On the outside, it looks like the gas version, but efficiency lies within

2016 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Td6 Review

The diesel lives on in rugged and regal form

By: Amos Kwon

Web2Carz Editor-In-Chief

Published: April 20th, 2016

It's obvious to anyone who has read the automotive news in the past year. Diesels are taking hits left and right since VW pretty much deep-sixed their already struggling reputation here American. And that's unfortunate since diesels offer more than meet the eye. They're potent powertrains with high efficiency and torque, and now Land Rover thinks customers who want the pomp and circumstance of their Range Rover and also want to mileage gains will go for the new Td6.

But contrary to popular belief, Range Rover diesels have been around for decades overseas, so they're not exactly new to the brand. The heritage, however, may not matter as much as what the Td6 actually offers its buyers. We got a hold of one to review recently and were pleased more than surprised, but that's still a very good thing since it shows a premium brand avoiding the plug-in hybrid route, one that others are taking on with fervor. Here's our full take on the big diesel luxury off-roader.

  • Driving Impressions

    The V-6 turbo-diesel throws out 254 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque, and you feel the strength once you get over the turbo lag. Power is strong but not jarring, and it gets similar performance to the gas powered V6. All this and 29 mpg highway, which beats quite a few mid-size CUVs that are lighter and smaller. The eight-speed transmission isn't exactly quick shifting, but for this segment, it's more than sufficient. On road, it's incredibly composed and should satisfy those who want peace, quiet, and some serious ride height.

    We didn't take the Td6 off-road, but we did manage to do a drive with the gas Range Rover on canyon drives in Utah, which proved that the Range Rover can handle pretty much anything even in all-season tires. It's an ox that will pretty much never get exploited by the average consumer.

    • Ride Quality: There's virtually nothing in this segment that rides as nicely as a Range Rover, and the Td6 is no exception. It's comfortable on road and off and takes bumps like a relaxed dromedary.
    • Steering: Though we wouldn't say it has great feel, the steering is pretty precise, and you can point the Td6 where you want it to go, and it will follow.
    • Acceleration: We would've liked better throttle response, but once the Td6's torque kicks in, the power is strong.
    • Braking: Good progressive brakes that don't feel the least bit vague.
    • Handling: Though there's ample body lean, taking the Td6 through some esses proved very satisfying. This is a big beast that can take the curves without losing composure.

  • Technology and Safety

    If there's one Achilles heel in the Range Rover, it's the infotainment system. Though we wouldn't say it's awful like the first-gen Cadillac CUE system was, it certainly could use some improvement. The home menu is clear enough with touchscreen menu buttons that reside on the outer edges of the screen, but there are too many layers and non-intuitive paths that need to be simplified. It also sucked at advancing music from our smartphones, sometimes failing to work altogether.

    The system works ok once you get used to everything, but for a car of this reputation and price, things should be less complicated and operate more smoothly. It's the one aspect of the car that annoyed us the most.

    • Infotainment Screen Size/Quality: The 8-inch touchscreen is clear and crisp but sometimes lacks responsiveness. It's highly legible, but it needs a more intuitive functionality.
    • Bluetooth Phone Pairing: It paired with our smartphones easily but had trouble re-pairing often when we got on successive drives. Very annoying. Music play also had some hiccups.
    • Voice/Sound Quality: No sound quality issues with phone calls. Audio quality from the Meridian system was superb.
    • Controls: The climate control system is a good one with knobs and digital displays within the knobs to keep things simple. Transmission knob and Terrain2 selector are also a breeze. Great job, Land Rover.
    • Safety: The Td6 lacks nothing in this department with blind spot monitor with Closing Vehicle Sensing & Reverse Traffic Detection and lane departure warning with traffic sign recognition, perpendicular and parallel park with park exit, and 360-degree Park Distance Control. All of these systems work incredibly well.

  • Exterior Design & Styling

    There's pretty much nothing about the Td6's exterior design that's different from the gas-powered version. The same handsome sheetmetal is present with fairly unadorned sides, only decorated by the door ornamental work, and a single character line that runs the full length of the vehicle. Only subtle HSE Td6 badging shows up on the rear of the vehicle to distinguish it from its gas-brethren. Overall, we love the Range Rover's adherence to its classic shape and big greenhouse.

    • Front: Tapering xenon headlights that flank and touch the grille look great with the LED ellipses. Land Rover has kept the vents and lower fascia crisp and uncomplicated. The pattern on the grille is unique and one of the best-executed versions in the auto industry.
    • Rear: The tapering tailights match the fronts, and a single chrome bar joins them. Classic "Range Rover" lettering looks great just below the rear glass.
    • Profile: Land Rover has kept the iconic shape, and the floating roof with black pillars all around destroys the notion that this styling element has to look bad.

  • Driver and Passenger Comfort

    Land Rover pays attention to their seats as exemplified by pretty much all of their models' bolstering and support for the front seat occupants. The Td6 is more of the same, and nothing needs to be changed, really. The armrests that deploy and adjust in angle are brilliant and actually usable. There's really nothing about the seating front or rear that seems lacking and everyone involved will experience comfort for long drives.

    • Front Seats: Tall and wide, these seats should make everyone happy thanks to good bolstering and great overall support in the seat back and seat cushion. The heating is ridiculously warm, bordering on lava-rock hot on its highest setting.
    • Rear Seats: Ample room for three with good thigh support. It's not a long wheelbase version, but it's still pretty big.
    • Visibility: One of the best in the segment thanks to a massive greenhouse, big glass and not over-sized pillars.

  • Storage and Cargo Room

    For something this big, storage should be impressive. The rear cargo compartment isn't the biggest in the segment, but with the seats down you get a 71.7 cubic feet of storage space, and that's pretty good. The power liftgate and the fold-down rear section along with power folding rear seats, and you have a recipe for premium convenience. Though you won't want to throw mounds of gravel into the back, it can easily tackle fair to middling hauling jobs, but it's probably more suited for the kennel show than home improvement errands.

    • Storage: The center armrest compartment is deep and wide, swallowing all but the largest of accessories. Door pockets are easily accessible and fold out but lack volume. Cupholders show up beneath that nifty retractable sliding door but need more depth for us Americans.
    • Trunk/Cargo Room: Not voluminous by any means, but Land Rover makes loading and unloading a breeze with power liftgates (top and bottom) and second row power folding seats. Everyone at this price point should be doing this.

  • Final Impressions

    It may not be true that buyers who can afford a $100K+ Range Rover care a lick about mileage, but we've been wrong before. The Td6 does a couple of things for the brand. First, it provides an efficient vehicle that still carries forth the brand ethos without totally thumbing its nose at everyone. Second, it shows the world that automakers care about diesel power, at the very least because it provides the kind of performance premium SUV customers expect thanks to the diesel torque while still offering more than respectable efficiency for something this honkin' big.

    The Td6 only costs $1,500 more than the V6 gas Range Rover, and it's likely the savings will rack up quickly for this car. There's no sacrifice in performance and handling, so why not go for the diesel version of an already spectacular SUV?

  • Price & Specifications

    Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 diesel

    Transmission: 8-speed automatic

    Drivetrain/Layout: Full-time four-wheel drive, front-engined

    Power Output: 254 hp, 443 lb-ft of torque

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 22 city / 29 highway

    Base Price: $93,450

    As Tested: $106,325 (incl. $995 destination)

    Standard Features: Adaptive Dynamics, 20-inch alloy wheels, Electrical Power Assisted Steering, Four-Channel All-Terrain Anti-Lock Braking System, Dynamic Stability Control, Roll Stability Control, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Cornering Brake Control, Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, Electronic Traction Control, Active Speed Limiter, Gradient Release Control, Reactive Grounding Response, Power Adjustable Driver and Front-Passenger Seats, power tilt and telecsoping heated steering wheel, Oxford Leather seats, climate front seats, heated rear seats, three-zone automatic climate control system, sliding panoramic glass roof with integrated power sun blind, Bluetooth USB connectivity and InControl Apps, 380 Watt Meridian Audio System, SiriusXM Satellite Radio & HD Radio, touchscreen infotainment interface with HDD Navigation & Voice Control, powered tailgate with handsfree open/close, solar reflecitve windshield and rear privacy glass, cruise control, ambient interior lighting, passive entry, front and rear parking aids, Xenon automatic headlamps with LED Signature Lighting, rear view camera, rain sensing windshield wipers, Perimetric Alarm with engine immobilizer, inControl Remote & Protect, front & side airbag system, front seat belt pre-tensioners, Lower Anchor and Tether for Children.

    Options on our test vehicle: Vision Assist Pack: Terrain Response 2 Auto, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, Config Mood Lighting, surround camera system, adaptive Xenon headlamps w/ auto high beam, blind spot monitor with Closing Vehicle Sensing & Reverse Traffic Detection, front fog lights, All-Terrain Response Control; Driver Assistance Package: lane departure warning with traffic sign recognition, perpendicular and parallel park with park exit, 360 degree Park Distance Control, head-up display, Wi-Fi Pre-wire & Soft Door Close; Rover Tow Package: hitch receiver with electrical connector & full-size spare; Rear Seat Entertainment: 2x wireless headphones and remote control, Meridian Premium Audio 825W, sliding panoramic roof, adaptive cruise control with Queue Assist, heated wood and leather steering wheel, Grand Black Laquer Wood Trim, Yulong White Paint.

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