Do you need a $95,000 SUV? Probably not. But, strangely, we've managed to find one that's worth it. Land Rover's off-road prowess needs no introduction, but even after all these years, the company has managed to package luxury, off-road capability, and exemplary ride quality into a vehicle that's essentially peerless.
The Range Rover HSE TD6 is a unique (for the US market, anyway) twist on an iconic vehicle. It's stately, classy, bold, expensive, and dressed with every luxury that you could ask for. It's also loaded -- and we mean loaded -- with technology, which partly explains why it costs as much as a small house.
We tested the Range in all manners of situations, from dusty farm roads to muddy ruts to two-lane back roads to crowded interstates. Predictably, we also pressed every button imaginable. Unlike most cars, where its consumer-facing tech is typically found in the dashboard, the Range Rover HSE TD6 conceals most of its technology. That doesn't make it any less remarkable, though.
Most Range Rover buyers won't ever take their vehicle on an unsealed road, and that's a crying shame. The new Range Rover HSE TD6 is as capable as any modern SUV. It handled like a dream on undulating farm roads, and shook off patches of mud and ruts like it was nothing. It's also capable of wading through streams up to 900mm deep, if you just so happen to find yourself in such a predicament.
Point is, there's really no SUV on the road today that can get itself out of as many situations as the Range Rover HSE TD6. Given that most folks will spend time on highways, though, it's worth praising the vehicle's on-road appeal.
Four-corner air suspension enables it to effectively sit on clouds. Indeed, the ride quality is as luxurious as any SUV we've ever been in. Even compared to the outgoing LR4 (Discovery 4 in some markets) and the new Discovery Sport, the Range Rover HSE TD6 is on an entirely different comfort level.
There's a reason you pay six figures for an SUV, and a multi-hour road trip in this makes it clear where the money goes. Smooth, steady, and gentle. And, on top of that, there's almost no body roll to speak of when quickly moving from one lane to another.
There's truly nothing else like the interior of a Range Rover. The leathers, the details, the stitching -- it's all perfect. Some of it is totally unnecessary, but that's sort of the point. One thing that Land Rover has struggled with, however, is infotainment. The outgoing system is awfully dated, but the 2017 Range Rover is equipped with a 12.3-inch virtual instrument panel, a killer head-up display, traffic sign recognition, and a mind-boggling amount of driving assist aides.
Just as we were enthralled by the amount of aide available in the Genesis G90, the Range Rover can detect lanes (and keep you in yours), adapt your cruise control based on the vehicle in front of you, brake for you if you take your eyes off of the road, and park for you.
In the center stack, there's a 10-inch touch panel that's equipped with the (vastly improved) InControl Touch Pro system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are still missing, which is indeed unfortunate, but it's such a huge leap forward from the outgoing system that we're willing to forgive.
On the audio front, the base level system is a Meridian 380W assortment that includes 12 total speakers. You can lose your mind and upgrade to a 28-speaker arrangement powered by an astonishing 1700W, but there's really no need. The base system was one of the most impressive we've heard, and the outstanding sound deadening throughout the vehicle ensured that rattles and creaks weren't present.
We generated something of a love/hate relationship with the front massaging seats. First off, you have to tap a physical button in the center stack, and then a soft button on the display when toggling it on. We would've far preferred a switch on the seat, right where your hand naturally ends up when fiddling for seat adjustments. Secondly, the massage function only remains on for ten minutes or so before inexplicably shutting off. So, when you're on a three-hour road trip, you'll be doing this process tens of times.
This wouldn't be an issue if the massage weren't ridiculously amazing. It genuinely helped our back feel fresher after a hundred miles of highway riding, and the fact that it's so good makes it painfully obvious when it kicks off. (Psst... Land Rover, let the masseuse stay on till we turn it off!)
Oh, the fuel economy!
Here's the most impressive piece of tech in the entire Range Rover HSE TD6: the engine. Yeah, Brits are laughing at our American amazement, but diesel-powered Range Rovers just haven't been a thing in the US market. Until now, of course.
The 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 is a laudable hunk of metal. With over 440 lb-ft of torque, it pulls like a monster off of the line. We felt a little awkward being so excited about the acceleration potential of a giant SUV, but hey -- that's a good problem to have.
The real magic, however, comes at the fuel pump. Range Rover vehicles have historically been guzzlers of gas. Premium gas, in fact. The diesel power plant here is staggeringly efficient. Over nearly 500 miles of mixed driving -- including everything from punching it off of the line, off-roading, 75MPH highway driving, and idling at a train track for 17 (!) minutes -- we averaged 28.6MPG. Mind you, this is in a rig that weighs 5,326 pounds, and operates on an all-wheel drive platform.
Still without equal
The Range Rover HSE TD6 is a much-needed addition to the Range Rover family. The 2016 edition that we tested relies on an infotainment system that's monumentally improved for 2017, but pretty much every other major amenity carries over. It feels a bit silly to say that this car is worth the money, but if you're in the market, it is. If you're not, you'd be wise to befriend someone who is.
The off-road technology is truly world-class, and paired with a new engine that gets better fuel economy than some four-door sedans, it's a lovely combination. It's also impossible to overstate just how marvelous the ride quality is. This is as close as you'll come to riding on a cloud while both a) on Earth and b) spending under a quarter-million on a vehicle.
We're still waiting for Land Rover to catch up on the infotainment side of things, but InControl Touch Pro is a start. We'd prefer CarPlay and Android Auto, primarily because smartphone makers can produce better user interfaces than designers who are strapped by automotive regulatory hurdles.
If you've never experienced what a Range Rover can do, point yourself to one of Land Rover's Global Driving Centers and invest in a demo drive. It's a relatively affordable way to spend quality time in a sterling vehicle while tackling difficult terrain. Better yet, find a friend who owns one and attend a Land Rover Owners Day with them. There's no chance you won't have a blast, but we take no responsibility for any car payments you mysteriously incur afterwards.
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