In an industry dominated by diesel negativity, automakers are still trotting out their diesels. And if there's nothing to hide, why wouldn't they? They've invested enough throughout the years, and want to stand by their clean emissions claims amidst growing speculation of fraud trickling beyond Volkswagen and throughout the industry.
Enter stage left, the 2016 Range Rover HSE Td6.
Before the diesel scandal broke in September 2015, introducing the Td6 diesel powertrain in the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport to the North American market was a big move for the British brand. Diesel accounted for the majority of its sales in Europe, and could provide that extra boost of excitement, mostly from its bulging torque numbers and improved fuel economy.
As you approach the Td6, it's hard to mistake any Range Rover product for a competitor, and this version holds true to that test. It maintains its typical chiselled grille, square frame and body lines with only subtle changes including a lowered windshield, floating roof and raised rear end for aerodynamic improvements. Overall, the 2016 version stays bold and in-your-face, ready to be that off-road warrior (which it typically is never used for) or that eye-catching high-society social status symbol.
As I take a big hop into my Range Rover press vehicle, I'm impressed by its beautiful two-tone cream and grey leather makeup that sets a mood of luxury. Even the steering wheel comes off classy with three types of materials and plenty of buttons to play with featuring radio controls, cruise control and a heated steering wheel.
The technological layout is very organized. It has a high tech appeal with its infotainment system with eight-inch touchscreen, climate controls and driving mode settings staying similar to other new Land Rover/Range Rover products. It might appear tech savvy, but it just doesn't deliver for me on many grounds.
First off, the current infotainment system is slow to respond and outdated compared to its competition. But that's not the worst of it. That award belongs to the hair-pulling frustration known as its navigation system. Not only is it not accurate, this travesty asks you repeatedly to approve different screens before it loads up a point of interest or specific address. Luckily, Jaguar/Land Rover is coming out with an updated infotainment system, and it couldn't come any sooner.
The Td6 might falter in the infotainment department, but whatever it lacks, it makes up for in terms of space. There's an abundance of head and legroom in both the front and rear seats, and the driver is provided plenty of visibility with a high, overlooking view of the road. In the rear, passengers are not treated as second-class citizens, as they're given not only the option of setting their own climate controls, but treated to a rare bonus of heated or cooled seats.
Cargo room is aplenty as the second row of seats can be easily folded using power buttons situated on the right side of the trunk. When folded down, the amount of cargo space expands from 909 litres to 2,030, making it easy to transport a table or a team's hockey equipment.
Most of what we know about the Range Rover has stayed the same, so let's get to the major aspect of this car review – the diesel engine. The Td6 stands for its 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 that produces 254 hp and 440 lb.-ft. of torque that's matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission with a four-wheel drive construction. According to Land Rover, their diesel system injects urea and water fluids into the exhaust system, resulting in a reduction of NOx gases.
The Td6 is stated to go from 0 to 100 km/h in close to 7.4 seconds, but in my experience I found the beast to be slow to get moving, staying consistent with the Range Rover's gasoline version. You definitely feel its weight on initial acceleration, and can be sluggish until reaching regular city speeds. However, once you get up to those higher speeds, it can really take off with a sense of urgency. If more of a boost is needed, simply switch it to sport mode and a noticeable push forward at higher rpms is granted.
The Td6 might be slow off the line, but its key attributes come down to its easy handling and quiet ride. For such a large vehicle, it takes on corners like a champ with only simple steering inputs needed to get the job done. As for its quiet nature, Land Rover has done a phenomenal job with insulation, eliminating the typical noise emitted from diesel engines.
Fuel economy is always a positive attribute when it comes to diesels and this Td6 doesn't disappoint. For the week, I averaged a combined 10.0 L/100 km, which was a lot less than the Volvo XC90 and BMW X5 I've had in the past.
Naturally, the Range Rover HSE Td6 has an advanced Terrain Response system with grass, gravel, snow, mud, sand and rock crawl options. On this particular test drive it wasn't used, but it's nice to see that such advanced technology is at your disposal. The system uses sensors to automatically guide you up and down hills, as well as through rocks. In addition, it can tow up to 7,700 pounds.
The 2016 Range Rover HSE Td6 comes to Canada at an unfortunate time when the word diesel comes with negative connotations. Sure, the price tag for the Td6 is high, but it actually is the entry-level point for the luxury brand at a starting price of $108,490. But if you're looking for something in that range, it's hard to deny the sophistication, quiet ride, cargo capacity and fuel economy numbers that comes with this new model.