2016 Range Rover HSE Td6: The Best of Many Worlds

Strong points
  • Capable of tackling anything
  • Sense of arrival
  • Luxurious
  • Efficient and powerful diesel engine
Weak points
  • Infotainment screen can be slow to respond
  • Annoying throttle lag
  • Spotty reliability
Full report

Depending on where you live in this great big country of ours, the price of one litre of gas varies between $0.90 and $1.15. All things considered, gas is cheap at the moment. The question on all our minds is for how much longer? Yet times are generally good.

We Canadians love our SUVs and trucks and we’re showing no signs of cutting back on buying them. We are, however, demonstrating some cautionary measures where we’re opting for more efficient powertrain alternatives. In recent weeks, I’ve explored a number of them including diesel.

Oil burners have been well received in the last few years and JLR’s the latest manufacturer to offer diesel power. In my opinion, unless there exists a desire to shred rubber in an SVR Rover, the Td6 powertrain should be standard issue on the LR4, the RR Sport and the big one, which I drove.

It’s THE Range Rover

The Range Rover is the pinnacle of refined capability. These are Land Rover’s words and they paid someone loads of money to come up with them. And, I couldn’t agree more. Even though my tested HSE Td6 is the base version, it would be the only one I would consider.

Its base price of just under $110,000 is justified by the fact that it’s got everything in it as is. The sumptuous full Oxford perforated heated leather seats and steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, Grand Black lacquer and veneer trim, three-zone climate control, 8” touchscreen with navigation and Meridian sound system are but a handful of features that are included.

There is no doubt, at the sight of the Range Rover and once aboard, that this is a flagship vehicle. The standard 20” wheels and modern yet iconic design tell a story of grandeur and royalty. The same goes for the signature triple lines in the grille and on the front fenders, which position the utility vehicle at the summit of its category. Its clean, robust lines say more about its ability to tackle the urban jungle than climbing the Rockies, but if you know anything about the brand, you know it’s been there and done that.

The cabin is much the same, where royalty is concerned. Climbing into the multi-way adjustable perches feels right and rewarding. The dashboard’s relative simplicity brings breathing room to an otherwise busy environment. And by busy, I’m referring to textures, colours, materials and many varied surfaces.

The important HVAC controls are readily accessible and I was thankful for the redundant steering wheels mounted audio buttons. Unfortunately, and I was surprised, I found the HMI touchscreen to be slow to respond, occasionally taking far too long for the next screen to pop up. I’d thought this issue was behind JLR as the previous few vehicles I’d reviewed recently faired much better. A glitch perhaps.

As for comfort, the Range Rover has it all figured out – it’s as much to do with a solemn and solid feeling than it does with its quiet and smooth ride.

Diesel with air

The week prior to driving the RR, I was at the helm of a new BMW 750Li and I swear to you that the SUV rode better. It all has to do with the standard electronic air suspension that levels out all road imperfections. The way it adapts to road conditions is impressive, and eye opening.

The suspension and the new lightweight aluminum body play important roles in the Rover’s driving dynamics and appeal. Body roll is prominent but comforting. Never unnerving, the Range Rover feels light and composed despite its girth. The electronic power steering is devoid of feedback, but this is part of the Rover’s isolated, safe aura.

By comparison, I was disappointed in the recently reviewed Volvo XC90 where I found its ride quality to be lacklustre, at least in comparison to the RR. While I’m comparing notes, the PHEV Volvo and the massive Range Rover Td6 returned the exact same fuel economy numbers: 9.5 L/100 km.

The Volvo is fast and efficient, but doesn't feel as gratifying as does the turbocharged 3.0L V6 diesel mill. Well, there is one issue: throttle response is laggy, and lacks bite, even when set in Sport. Once the initial hurdle is crossed, the engine’s 254 horsepower and 440 lb.-ft. of torque (as of 1750 rpm) seemingly lift and thrust the truck forward. The standard eight-speed autobox keeps up with the Joneses, masterfully distributing the power to all four wheels.

Driving leisurely is what the Range Rover prefers, but if the hammer goes down, the moment torque roars in, the big ute takes off. It feels faster than it actually is, but what the Rover truly excels at is leaving the beaten path. Its sophisticated Terrain Response system works in conjunction with the permanent 4WD and two-speed transfer case to ensure that you’ll never have traction issues. Actually, only the street-biased tires limit the Rover’s abilities.

Jaguar Land Rover products suffer from a crucial issue and that is reliability. It’s a well-known fact that there are “safer” options out there, but every time I glide behind the wheel of a Land or Range Rover, I can imagine myself owning one, and not for the brand, but for the way it makes me feel. I look at it this way: Rovers are like California. I want to move there despite the fact that the Big One is coming. It’s not a matter of if, but when. And damnit, I’m willing to take a chance.

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