By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
We were disappointed to see so many automakers dropping diesel engine cars and light trucks over the last few years. We?ve advocated diesel engines because of their better fuel economy numbers and good performance. Plus, scientific studies have shown that properly configured diesel engines are cleaner than gasoline engines.
Diesel-power is still available
About 45 percent of the new cars sold in Europe are diesel-powered, but in the U.S. fewer than 5 percent are diesel. Fortunately, a few manufacturers have maintained diesel offerings and there are even a couple of manufacturers adding new diesel products.
Better than ever
The Range Rover is always one of our favorite test vehicles because they are so comfortable, opulent and fun to drive. After spending a week recently in the 2018 Range Rover HSE Td6 we can report it is better than ever.
New LED headlights
The exterior has received minor updates, but with a new LED headlight system to see even better at night and the interior has received multiple changes to make it even more comfortable.
A more spacious cabin
Gerry McGovern, Chief Design Officer, Land Rover explains the interior changes, ?The new interior provides a more refined and spacious cabin than ever, with a focus on improving the customer experience from the very first contact. With this in mind, we have used higher quality materials to create a truly luxurious experience. The wider seats and enhanced stowage are obvious changes, but it is the little touches throughout that combine to make this such a compelling design.?
26 Percent better fuel economy
Land Rover and Jaguar diesel vehicles are some of our favorites. They are powerful, smooth operating, quiet and clean. But the clincher for us it the big increase in fuel economy. For example, the Range Rover?s smallest gasoline engine, a 340-hp, 3.0-liter V-6, has an EPA fuel economy rating of 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. The 254-hp diesel (which produces 33 percent more torque) is rated at 22/28/24-mpg. That?s 26 percent better than the gasoline engine in the combined rating.
The diesel engine attached to the outstanding ZF eight-speed transmission propels 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. We think those are impressive numbers for a 5,000-pound SUV.
Better for towing
The U.S. Td6 diesel is direct injected, with double overhead cams and a single turbocharger. The engine produces 443-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. above the gasoline V-6 torque. 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. All the Range Rover models have a 7,716-pound towing capacity. 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.
Permanent four-wheel drive
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.
Status symbol styling
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.
Luxury and high-tech features
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 2018 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 $88,345, including the destination charge. Our test HSE vehicle included a hand full of significant option packages which took the bottom line price to just over $108,040.
A Plug-in Hybrid Electric model in 2019
Land Rover will offer a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) in 2019 with a 296-hp four-cylinder engine and 114-hp electric motor to create a total 398-hp output and 482-ft.lb. of torque. It will use a 13.1 kWh lithium-ion battery and will have a range of up to 31 miles when full charged. It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds and have a top speed of 137 mph.
Expensive, but worth it
Yes, the Range Rovers are expensive, but they are exceptional vehicles and the diesel engine adds a whole new dimension of performance and economy. We?ll be anxious to drive the PHEV when it comes out.