if the evening news is getting you down, go out and test drive a Range Rover – a few minutes later you may decide the world is a wonderful place to be, after all. It certainly was at the Rocky Mountain Driving Experience this week.

Watch for part two of this story soon!