Expert Reviews

Test Drive: 2016 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Td6

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This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

There’s something reassuring about looking at your January calendar and seeing “Range Rover Td6” penciled in for the end of month. C’mon Old Man Winter, bring it on. Give me your worst. I’ll be flipping you the middle digit while my other hand warms on the soft leather of the RR’s heated steering wheel. From my imperious and sybaritic perch I will pass wind in your general direction. Me and Rangie shall go through you like tinfoil through a dog.

The Td6 (mated to the ubiquitous ZF eight-speed manumatic) moves the Rangie along in a more relaxed manner. But never does it feel slow. That fat wallop of torque is like the Hand of God on your tailgate, moving you ahead with unrelenting urge.

Oh wait… this 2016 Range Rover Td6 is wearing 275/40x22 Continental all-season-tires. In January? Say it isn’t so! Tsk tsk.

Having taken part in enough snowy tire events to know that all-season rubber compromises braking distances by 25-30 percent when compared to winter tires (with a commensurate deficiency in lateral grip), I’m not about to test these principles in a 2,215 kg sport brute with an as-tested sticker of $127,490.

Inappropriate tire issues aside, this “entry level” diesel-powered Range Rover Td6 is nothing but good news, starting with its $108,490 MSRP that undercuts the 510 hp 5.0L supercharged V8 gasoline model by $8,000. Additionally, with projected fuel economy of 10.5 L/100 km city and 8.0 highway (against 17.2/12.5 for the V-8) you’ll be filling up less often and emitting considerably less CO2 – 182 g/km versus 299 g/km. Hence, despite being the size of a garden shed and having similar aerodynamic properties, this diesel-fed Range Rover has green cred and will leave more cash in your wallet.

My week of mostly highway commuting netted a stellar 9.0 L/100 km, which is a better showing than the Golf R I drove the previous week (10.1 L/100 km).

New for 2016 in North America, this turbocharged diesel 3.0L V6 (that traces its roots back to Land Rover’s Ford era) suits the regal ute to a tee. Yes, the Td6’s modest power rating of 254 horses looks a little weak on paper, but don’t be dissuaded. As with all turbo diesel power plants, the torque does the talkin’, and here we have 440 lb-ft on board from 1,750 rpm.

Unlike the supercharged 5.0L V8 which admitted storms with unbridled enthusiasm, the Td6 (mated to the ubiquitous ZF eight-speed manumatic) moves the Rangie along in a more relaxed manner. But never does it feel slow. That fat wallop of torque is like the Hand of God on your tailgate, moving you ahead with unrelenting urge. The Td6 is remarkably quiet too – more so than rival diesel V6s from BMW, Benz and Porsche. At idle there’s a hint of some clatter, but once underway you’d be hard pressed to know there’s a diesel under the long bonnet. Tow ratings for the diesel and gas Range Rovers are the same at 3,500 kilograms – the $900 Tow pack required.

On the Range: By The Numbers: Land Rover Range Rover TD6 Diesels

Td6 emissions have been cleaned up for North America via the de rigueur urea exhaust treatment, with a DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) reservoir that’s good for 16,000 kilometers.

The Td6 is also available in the Range Rover Sport for 2016.

As with all Range Rovers, driving is a full-boat luxury experience, combining an exquisitely crafted interior with a commanding view of the road. There’s not a lot of sport in this ute as steering is a tad vague and it shows some real nautical grade listing when pressing through corners, but by all the Lords in London, the Td6’s air suspension delivers a marvellously smooth ride. Best this side of a Rolls-Royce Phantom in my books. And that spells luxury in no uncertain terms.

New for 2016, the air suspension settles to it lowest position when the vehicle is in park, allowing for easier access. But make no mistake, this is a big ute, and for those shorter of stature it’s still a fair way up. Worth the trip though.

Done up in Ebony and Ivory leather (Sir Paul would approve), this cabin exudes unbridled British elegance from its creamy hides to the finely polished Grand Black Lacquer Wood Trim. The Rangie’s blocky architecture is holding up well, although some elements are showing their age. The central digital gauge cluster is not state-of-the-art crisp and the infotainment touchscreen is clunky and slow to respond. Poking away at a recalcitrant screen is just so… bothersome. Additionally, the voice command system was useless when trying to select radio stations. Say “ninety-nine point one FM” in just about any other vehicle and it knows what you want. Here, I just got “Sorry?”

The complaints pretty much stop there. The optional 825-watt Meridian audio ($1,850) is truly wonderful, massaging the ears with clear, even and uncoloured sound. Your back gets the same treatment from the fine massage function in the heated and vented front chairs. At the risk of sounding like a spoiled first-world dingus, I’ve experienced much worse seat massage systems in some German luxury cars. To whit, the Rangie does not feel like there’s a maniacal gnome trapped in the upholstery, trying to punch his way out.

Just like in the real world, massages aren’t free. This feature is part of the $3,900 Front and Rear Seat Climate Control package that also bestows four-zone climate control, Oxford Leather, 18-way driver and passenger front seats with adjustable seat bolsters, climate front and rear seats, driver and passenger memory, rear bench seat with load through facility and power recline, and a front cooler compartment.

New for 2016 is the $450 InControl Protect. Download the app and you can remotely lock and unlock, start the engine, activate the lights and horn to locate the vehicle, check if a window is open and check on fuel and fluid levels. Additionally, the feature provides stolen vehicle location and emergency services.

Naturally, the Range Rover Td6 offers all the expected off-road prowess associated with the legendary nameplate. Aping the rotary gear selector on the centre console is a knob for the five-mode Terrain Response 2. The retracted position has the system in Auto which automatically reads the terrain and optimizes the Range Rover’s throttle response, traction-control, gearbox and centre differential accordingly. Push it and it pops up, enabling one to manually select the modes (Snow, Sand, Mud/Ruts, Pestilence/Armageddon, Peasant Revolt) and see the cute little icons light up as you twist the knob.

For such a huge vehicle, rear seat leg room is adequate but not overly generous. The full limo experience requires an $8,000 stretch to the Long Wheelbase version. The powered split tailgate is a nice feature, and now comes with standard swing-your-foot-under-the-bumper activation. Sensors are on the side so you can do it from the sidewalk.

Land Rover Canada expects the Td6 to account for forty percent of Range Rover HSE sales. Now that there is a, er, cloud hanging over diesel-ingesting vehicles right now, it would be a shame if that affected the take rate of this highly desirable version of RR’s flagship all-aluminum hedonistic hauler.

4 years/80,000 km; 4 years/80,000 km powertrain; 6 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 4 years/80,000 km roadside assistance

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Model Tested 2016 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Td6
Base Price $108,490
A/C Tax
Destination Fee $1,575
Price as Tested $127,490
Optional Equipment
Driver Tech Pack $2,500; In Control Protect Package $450; Meridian audio $1,850; 22-inch 5 split-spoke alloys $3500; Tow Pack $900; Climate Comfort pack – front and rear $3,900; Wood Leather steering wheel $425; illuminated tread plates $1,200; adaptive cruise $1,500; Premium Pack $1,100