My first car was a Range Rover.
But in the 11 years that my family owned the 1999 4.6L HSE model we bought after seeing it for sale outside the gas station in my hometown of Old Lyme, Connecticut, I never took it off-road (my fearless younger brother, Gus, drove it on trails around our house all the time—more on that later).
The school is one of four around North America; the others are in California, Vermont, and Québec.
"We teach the same thing at each of the four schools: expedition-style driving," our instructor, Ben Wootten, told my brother and me. "On an expedition you're probably going out for five or six hours at a time in a place that you don't want to walk, so there are a few techniques we use to ensure that both the vehicle and the driver stay in good shape."
1. Thumbs outside the steering wheel. "The steering wheel moves when you hit a bump in the ground. We want to be sure we don't catch a thumb in the spokes of the wheel and have it move unexpectedly and crack a thumb, so thumbs outside."
2. Hands at 9 and 3—and don't let them cross 12 o'clock. "We want to try and keep our hands at approximately nine and three o'clock on the steering wheel. The moment you cross 12 o'clock, you're crossing the airbag, so the first thing to hit you if the airbag deploys is your fist, not the airbag. Try to avoid crossing 12 o'clock. It's difficult to do, but just remember 'punch in the face, punch in the face.' It also means that we have more finesse."
3. Make small corrections and steer in small increments. "This is really a game of inches."
4. Go Slowly. "There is no checkered flag at the end of the day. We're on an expedition and we're going to get there." (Five miles per hour is plenty fast for off-road driving.)
Gus watched from the backseat as I attempted to follow Ben's instructions. Not crossing 12 o'clock proved to be MUCH more difficult than I'd imagined.
Approaching a hill I pressed hard on the accelerator pedal to make it up the slope.
That was EXACTLY the wrong move, Ben told me. I should have approached it gradually because I gunned it so much that I got to the crest of the hill and had to slam on the brakes—which could have been deadly if there was a major drop-off on the other side (luckily, there wasn't).
I also had trouble keeping the front wheels straight—a key aspect of off-road driving. I found myself oversteering over and over again to try to account for an obstacle. My saving grace? The dashboard screen Ben showed us that displays the wheel position based on inputs from cameras positioned around the perimeter of the car's exterior (leaning out the window to check worked, too).
Gus had more luck—he kept his hands from crossing 12 o'clock on the steering wheel and took that same incline at a much safer speed. (I'm convinced it was because he had an hour to observe me at the helm making mistake after mistake.)
The Range Rover that Gus and I shared has moved on to the higher life, but it's nice to know that we can always go back to school and drive one in the terrain for which it was designed.
Original Source: http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/trucks/a16387/land-rover-experience-driving-school/?src=spr_TWITTER&spr_id=1457_206135909