It has been 42 years since the first Range Rover hit the trails, and while its original utilitarian design has been softened through the generations, the SUV has only grown in capability thanks to new technologies and clever engineering. The redesigned 2013 Range Rover due to reach dealerships in December could be the most striking example of that evolutionary progress yet.

Shown in the United States for the first time in September, the new Range Rover maintains the nameplate’s classic shape while moving forward with new design elements like swept-back LED headlights and a backward-sloping roof. Engineers have pulled off a similar feat underneath the new sheet metal, giving the Range Rover the capabilities that fans of the brand expect while making significant strides in fuel efficiency.

“Though it’s an all-new model, the 2013 Range Rover is still instantly recognizable, both in the way it looks and in the way it performs,” said Michael Koltz, general manager of Land Rover Bedford, a Land Rover dealership in New Hampshire. “Land Rover knows that even its iconic vehicles need to evolve, and buyers will soon find a Range Rover that is more intuitive and fuel efficient, yet just as capable.”

Much of the new Range Rover’s efficiency gains come from a drastic loss in weight. Featuring the world’s first all-aluminum SUV unibody structure, which is 39 percent lighter than the steel body of its predecessor, the 2013 Range Rover has dropped about 700 pounds. The result is an 11-percent increase in highway fuel economy according to figures supplied on the Land Rover website, as well as improved acceleration.

Under the hood, the Range Rover’s now-familiar 5.0-liter V8 remains the standard engine, but its power is diverted to all four wheels as needed by a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Helping everything work in concert is Land Rover’s latest Terrain Response system, which matches driveline behavior to the road or trail conditions, either automatically or as directed by the driver through controls on the center console.

The arrival of the 2013 Range Rover should help Land Rover further bolster its U.S. sales, which have increased 18 percent year-to-date through October compared to the same period last year. Last month, the automaker’s best-selling vehicle continued to be the Range Rover Sport, with 1,391 units sold. Even as it maintains its popularity in the showroom, the dynamic SUV will receive its own full redesign for the 2014 model year, built on the same lightweight platform as the new Range Rover.

“Land Rover is constantly working to go to market with all-new vehicles like the Range Rover Evoque, as well as redesigned models like the 2013 Range Rover and 2014 Range Rover Sport,” added Koltz. “While customers can expect to see a lineup that is substantially revised over the next few years, they can rest assured that the qualities they have come to love will still be ever present.”