First Drive: 2016 Range Rover Td6

Get more range from your Rover in the diesel-powered Td6

“There’s a 200 pound Gorilla leaping around the room, and I want to address it right now.” That’s how Peter Wright, Land Rover’s Principal Engineer, began his talk about the new 2016 Range Rover and Range Rover Sport Td6 models. Obviously, Wright’s Gorilla is the diesel emissions scandal currently engulfing Volkswagen. He went on to spend the next 15 minutes detailing not only the emissions management systems in the new Rover diesels, but also the multi-layered technical review systems in place to ensure that a similar scandal never occurs at Jaguar Land Rover. It’s good to get that information out in the open, because VW’s mismanagement should not pollute the environment for diesel engines generally.

The short version is that Land Rover uses the same emissions technology as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, a long-proven system that involves injecting some Diesel Exhaust Fluid made of urea and water into the exhaust stream. The urea combines with the exhaust gases to form ammonia, which turns into harmless nitrogen and water in the vehicle’s catalytic converter. The system cuts down the NOx emissions that are at the heart of VW’s problem.

2016 Range Rover Td6
Jeff Zurschmeide/Digital Trends
Jeff Zurschmeide/Digital Trends

The new 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6 was developed by Land Rover and generates 254 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque at just 1,750 rpm. The Td6 engine delivers 22 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and a combined figure of 25 mpg.

That may not sound like the fantastic mileage figures you’re accustomed to seeing with diesels, but it’s still a Range Rover, which means it weighs about 5,000 pounds. The diesel fuel economy figures are a full 32-percent better than you get with the comparable gas-powered Rovers, and you get slightly better 0 to 60 times and 658 miles of range on a full tank of rattle juice.

Speaking of rattle, that’s one thing you don’t get. If you listen carefully on startup, you’ll hear the familiar diesel sound, but once it’s running, you can forget you’re in a diesel. Land Rover has made the Td6 as quiet and smooth as any other Rover in the lineup. The diesel models still offer excellent acceleration and power to pass. With that noted, the only difference you care about is that you get to use the less-expensive diesel pump, and roughly twice a year you need to fill up the urea tank. Diesel Exhaust Fluid is available at any auto parts store for about $7.50 a gallon.

Plenty of range, still a Rover

There are two hearts to any Range Rover. The first is luxury and the second is its off-road capabilities. Every Rover comes with one of the most advanced 4WD systems in the world, plus a whole raft of features that help you navigate any terrain you might encounter.

The truth of the matter is that with a Range Rover, all you have to do is not drive off a cliff.

The essential paradox of a Range Rover is that the average American buyer is never going to do more off-roading than occasionally parking on the lawn at a Super Bowl party. Yet each and every Rover comes equipped to take on anything short of a competitive rock crawl. We proved that in the Arizona high country near Sedona, scrambling over rocks down a trail that was otherwise the exclusive province of adventure companies taking tourists on thrill rides in ATVs and fully-built Jeeps.

The Range Rover made short work of the ups and downs, and the handlers were way too generous with their compliments about our “wheeling” skills. The truth of the matter is that with a Range Rover, all you have to do is not drive off a cliff. Rover has a feature called All Terrain Progress Control, or ATPC. Think of it as hill descent control that works all the time. You simply turn it on and the Rover crawls over anything you put in front of it. Slippery surfaces, rocks, loose sand – none of it mattered. You use the cruise control functions to set your speed, and then use the various cameras positioned around the vehicle to make sure you don’t rip open a tire. Honestly, I spent more time making sure I didn’t scratch the wheels than worrying about getting over the rocks. When we were done with 10 miles of bad road, I took a look at the tires and they looked like we’d driven to the mall. A quick rinse with the hose and you’d be ready to head to the opera.

2016 Range Rover Td6
Jeff Zurschmeide/Digital Trends
Jeff Zurschmeide/Digital Trends

That’s the long and short of the off-road capability. Yes, there’s ride height control and a half-dozen different modes for varying types of terrain, there’s high range and low range, and a camera pointed at every wheel. You have video displays that show you wheel articulation and overall pitch and roll angles. The bottom line is that the Range Rover is much smarter and more capable than you, and if you ever get one stuck, it’s because you’ve well and truly screwed up.

Proper Range Rover luxury

Regardless of how easy it is to venture off road, the Range Rover in its natural habitat in the more sophisticated parts of town. In this case, that was winding its way around one of the most fashionable resort communities in Arizona. Out on the road, the Td6 is as smooth, quiet, and comfortable as you’ve come to expect from any Range Rover. The optional HSE front seats give you your choice of seven levels of heating and cooling, while the rear seats are simply heated. The full-size Range Rover offers a little more rear seat room than the smaller Range Rover Sport, but you can haul five people with ease in either rig.

You get a full suite of tech goodies, including one of the best GPS navigation systems on the market. You have an option to get full surround cameras in addition to the ones aimed at the wheels for off-road driving. Here’s a tip – those wheel cameras also make parallel parking an absolute breeze!

The interior is heavy on the leather and wood trim integrated with the required soft-touch synthetic materials. The headliner is made of Alston suede-cloth material, which is great. You get the feel of suede, but it’s much more durable for family use. With a vehicle in the class of a Range Rover, things come down to the details, and it’s clear that Rover sweats those until they’re perfect. The definition of a high quality interior (beyond the tech and the luxury materials) is mostly in build quality, such as making sure all the individual seams and the parts of the dash mate up evenly, and that the interior is free from squeaks and buzzes even when you’re off road. Take a moment and pay attention to those details on your test drive, because that’s key to the Rover value proposition.

Outfitted for your excursions?

Eventually, you have to get to the numbers. Range Rovers are great, but they don’t come cheap. The Range Rover Sport Td6 SE is the bargain of the bunch, starting at $67,445 (with all fees included). That’s a $1500 premium over the Supercharged gasoline V6, and the same diesel price bump is carried through in the higher trim HSE version, which will cost you $72,445. The full size Range Rover Td6 comes in at $87,445 for the base model, while the HSE diesel costs $94,445.

On the Range Rover Sport, the HSE package delivers the panoramic sunroof, full leather seating, 20-inch wheels (compared to 19s on the base model) and some additional wood trim and interior color options. On the full size Range Rover, you get about the same bump in features (including full front seat climate control and heated rear seats) but you’re starting from a better base feature set.

Honestly, the base SE trim on Range Rover Sport is still very nice, and I’d think twice before paying for the HSE upgrade. Same with the Range Rover – they want a lot for the upgrade. But I encourage you to try each of the models and decide for yourself. Don’t forget that there will still be option packages to select in addition to the trim level.

The bottom line is, whatever Range Rover you choose, the Td6 diesel is a credible option that doesn’t cost a lot more than the gasoline engines – and the only time you’ll know you’re in a diesel is when you pay less at the pump.

Highs

  • Range Rover Luxury
  • Excellent Off-Road Capability
  • Better Fuel Economy
  • More Bells and Whistles Than Anyone Else

Lows

  • Complicated operation
  • Big price jump for higher trim levels
  • The stuff you want is in option packs
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