2016 Range Rover Td6 HSE Review and Road Test

2016 Range Rover Td6 HSE

The nicest oil-burner in the country club parking lot.

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The nicest diesel you can buy, huh? What about the Germans? They make some swanky rigs too…

They certainly do, but they’re upstaged quite a bit by the Rangie. Even if you option out a BMW X5, Mercedes Benz GLS or an Audi Q7 (hard to do since you can’t have one at the moment because of fallout from Dieselgate) to the max you’ll have yourself a fine luxo-SUV but not one that can hold a candle to the Range Rover’s superior prestige. Settle into the fragrantly leather lined cockpit and the feeling of distinctive luxury is palpable. If it’s the poshest diesel full-size SUV you’re after, it has to be the one hailing from Blighty. If you put one in your driveway, you’ll be treated to fuel consumption numbers befitting of an eco-minded sedan and the ability to tow 3,500 kilos of whatever along for the journey. For those with a Muskoka McMansion which comes bundled with the long highway commute to get there and the need to schlepp a boat along, this is what you want.

The one shown here looks like it’s been modified by the aftermarket.

That’s what we thought, at first. There isn’t a single surface that hasn’t been blacked out, and usually this kind of aesthetic direction is one favored by guys who wear Ed Hardy shirts and have a tribal tattoo around their bicep. In the Range Rover’s case, however, it works- it seems understated but sinister, and drew more than its fair share of admiring glances. We normally frown on oversized wheels and tires but the 22 inchers on our test car are proportionate and fill out the wheel wells perfectly. Also, they don’t ruin the exceptional ride. If the whole black-on-black-on-black thing isn’t working for you, no matter- just don’t check off the option for the Gloss Black package, a move that’ll save you $4,200.

Has it still got what it takes off-road?

Most of the time, the Range hunkers purposefully on its large wheels, but with the ability to hike up the suspension significantly and adjust for varying kinds of terrain it will be ready for almost anything you can throw at it. Despite laudable breakaway and departure angles it might induce a few cringes as trees and rocks aim to scuff up the brilliant paint job, but if you are one of the very small percentage of owners who like to add an extra degree of adventure to your off pavement excursions you won’t be disappointed by the Range Rover’s capabilities; actually, considering the size, weight and general opulence, what it can do is quite a feat.

And how does it fare when you’re not off the beaten path?

Quite well, actually. For a vehicle weighing in at 2,215 kilograms the Range Rover is dynamically sound- it’s nearly the class of the field with perhaps the Porsche Cayenne the only entry capable of giving it a run for its money. The steering and brakes work with a sense of polish and confidence, but what really struck us was its body control and ride/handling balance. Any vehicle that wafts down the road soaking up imperfections with aplomb and then make short work of a pockmarked highway on-ramp without so much as a whimper from the chassis is pretty darn impressive in our books. You won’t be flogging the Td6 in the same way you would with the 5.0 litre supercharged monster under the hood- the diesel’s relaxed demeanour won’t urge you to rush the proceedings.

What might go wrong?

Although Range Rover’s reputation for shoddy build quality and mechanical issues is in the rear-view mirror for the most part, they aren’t fully in the clear yet. When you consider all the complex on-board electronics and sophisticated chassis hardware, the prospect of dizzying out-of-warranty repair bills is a real one- just ask anyone who’s had to shell out megabucks to repair the air suspension. Owners may find themselves at odds with the infotainment system and stop/start function as well. The touchscreen system went under the knife fairly recently and represents a big step forward from the one it replaces. It’s still maddeningly slow to respond to inputs and requires far too much attention to operate when cruising. Also in the Needs Work column is the way the diesel engine shuts itself off and then reignites at traffic lights. It comes back to life with an industrial grade shudder, hardly befitting a vehicle with such prestige (and a price tag to match.) We had a Ford Escape in the Carpages Garage at the same time as the Range Rover it manages a nearly transparent system that puts the Rangie to shame. Despite some minor imperfections, we think the Range Rover Td6 is the sweet spot of the entire lineup- it isn’t cheap, but it offers better fuel mileage, robust towing capability and that creamy torrent of irresistible diesel torque served up in posh surroundings that suit day-to-day driving quite well.

2016 Range Rover Td6 HSE- Specifications

  • Price as tested: $131,515
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger SUV
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/four-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Engine:  3.0 litre V6, DOHC, 24 valves
  • Horsepower:  254 @ 3,500 rpm
  • Torque (lbs-ft.): 440 @ 1,750 rpm
  • Curb weight: 2,215 kg (4,883 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel Consumption: 10.5L/100km (22 mpg)