Going Off-Road in the 'Wilderness' of Blue Ash

Photo provided by Jaguar Land Rover Cincinnati

The truth of the matter is that most people who buy off-road vehicles never really take their SUVs for a romp in the mud, dirt or over rugged terrain. But it’s nice to know you can. 

It’s also true that some utility vehicles aren’t really built for a serious off-road beating, as many SUV makers have gone “soft” in recent years with designs that favor better fuel mileage and riding comfort. But the iconic Land Rover is one utility vehicle that still gets high marks for its wilderness capabilities, even as the British-built Range Rover line resembles a luxury vehicle. 

Land Rover buyers who do want a taste of the roughing-it experience can head to the wilds of Blue Ash. The region’s only dealership, Jaguar Land Rover Cincinnati, has built a three-acre off-road course complete with rocky paths, hills and mud and a fairly deep faux riverbed. Four times a year, those who bought a new vehicle in the previous six months or so are invited to get them dirty by trying out the track in the rear of the facility. 

“We’re the only dealer in the country with a track like this. The purpose is to let customers see what their new Land Rover is capable of,” says Jennifer Broadus, communications manager. “Most customers will never actually go off-roading and this is their chance. We provide doughnuts, coffee, bagels and lunch. And we give them a car wash when they’re done.”

The touch of off-road wildness is in contrast to the elegance of the rest of the Jaguar Land Rover facility owned by long-time Cincinnati commercial real estate developer Ed Neyra. He purchased the dealership from the Richard Lindner family after receiving the approval of Tata Motors Ltd., which had acquired the esteemed Jaguar and Land Rover lines from Ford. Neyra built a luxurious facility with Italian tile floors, wood trim, etched glass and subtle lighting opening to a relaxed pond setting complete with statues and benches before one gets to the gritty off-road course. 

Land Rover corporate driving instructors say they find many owners are more willing to take their vehicles into the wilderness when they get to be seven or eight years old, perhaps less worried about dinging or scratching the vehicle. But reviews of the 2016 Range Rover say it’s plenty ready from day one for rugged off-roading with its computerized four-wheel drive system that figures out which wheels provide the best traction and an all-terrain control panel with settings for snow, mud, water or sand. 

“For many people, going through the course is the only chance they get to understand how the system works on different terrains,” Broadus says. 

The dealership also invites its Land Rover fans and customers to the annual Equestrian Games, held the week before the Kentucky Derby, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. “They have a pavilion and tailgating spots just for Land Rover customers,” says Broadus. “Land Rover corporate has a contest for the best British-decorated car. And Land Rover has an off-road course at the horse park where people can sign up and drive the vehicles there.”

Jaguar Land Rover Cincinnati is also a major sponsor of the annual Ronald McDonald House Red Tie gala, a charity event dear to Neyra. The dealership gives away a Drive the Dream Weekend (use of a Jaguar or Land Rover for a weekend) and an Off-Road Adventure where someone can bring up to 12 people for a private outing on the off-road track.

Jaguar Land Rover Cincinnati is located at 9115 Blue Ash Road, Cincinnati, OH 45242. You can reach them at 513.791.1000 or visit cincyjlr.com.