Monday, January 30, 2017


Though it has not been true for quite some time now, the notion that diesel-powered vehicles have to be some smoke-belching, soot-scattering, valve-clacking machines still insists in some circles.

At the very least, some skeptics maintain, the diesel versions of today’s cars, trucks and SUVs may still be found out because of the steady clicking of engine noise diesels emit from under their hoods.

But that perception changes with the diesel version of Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport.

New for 2016, the Land Rover Range Rover HSE Td6 is so quiet that the car jockey who dropped it off in my driveway recently took the time to point out that it was indeed a diesel, lest I make the mistake of pulling up to the wrong pump for a refill. Nothing about this more than capable and versatile SUV hinted any of the diesel ills of the past (like the dirt, smoke, and noise). No emissions problems here.

But you still get the kind of high-torque, fuel-saving performance diesels are known to deliver in a very attractive overall package.

The 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 (hence Td6) under the hood of the HSE Sport is rated at 254 horsepower at 4000 rpm and a hefty 443 pound-feet of torque available at a low 1750 rpm. It has impressive fuel economy ratings of 22 miles-per-gallon city, 29 highway, and 25 combined, a nice boost from the 17/23/19 ratings for the gasoline version V6. (It’s also offered with a V8 that put horsepower and torque figures over 500 hp/ft.lbs., respectively, and rated at 14 mpg combined.)

Theoretically, that means with a fuel tank of 23-plus gallons you could travel in the diesel Sport over 650 miles without a pit stop. (I say theoretically because, of course, there are other reasons for stops along the way! No need to go into details.)

And you’ll make the trip in comfort and quiet. Except for the powertrain, the Td6 version is prettymuch like its gasoline powered cousins, including coming with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Four-wheel drive is standard, of course, and, like every Land Rover, it’s as much at home taking on off-road challenges with its two-speed transfer case as it is negotiating pavement.

As the $72,000-plus price tag for the Td6 would indicate, the Range Rover HSE Sports falls in the luxury segment, and despite its ruggedness, it doesn’t fail to deliver there either. The cabin features high quality materials arranged in a simplistic, yet stylish manner. If anything, designers have good too far in eliminating some control knobs for the audio system, which makes changing radio stations frustrating at times, but they did have the good sense to leave knobs for adjusting the A/C.

The front armrests for the driver and passenger are adjustable, and with just one or two in the back, the backseat passengers can have the convenience of a fold-down rest with two cupholders. The HSE Sport also is available with third-row seats, but not on my test model. Reviewers note they are cramped, which isn’t all that surprising. Land Rover says they are for children.

Cargo space behind the second row is 27.7 cubic feet. Folding them more than doubles capacity to 62.2 cubic feet, and you can access that via a power liftgate that includes a kick-to-open feature (not literally; you just wave your foot under the side of the bumper with the key somewhere on your person).

My test Sport was a 2016 model with equipment included Oxford perforated leather seats, dual zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, front and rear parking aids, 20-inch wheels, Xenon automatic headlights with LED signature lighting, rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, trailer stability control, lane departure warning, a sliding panoramic roof, wi-fi, premium audio, a two package, and Land Rover’s Terrain Response2 system. With the $995 destination and delivery charge, the final tab came to $72,945.

So put away those doubts you may have had looking into a diesel because of the bad publicity from the scandal involving VW and falsified emission tests. You may find it’s exactly the balance of comfort, economy, and performance you’re looking for in an SUV.

What I liked about the Land Rover Range Rover Sport Td6: It’s just the right size. It does the job of a bigger vehicle but handles like a smaller one.

What I didn’t like about the Land Rover Range Rover Sport Td6: Operating the infotainment system can be frustrating, especially when trying to use voice-operated commands. I found it hit and miss (especially miss). It can be a little tricky getting into it, at least from the driver’s side. If you put your right foot in first and then hoist your backside into the side, you may find yourself bumping your head. So put your head in first, then step in.

Would I buy the Land Rover Range Rover Sport Td6: Yes. 

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