Test Drive: Range Rover HSE diesel, full review [video]

Test Drive: Range Rover HSE diesel, full review [video]

April 16th, 2016 by Mark Kennedy in Business Diary

The 2016 Range Rover is seen Monday, April 11, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

The 2016 Range Rover is seen Monday, April 11, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The 2016 Range Rover is seen Monday, April...

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

FAST FACTS

* Model: Land Rover's Range Rover HSE Td6

* Exterior color: Aintree Green

* Interior color: Ivory

* Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 diesel

* Horsepower: 254

* Transmission: eight-speed automatic

* Fuel economy: 29 mpg highway, 22 mpg city

* Local Dealer: Land Rover Chattanooga

* Price (as tewsted): $106,325


View other Test Drive stories by Mark Kennedy



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Land Rover, Land Rover, send your diesel on over!

Until now, that's been the lament of customers hoping to snag a diesel-engine equipped version of the opulent Range Rover luxury SUV, which had heretofore been stuck in Europe waiting for travel documents.

Well, let the fun begin.

The five-passenger 2016 Range Rover HSE Td6 has arrived on American shores from the British automaker Land Rover, and the results are impressive. Land Rover recently sent us an Aintree Green Range Rover HSE Td6 from its media test fleet, and, after several days of driving, were left wondering why anyone would opt for a gasoline-powered model.

Even with a curb weight of more than 4,700 pounds, the Range Rover diesel feels mystically light on its feet, like an NFL linebacker in ballet shoes. Over our mountain roads, it exhibited bursts of speed that sometimes seemed to defy gravity, or to at least stretch the laws of physics.

"It's extremely comfortable on a long trip, it provides status and styling that is second to none, (and) it is very powerful and will do anything you want it to do," explains James Vandermerwe, sales manager at Land Rover of Chattanooga, who said he has been using a Range Rover diesel as his daily driver for the past six weeks. Vandermerwe said the supply of Range Rovers in the pipeline is ample, and he can usually find vehicles to match his customers' specific desires.

Land Rover's Range Rover is considered by many to be the best sport-utility vehicle in the world. It combines luxury amenities with off-road chops. Put another way, it feels like a cross between a Rolls Royce and an Abrams battle tank. But that rare combination of beauty and brawn comes at a price. In the case of our tester the bottom line is $106,325 (base price $93,450).

If it helps, the Range Rover boasts fuel economy of 25 miles per gallon in mixed driving. That, along with modest diesel fuel prices (about the same as regular gas these days), should help you make your monthly payment. In a week of local driving, we barely moved the fuel needle on the Range Rover's big 23.5 gallon fuel reserve. With a range of 658 miles between fill-ups, one could drive from Chattanooga to Chicago on a single tank of diesel and still have fuel left over.

STYLING AND FEATURES

The exterior design of the Range Rover is boxy, yet timeless. Chrome lettering arrayed over an iconic grille announces the Range Rover as a premium piece. The Range Rover is both tall (6 feet) and long (16 feet-plus), and it towers over the road. From the driver's seat, you'll be looking down on most other motorists not driving 18-wheelers.

The Aintree Green color has a metallic luster and is a bit daring for Range Rover customers, who often seem to opt for more pedestrian models in black or white. Low-hanging chrome spears tie the design together. Meanwhile, a power rear hatch opens like a huge mouth which can swallow up to 71 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seats folded flat.

As you'd expect on an S.U.V. with a $93,000-plus base price, the Range Rover includes a host of luxury features including standard Oxford leather seats — which are heated and ventilated in the front — a huge panoramic sun roof and a touch screen interface with voice-controlled navigation.

One feature we could live without is an automatic speed limiter that somehow got activated during a morning commute. The pesky governor wouldn't let us go faster than 20 mph, and by the time we found a spot to pull-over and deactivate the feature by pushing a button on the center stack, several cars had fallen in line behind us.

A $2,900 driver assist package adds lane-departure warning, paralleling park assist and a head-up display. A rear seat entertainment package adds $2,400 to the package, and a Meridian stereo upgrade tacks on $1,850. The cockpit of the Range Rover feels like a well-furnished living room, with plenty of padded surfaces and wood veneers. The door architecture alone, with it's perfectly matched color tones and rich surfaces, is a work of art.

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

The Range Rover is a brilliant piece of engineering, and packs a whopping 440 pound-feet of torque. According to its spec sheet, the Range Rover can tow up to 7,716 pounds. Meanwhile, Road and Track clocked the big S.U.V. in the 0-60 mph sprint in 7.4 seconds, respectable if not neck-snapping.

In a week of driving in the hilly terrain of Eastern Tennessee the Range Rover scampered up mountain roads. In fact, it was hard to hold the Range Rover at posted speed limits. Seventy miles per hour feels like 50 in this S.U.V. Due to the enormous torque, power is delivered to the four-wheel-drive system instantaneously.

A diesel rumble is barely audible at idle, and the powerplant meets all of U.S. emissions standards. Land Rover uses urea injections to limit NOx emissions. Under most driving conditions it's easy to forget that there's a turbocharged diesel under the Range Rover's hood.

The new vehicle warranty on the Range Rover stretches for four years or 50,000 miles.

BOTTOM LINE

The Range Rover has emerged as the ultimate suburban status symbol, marking its owners as people with discriminating tastes. For those willing and able to shop for six-figure vehicles, it combines the virtues of an elegant passenger car with those of an all-season, all-terrain utility vehicle.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/mkennedycolumnist.


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