We all know the idea behind the Range Rover. It’s elegant, capable, something something fish and chips. So let’s focus on what’s new for 2016: off-road cruise control and the perfect engine, a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6. At last, a diesel Range Rover for America!
(Full disclosure: Land Rover needed me to drive the diesel Range Rover so badly they flew me to Spain and let me took around in one for a bit. They also paid for my food and booze, which was mighty kind of them, although I would have been happy to take it into the woods and subsist on whatever vegetation and woodland creatures I could find.)
Glorious as the Queen’s Own SUV is, “diesel Range Rover” doesn’t actually get anybody’s attention almost anywhere outside America. In fact, 50 percent of the world’s Range Rovers are diesel and in its British motherland that figure soars to 90 percent. Seriously, you’d think we threw all their gasoline in the ocean instead of tea at that party.
But say those same three words, “diesel Range Rover,” at an American barbecue with a bunch of those khaki-shirted retired bankers on bucket-list round-the-world adventure trips and somebody’s gonna piss their zip-off cargo pants.
Finally. Finally. We’ll be able to buy them. For 2016, both wheelbases of the Range Rover as well as the Range Rover Sport will be available with a turbodiesel engine known as “Td6.” I’ve driven it, and it’s everything a Land Rover fanboy could ask for.
We Americans love the Range Rover as much as the next set of upwardly-mobile individuals for the same reasons we wear North Face gear to get ice cream and use Everest-tested expedition gear to take the kids camping. One, that stuff looks freaking sweet, and two, those who can afford it like having Good Shit.
As far as SUVs go, the Range Rover is as Good Shit as it gets.
It’s true that OEM parts are expensive and working on these vehicles can be challenging, characteristics that make it easy for minor maintenance issues to snowball into a state of recurring malfunction.
...Okay, fine. Range Rover’s reliability rating is as terrible as it’s always been. You either care and buy a Land Cruiser, or you don’t and get the truck that’s way sexier.
Climbing into a Range Rover gives you that warm fuzzy feeling you might remember from strolling past a herd of peasants on your way to a first-class transatlantic airplane seat. If you can live without that kind of ego injection every time you go to the driveway, may I suggest a Subaru Outback?
The Range Rover has everything in the right place, and now that we can have it with the diesel engine it was born to cradle it’s pretty much the perfect SUV.
The new-to-us Td6 might not be as quick as the supercharged V8, but the supremely smooth low-end power delivery is perfect for city driving and off-roading, has plenty of legs for highway hauling, and finally gives the Range Rover a fuel economy figure you don’t have to be embarrassed about.
“Why diesel, why now?”
Land Rover’s official answer is simple as “it was the next logical step for the market.”
The company thinks there’s finally enough interest in the United States to make importing the engine worth the effort. They expect 15 to 20 percent of 2016 Range Rovers will get sold with the diesel engine at a $1,500 premium over comparable models with the standard gasoline engine.
My hot take is that Land Rover wanted a relatively easy way to spice up their lineup, found that making the Td6 engine meet our emissions regulations wasn’t that hard anymore and figured “what the hell.”
Either way, it’s about dang time.
“What engine is this exactly?”
While Land Rover engineers promise the Td6 been completely reworked, the architecture’s basically been around forever. It started life as a Ford engine, has been in a bunch of Land Rover vehicles since Ford’s ownership of the company, and has now been brought up to America’s tough emissions standards in its latest round of updates.
You won’t sweat where it came from once you drive it though, the engine’s full 440 lb-ft of torque comes on at just 1,750 RPM and yeah you’ll feel it in your ass alright. Horsepower is rated at a respectable 254 horsepower.
Where you won’t feel it everywhere else. Land Rover’s added more padding to the firewall and acoustic laminated glass to diesel models to subdue the “diesel experience” your mom might remember (smelly and clunky) but even standing outside with the hood open, you can barely hear this baby clatter.
If you want your diesel to sound like a bag of bearings in a dryer, you might want to keep your Cummins. But you’re probably not in the market for a Range Rover anyway.
The Td6 relies on a lot of variability to maximize efficiency. That’s the takeaway from things like “two-stage oil pump” and “controllable water pump.” Subsystems are designed to work as little as possible to minimize engine load.
Just like the Ram EcoDiesel and big rigs, this engine uses “diesel emissions fluid” (DEF) to help cut down on pollution. It’s a blue juice you add to a separate filler every 10,000 miles or so, available at any auto parts store or for much more money at your local Land Rover dealer.
Here’s what’s so great about it.
Diesel engines have the same set of appeals that draw people to trucks and utility vehicles in the first place; grunt and survivability. And better than that it gives heavy vehicles the opportunity to get close to reasonable fuel economy ratings.
Old diesels smelled like hobo sweat and sped along as slowly as the clock in your 12th grade remedial math class.
Now they can be quiet, smooth, quite fast and apparently get a Range Rover to hit 28 MPG.
How many miles would you have to drive to make that $1,500 charge worth it over a gas version? Not that the first person to buy a Range Rover is in it for economics, but Land Rover claims diesel buyers will save an average of $1,000 a year in fuel, so the answer is “about 18 months worth” of whatever they consider their average customer’s driving.
The only way to really figure out if you’ll save money running diesel is to look at what fuels cost in your area and how much you drive. But for more concrete justification for getting the D; diesel Range Rovers are expected to have significantly better resale value. That translates to more favorable lease rates.
Imagine if the Range Rover diesel ended up being the brand’s billboard car? As in; the one with the asterisk next to “Just $699 a month!” That’d crack me up, because from where I’m standing the diesel looks like the most desirable “enthusiast-spec.”
Exceptional low-end power delivery, mega range between fillips, and finally graduating from the teens to the 20’s on MPG! What a time to be alive; you no longer have to hide under your napkin at the next gala for rich democrats after rolling up in your Range Rover. Maybe some of those San Francisco bros who dumped their Range Rover for a Hybrid S-Class to maintain their Sierra Club membership will come back.
Did I mention I love it?
The Range Rover is so easy for me to get excited about. It’s exceedingly comfortable, great off-road and unlike any other modern 4x4, it’s more than just good-looking, it’s pretty. Even driving through Willy Wonka’s chocolate river as pictured here.
And a diesel engine simply accentuates my favorite part of the Range Rover’s personality; “grumble grumble, get the hell out of my way.”
It feels so purposeful surging forward, and really has a great throttle-tip for creeping around off-road. The fuel economy bonus might not end up saving that much cash where diesel costs more per gallon than high-octane gasoline, but the added economy is a point of pride. It’s another spec to be “better.”
I can’t imagine why you’d bother buying any other engine in this car.
Verdict: “Truck Indeed,” my good man.
For those of us who love luxury, pedigree, and are into the idea of going off-road the Range Rover sells such a spectacularly sexy package. And if you’re just into brand names, yeah, I guess it’s good for you too.
Its reliability record might be weak, but the Range has so much else going for it fanboys like me are hard in love anyway. The only thing this vehicle was missing was an engine that focused on low-end power and economy, and holy crap, now it’s got one!
Hurry up and buy one of these things so in 10 years I can get it off the guy you sell it to.
Images via Land Rover and the author