Apart from being known as the world standard in luxury utility vehicles, the Range Rover name has a legendary reputation.
Sitting atop Land Rover’s lineup, the full-size Range Rover stickers anywhere from $108,000 to well over $200,000, depending on configuration. In the past, the entry-level motor has been a full-bore V8, but a huge number of consumers have begged for a more efficient model. Along with the introduction of the TD6 diesel option, there’s a fuel-sipping V6 model. We grabbed the keys to a 2016 Range Rover HSE V6 at an American media event and set off on a drive into the mountainside.
To stay true to the legend’s heritage, the Range Rover’s design has been unchanged since its last redesign for model year 2013. The current body style is a natural evolution of the classic Range Rover look, with more modern touches such as LED lighting, stunning new wheel designs, and available design touches such as contrast roof paint and various customizations from the factory. Our tester was painted in a netural Kaikoura Stone Metallic, with gorgeous 20” alloy wheels. I love this paint scheme because although it’s not the most vibrant, it’s low-key and modest, and makes for an exceptional family chariot or mobile office.
The interior is one of the many features that make the Range Rover one of the most special utility vehicles available to the Canadian public. Finished in a lovely contrast between Ivory, Espresso, and Almond-coloured materials, the cabin of this full-size beast is an incredibly plush place to be. The leather that upholsters the seats is amazingly supple, the fine wood that lines the dashboard and console is gloss and genuine, and every single piece of material that’s visible to the driver and all passengers is very nice to the touch. After all, the cabin is where you spend all of your time; if you’re putting out over $100,000 for your car, why not be spoiled in this regard?
A whole slew of other SUVs push the six-figure price point, including but not limited to the BMW X5, the Mercedes-Benz GLS and G-Class, and the Porsche Cayenne. What makes the Range Rover special to me is the driving position. Not only are you surrounded with the finest materials available; the driving position is authoritative and very comfortable at the same time. Commandeering the big Range Rover HSE down the highway or even the winding mountainside of New York State is like watching an IMAX movie sitting in your favourite barcalounger, one that fits you like a custom tailored suit. The sightlines are sensational, the ride is one of the smoothest out there, and it packs sufficient space for a family of four to travel in blissful comfort and sublime quietness.
Shuttling the Range Rover HSE along is the entry-level motor in the full-size lineup, a supercharged 3.0L V6. This motor is also available in the Land Rover LR4 as well as the Range Rover Sport, the Jaguar XJ, XF and even the F-Type. It’s an impeccably smooth motor that pushes out 340 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, which peaks between 3,000 and 5,000RPM. Cruising highway speed of 100km/h arrives in just 7.1 seconds, which isn’t particularly slow considering just how much weight the Range Rover has to lug around. A ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission, capable of creamy smooth shifts (both up and down) sends power to all four wheels.
The Range Rover was the SUV pioneer of an all-aluminum monocoque structure, which cut about 930lb from its overall weight. This is certainly noticeable, because while the HSE does feel substantial on the road, it drives like a much smaller vehicle. It’s made even more pleasurable with a soft, smooth throttle, excellent response from both pedals as well as the steering and transmission, and a terrain response system that easily adapts the big ute to almost any situation. Handling is similarly slick and the suspension setup minimizes body roll – at least, as much as it can for a large SUV.
Our test vehicle added to the base $108,490 sticker of the full-size Range Rover with a series of useful options. Noteworthy features included a contrast-coloured roof (with panoramic sunroof) in Santorini Black, a Meridian 825W stereo, four-zone climate control, power rear seats, massaging front seats, Terrain Response 2, mood lighting, adaptive xenons, surround camera system, park assist, lane departure warning, heads-up display, and soft close doors. Essentially loaded, this model comes in around the $125,000 mark as tested. I do wish that for this price, LED headlights were standard equipment.
Land Rover’s official figures for fuel economy on the Range Rover HSE are 14.0L/100km in the city and 10.5L/100km on the highway, for a combined rating of 12.4L/100km. Over about 400km of mountain roads and interstate cruising, our test vehicle displayed an average of 11.6L/100km. Comparing this economy to the combined 15L/100km of the last V8-powered Range Rover we tested, the difference is staggering. Given the fact that the Range Rover’s massive fuel tank will accept 105L of premium fuel, we think it’s safe to assume that a theoretical 1000km range is easily doable on an extended all-highway road trip.
With this year’s introduction of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit technology as well as a freshened take on Cadillac’s CUE, there’s fierce competition for infotainment within the automotive realm. Land Rover’s touchscreen system is clean to look at and responsive enough, but I can’t wait until their latest system, seen in the Discovery Sport and forthcoming new Jaguar XF, makes its way into the Range Rover. That new system will undoubtedly complement the theatrical 825W Meridian stereo and digital TFT gauge cluster perfectly.
The Range Rover name dates back to 1970, and the Land Rover parent company goes back to 1948. It’s not easy to maintain a reputation of making some of the world’s most capable, luxurious, and powerful SUVs, but the British brand has managed to hold their place on the podium. Even after the brand was transferred into the ownership of the India-based Tata Motors in 2008, there has been no deterioration of quality or precision. This 2016 Range Rover HSE V6 is a prime example of one of the best sport utility vehicles on the road today. The view of the road ahead from the Range Rover’s driver’s seat continues to be a constant reminder of your existing success and foresight to even more success to come.