By Barbara and Bill Schaffer
When you’ve been around the automotive business as long as we have (25+ years) you develop some distinct likes and dislikes. For example, one of our favorite luxury SUVs has been the Range Rover. What’s not to like — it’s plush, comfortable, fast and it goes over rugged off road terrain like a mountain goat.
Statistically we’ve been told that Range Rover owners even tend to go off road significantly more than the typical SUV owner. Never the less, we see shinny Range Rovers mostly on the highways and in upscale neighborhoods – they are a very big status symbol.
One of the only Range Rovers weak spots we have found is fuel economy, which runs in the 19 to 23 mpg highway range. But that’s probably not too bad when you consider that the new Range Rover engines typically range from a 340-hp supercharged V-6 up to a 510-hp supercharged V-8.
This year the Land Rover engineers have added a new engine choice to the Range Rover menu, a 254-hp 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 diesel. Pumping out 443-lb.ft. of torque, this new engine moves the two and one-half ton SUV along briskly accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in just 7.1 seconds, and to a top track speed of 130 mph.
The best feature of the new diesel engine is the fuel economy, which the EPA pegs at 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined. During our week in the Td6, we averaged 28.1 mpg in with about two-thirds highway and one-third stop and go city street driving. That’s better than the fuel economy ratings listed for most small SUVs. The only off road we had time for was an occasional parking lot.
The U.S. Td6 diesel is direct injected, with double overhead cams and a single turbocharger. The engine produces 440-lb.ft. of torque at 1,750 rpms. Which is just shy of the supercharged V-8’s torque rating and more than 100-lb.ft. more than the V-6 and the diesel power arrives at half the RPMs of the gasoline engines. That means the diesel is better suited for towing heavy loads and off-roading where reaching the maximum torques at a lower gear is extremely beneficial. You also feel it on the highways with its smooth linear acceleration. It’s this underlying strength of diesel engines that make them fun to drive.
The basic diesel engine has been used in European Land Rovers for years and to power various related models. The U.S. version has a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system which uses Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) to reduce NOx emissions. The inexpensive DEF is injected into the exhaust and, as the resulting mixture passes through the SCR, NOx is turned into harmless nitrogen gas. The DEF reservoir needs to be replenished periodically by the owner or at a Land Rover store.
Like the gasoline engines, the diesel is paired with ZF’s eight-speed automatic transmission. That’s the same smooth shifting transmission that is also used in many performance cars and it’s been one of our favorites.
The diesel model is equipped with the same permanent four-wheel drive with Torsen® center differential and single-speed transfer case with Electronic Traction Control as the gasoline-powered models. It also has an available electronically controlled infinitely variable locking center differential with two-speed electronic transfer gearbox with shift-on-the-move capability.
The distinctive styling of the Land Rover Range Rover adds to the status symbol cache with its smooth clean styling and large window areas. Inside the flagship Range Rover interior is refined with rich leathers, simple lines and the feeling of quality and luxury.
Typical of luxury vehicles, the Range Rover has an extensive list of features and technologies that add to the comfort, convenience and safety of the passengers. The infotainment screen operation in the new Range Rover has been improved considerably from previous models, but it still not as quick and as intuitive as some systems we’ve used.
The 2016 Range Rover is available in a standard or long wheel base with a choice of four engines. The diesel engine (Td6), however, is only available on the standard wheel base version which has a base price of $85,945, including the destination charge. Our test vehicle included a hand full of significant option packages which took the bottom line price to just over $107,000.
It’s an expensive vehicle, but it is an exceptional vehicle and the diesel engine adds a whole new dimension of performance.