Land Rover: Diesel Joins 2016 Range Rovers

By Sue Mead, May 21st, 2016

Land Rover's two Range Rover models are revered for their iconic out-of-the-bush exterior looks, sumptuous interiors, great on-road manners, and the heritage that has bestowed them with some of the world's top off-road capability.

Now diesel comes to the party, bringing great low-end torque, higher towing capability, better fuel economy overall, and a diesel cost savings at the pump.

Since its debut in 1970, the full-size Range Rover sport utility vehicle has been praised for both its luxurious trappings and its extreme off-road capabilities; the highly awarded model has also been the launch-pad for numerous class-leading and world's-first technologies. The midsize Range Rover Sport joined the lineup in 2005, as a shorter stablemate skewed towards more sports-minded motoring on pavement and 4WD prowess.

Range Rover now adds Land Rover's Td6 to its powertrain options, with the promise of exceptional quietness, plus improved efficiency and performance, touting this six-cylinder engine as having nearly as much torque as a V-8.

The diesel powertrain comes at a premium option price of $1,500. The British marque has also updated the 2016 models with new all-terrain technologies, a novel hands-free-opening rear liftgate, plus updated user interfaces and new apps.

Land Rover says that 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Diesel and 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel are the manufacturer's first-ever diesel offerings in North America. The starting price for the entry-level Range Rover Sport Td6 is $64,950, and $86,450 for the Range Rover Td6 (plus $995 destination/handling). They compete with the Mercedes G350, Audi Q7, and Lexus LX 570.

Outside and in, the refined Range Rover models sport uber-handsome looks, indulgent premium materials, and abundant technology. The interior is sophisticated and modern, incorporating distinctive Range Rover design, wrapping passengers in sumptuous leather, lux-level wood, and satin chrome trims. New InControl apps are available as a stand-alone option or packaged with the Meridian upgrade stereo; the new hands-free tailgate opens with a foot gesture.

Land Rover's 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 diesel boasts 254 horsepower and 440 lb.-ft. of torque, and is mated to an eight-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. Because peak torque arrives at 1,750 rpm (the gasoline V-6 produces 332 lb.-ft. at 3,500 rpm), Land Rover says the diesel powertrain is particularly well-suited to towing heavy loads and off-roading where reaching maximum torque at a lower gear is beneficial. The maximum towing capacity is 7,716 pounds.

Our recent drive in the two models took place in Arizona. We left the bustling cityscape of Phoenix, and headed north to Verde Valley along paved roads and an off-road track near Sedona. Most notable from the start was the quietness of the diesel powerplant, which gives a slight hint of its diesel motivation only when blipping the right pedal or using heavy throttle pressure.

Land Rover says a compacted graphite iron engine block with new isolating engine mounts, as well as the acoustic laminated windshield, reduce vibration and noise. The on-road sprinter settled in to an amiable amble across the picturesque dirt trail, with hill descent control and rock crawling mode managing our speed for smoothness and comfort.

We also drove the larger and more rugged Range Rover on the road and on the more rigorous `Greasy Spoon,' a rock-and-boulder-littered 4WD track that allowed Land Rover to showcase its newest backcountry technology. Both models have high- and low-range gears and full-time intelligent all-wheel-drive with Terrain Response 2 technology that allows drivers to select a mode to optimize performance on different surfaces.

New-for-2016 is the All Terrain Progress Control system that can switch automatically between the five settings -- General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, Sand, and Rock Crawl -- making sure the vehicle is always in the optimum mode; the driver can set the speed. Like the previous system, each setting optimizes drivability and traction by adapting the responses of the engine, transmission, differentials, and chassis systems to match the demands of the terrain.

Standard air suspension lifts or lowers the vehicle more than 4 inches at the push of a button; other standard driving technologies include hill descent control, dynamic stability control, electronic traction control, cornering brake control, electronic brake-force distribution, and emergency brake assist.

Land Rover expects that its new diesel engine will become a popular choice for Range Rover buyers and predicts that 15 to 20 percent will pick the Td6 engine.

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