2016 Land Rover Range Rover Review

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Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
June 28, 2016

Few vehicles can equal the 2016 Land Rover Range Rover's levels of performance and luxury on pavement; even fewer can keep up with it off-road.

Today's Land Rover Range Rover was new for the 2013 model year, artfully blending more than 40 years of off-road heritage with the latest in technology and refinement to create a very balanced reinterpretation of the now-basic-seeming Range Rover that started it all. Land Rover has added modern powertrains, more luxury options, and additional ways to customize the Range Rover experience while retaining the impressive off-road capabilities on all models.

The U.K.-built Range Rover starts from about $86,000 for the base standard-wheelbase model with the V-6. The diesel commands a $1,500 premium. The SV Autobiography is priced from a staggering $200,000.

The look combines the classic lines of the original with a bit of streamlining, creating a modern take on the boxy, upright themes of past decades. From the side, the Range Rover looks fairly traditional, though the wraparound headlights, the more relaxed windshield angle, and the "floating" roof all help keep it fresh and interesting. At the rear, a slightly up-swept profile is reminiscent of the original. Inside the new Range Rover you'll find very modern accommodations, with a distinctly high-tech look and feel; huge LCD screens nestle into wood and semi-aniline-leather surroundings. In the Autobiography edition, the feel is more hand-built bespoke than production-volume luxury.

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In 2014, Land Rover replaced the previously standard V-8 engine with a new supercharged V-6. Combined with the all-aluminum construction introduced in 2013—making this model fully 700 pounds lighter than its predecessor—that engine helps to further boost efficiency, allowing the big Range Rover to meet various challenging global fuel-economy and carbon emissions goals. To balance that somewhat, a long-wheelbase model was introduced in 2014—it's the limo of SUVs, or possibly the SUV of limos, depending on how you look at things. For 2015, Land Rover made the LWB Rover more attainable, introducing an HSE-trimmed version that uses the supercharged V-6. Long-wheelbase models continue to be available with the supercharged V-8, with varying degrees of fancy furnishings.

New for 2016 is a turbodiesel V-6 that eclipses the gas V-6 in fuel economy and to some degree, logic. The 3.0-liter diesel V-6 is rated at 254 hp and 440 lb-ft, and coupled to the usual four-wheel drive and 8-speed automatic, delivers an EPA-rated 25 mpg combined—exceptional numbers for one of the world's plushest utility vehicles.

Lighter, stiffer, more efficient, and still quite powerful, the Range Rover is an impressive SUV, both on-road and off. Base and HSE models are powered by a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine rated at 380 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. A supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 is also included on higher-tier models, rated at 510 hp. An 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters delivers smooth, quick shifts in all models. Base and HSE models equipped with the supercharged V-6 (including the new LWB HSE) return 17/23/19 mpg.

Feeling more like a long, tall touring sedan than the tippy, off-road-biased SUV it once was, the new Range Rover's manners are better than ever. Independent suspension, adaptive air dampers, and variable-ratio electric power steering help deliver more finely tuned responses. The result is a smooth, languid experience behind the wheel with a feeling of greater control and directness. On models equipped with the Dynamic Response system, which includes active anti-roll bars, the feeling is more taut and sporty, while still offering ample comfort—and plenty of off-road ability. Somewhat surprisingly, the long-wheelbase version of the new Range Rover feels just as nimble, with no noticeable difference in manners despite growing about 7 inches in wheelbase and rear leg room.

The Range Rover is every bit as at home in dirt, mud, gravel, snow, or sand as it is on asphalt. Full-time four-wheel drive, plus a new generation of Land Rover's excellent Terrain Response system make for a truly fit and effortless off-roader. Terrain Response uses sensors to predict surface traction ahead of the vehicle, modifying parameters for the stability control, traction control, and active differential on the fly. Drivers can also select from four different modes: General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, and Sand, while vehicles equipped with the Heavy Duty package add Rock Crawl. With more than 12 inches of ground clearance when the air suspension is raised to its highest setting, and three feet of fording depth, the Range Rover is more than just a flashy luxury SUV—it's a real Land Rover. On top of its on-road and off-road ability, the Range Rover can tow up to 7,700 pounds.

Despite being lighter, the new Range Rover is about 1.7 inches longer (in standard form) than its predecessor. There's also an additional 4.7 inches of leg room (or 7.3 inches in the long-wheelbase model). The front seats carry on the Range Rover tradition of offering fantastic visibility owing to their upright position and low, expansive glass all around. Step-in height is lower than before, too, thanks to an entry/exit setting for the air suspension. In the rear, the seats recline and feature heating, ventilation, and massage functions, and also offer limo-like leg room, especially in the long-wheelbase version. With the Autobiography package (a limited edition upgrade above and beyond the ritzy Autobiography), the luxury factor goes through the roof, with even more premium materials and available gadgets. On all models, the rear tailgate design features a split design with power-operated elements.

Dual LCD screens are standard in all Range Rovers, including a 12.3-inch unit that replaces the instrument panel, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen in the center stack that handles infotainment duty. A combination of touchscreen menus and physical buttons controls climate, phone, audio, navigation, and more. The screen's interface on the central display has been upgraded from previous models, but doesn't quite match the slickness of the larger instrument-panel screen. All models also get leather upholstery as standard equipment, but upgrades to finer leather, a panoramic sunroof, a 1,700-watt Meridian audio system, cooler boxes, and more are available. Aesthetes can pick from a selection of 37 exterior colors, 17 interior colors, and three veneers.

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2016 Land Rover Range Rover

Styling

There's a spare interpretation of luxury at work in the new Range Rover—though it can be dressed up with a huge palette of paints and leathers.

When it was redesigned in 2013, the Range Rover didn't take a huge turn from its decades of carefully curated styling cues. The silhouette remains that of a classic SUV—though it's more clean of detail than ever, even spartan by some standards. If you placed one next to a Cadillac Escalade, you'd make the distinction immediately.

That said, the Range Rover has been smoothed and contoured to take advantage of modern aerodynamic tricks. The windshield lays lower, and the front end is less blunt. It's even rather low-slung, compared to its more upright ancestors. The whole vehicle looks light and airy thanks to slim roof pillars finished in gloss black—the roof appears to float, drawing attention to the lower body-color aluminum panels more than ever. The thin LED headlamps and trim mesh grille are the most ostentatious details you'll find on it, and those are subdued, compared to some rivals.

The interior's influenced more by modern, streamlined design themes—and by the integration (or intrusion, depending on your take) of the electronic world. Two large LCDs dominate the driver's view of the dash, with one taking the place of a traditional instrument cluster. In the center console, a large touchscreen display sits above the manual climate and ancillary system controls. Its user interface is more elegant and cleaner than in past iterations, but it's still not likely to win the hearts of many Apple devotees. Thumb controls mounted on the steering wheel fortunately offer remote access to many functions.

Throughout the cabin you'll find rich wood trim, supple leather, and elegant metal that rivals that seen in a Bentley. An incredible selection of finishes, materials, and colors is available, allowing you to customize the Range Rover to be truly unique, from the hushed and understated tones of a traditional Range Rover to the gorgeous, rich hues—rendered in even finer leathers—of the Autobiography editions.

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2016 Land Rover Range Rover

Performance

Whether road is dirt, gravel, snow, or pavement, the Range Rover finds a way to tackle it with composure and speed.

The Range Rover embodies a go-anywhere philosophy, and puts it into action with a blizzard of technology. In some ways it's hardly the same vehicle it was a generation ago, when manual hubs and carbureted engines were the way of the road. Today's Range Rover accelerates, handles, and extricates itself from seemingly impossible situations, relying more on the microchip than it does on its gears and rubber. Switching gears from leather-lined regal conveyance to dirt-loving mud monster doesn't even require the tap of a switch.

The Range Rover asserts its authority with a trio of engines. The base engine is now a supercharged 3.0-liter, gas-powered V-6. Last year it was rated at 340 horsepower; this year, it's been upgraded slightly to 380 hp, though peak torque of 332 pound-feet stays the same. Land Rover pegs it at 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds, and in power delivery, the supercharged V-6 is a ready accomplice, with a hint of supercharger whine and lots of low-end thrust to launch its still-substantial body.

All Range Rovers now have a lighter-weight aluminum body, and lots of cast-aluminum suspension bits, though the scales still tip north of 4,700 pounds. In switching from a steel body-on-frame design to an aluminum unibody, the new Range Rover saves a claimed 700 pounds compared to its predecessor. It is built using riveted and bonded construction for aircraft-quality rigidity and strength. The suspension is made of both cast and forged aluminum elements, and some of the body panels are sandwiched with composite liners to further save weight.

New this year is a turbodiesel V-6 that eclipses the gas V-6 in fuel economy and to some degree, logic. The 3.0-liter diesel V-6 is rated at 254 hp and 440 lb-ft, and coupled to the usual four-wheel drive and 8-speed automatic, delivers an EPA-rated 25 mpg combined—exceptional numbers for one of the world's plushest utility vehicles.

Land Rover promises that its diesels meet all U.S.-market emissions standards through the use of exhaust after-treatment, and that they are capable of 658 miles of highway driving on a single tank of fuel. It operates on a very narrow powerband—peak torque arrives at 1,750 rpm and peak power at 3,500 rpm—but the turbodiesel hardly lets on that it's different in power delivery other than a trace of typical diesel noise at launch. It's also nearly as quick as the gas V-6, with 0-60 mph times of 7.4 seconds. Otherwise it's so quiet, so well-insulated, it feels as strong as the supercharged V-6—and at a $1,500 premium, should pay back the added cost in short order. If you value that kind of long-term payback and have long-distance driving legs, the Range Rover turbodiesel is a no-brainer upgrade.

At the pinnacle of the lineup, the Range Rover pours on a torrent of nearly silent power from a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8. It's pegged at 510 hp, and can reach 60 mph in as few as 5.1 seconds, but fuel economy drops predictably, to 16 mpg combined.

If its performance statistics read like those of one of the world's ultra-luxury sedans, it's no coincidence. The Range Rover's engineered to drive and handle with cars like the Flying Spur and S-Class in mind. The Range Rover's advanced suspension deserves much of the credit for that level of paved-road ability, with a control-arm front design, a multi-link rear, and adaptive dampers and air springs at all four corners. Variable-ratio electric power steering never threatens to deliver sports-car-like feel, but it does manage levels of feedback that would be appropriate in a Bentley or a Benz. The suspension and steering elements can also vary their responses depending on which mode of the Terrain Response system is selected. The combination of power and rugged suspension also enable a towing capacity of up to 7,716 pounds.

Full-time four-wheel drive with a 50/50 torque split front-to-rear is the Range Rover's mechanical core, but it builds on that with a range of electronic and mechanical technologies that surpass any other luxury SUV. A low-range ratio is available at speeds up to 37 mph, helping the big 'ute to climb or descend truly steep grades; wheel travel is a considerable 10.2 inches front and 12.2 inches rear; the adaptive air suspension can increase ground clearance up to 12.2 inches; fording depth is greater than 35 inches; and then there's the Terrain Response system.

Terrain Response uses sensors to detect and predict the grip level of the surface ahead, altering the settings for the traction control, stability control, steering, suspension, and locking differential to suit. Users can also select modes manually, including General; Grass/Gravel/Snow; Mud/Ruts; Sand; and Rock Crawl, the latter of which is included only on vehicles equipped with the Heavy Duty package. Drivers can lead the system in automatic mode and have it select whichever mode it thinks is most suitable, or one can be chosen using the console-mounted dial.

Dynamic Response, an active anti-roll bar system, is standard on supercharged V-8 models and uses active anti-roll bars to dynamically counter body lean when cornering. It flattens out the Range Rover's handling, improving overall road-holding ability without getting in the way of off-road capability. In fact, the anti-roll bars can be disconnected when off-road to increase wheel articulation and allow necessary roll in tricky maneuvers. We've driven the new Range Rover in conditions from a Moroccan ocean-side gale, to Spanish steppes, to miserable Atlanta traffic, and have never gotten stuck—not by obstacles that are legal to drive over, that is.

10

2016 Land Rover Range Rover

Comfort & Quality

The Range Rover's lush cabin is spacious and elegantly trimmed, even if it's only a "base" model.

Although lighter than in the previous generation, today's Range Rover manages to be larger inside and out than its predecessor. Add to that the long-wheelbase model, and this is unequivocally the most spacious Range Rover ever offered.

In the more ordinary Range Rovers—which is to say, still very luxurious and accommodating—both standard- and long-wheelbase models offer a choice of bench or bucket rear seats, comfortable front seats that now include 10-way adjustment (and some of the softest, most comfortable headrests in the industry), extensive leather upholstery, fine veneers, and Range Rover's typically classy styling and high build quality. Soft-close doors are now standard on the HSE model, while heated and cooled front seats are now included on HSE and Supercharged models.

Standard models also get a host of available rear-seat equipment, including DVD entertainment, heated/ventilated/massaging seats, a chiller box, and more.

Head room, leg room, and shoulder room are all very good at every seating position; the driver's position is possibly as close to ideal as any vehicle on the road when it comes to a commanding view. The driver's seat height is slightly lower than before, at least in some modes, thanks to the variable-height air suspension, but the expansive glass and low dash give unparalleled forward and side visibility.

The long-wheelbase model adds a substantial 7.3 inches of rear-seat leg room and nearly 8 inches to the wheelbase. The resulting space in the second row is expansive, and can be enhanced further with the addition of an optional executive seating package.

The SV Autobiography package, available only on Range Rover LWB models in the U.S., brings with it upgrades to both front and rear seats, including a unique seat cover design, memory seat settings, four-zone climate control, massage functions, and more. For the rear seat, the package adds lumbar massage; powered reclining individual seats; electrically deployable tables with integrated USB charging sockets and cupholders, finished in either leather or—new for 2015—wood veneer; a chiller box between the rear seats; 10.2-inch rear seat entertainment screens with navigation display; and a power-reclining calf rest for the rear right-hand seat.

Cargo space in the Range Rover is easily accessible thanks to the power tailgate. The tailgate splits horizontally, letting the glass top lift up, while the body-colored lower panel folds downward, presenting a flat surface against the cargo floor. With the lowering air suspension, access to the Range Rover's cargo area rivals that of some much less capable crossovers.

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2016 Land Rover Range Rover

Safety

It's still lacking in crash-test data, but the Range Rover has multiple safety systems for layers of passenger protection.

Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has crash-tested the Range Rover since it was new in 2013. It's unlikely they ever will, given its high price and low sales.

That makes it difficult to assess how well the Range Rover protects its passengers in an accident—but until we have data, the SUV's laundry list of safety technology helps us make some reasonable assumptions.

Chief among its hardware is a body built in aircraft-style aluminum sections, glued and riveted together for exceptional stiffness. There's standard four-wheel drive (with its own selectable traction modes), hill-descent control, and hill-start assist, as well as a new low-speed crawl and cruise control. On certain models, the traction selection system can even predict grip levels on the terrain ahead.

Standard Bluetooth with voice control helps keep the driver's hands on the wheel and off the phone. A surround-view camera system is also included on all versions, offering a top-down view of the vehicle for safe and precise maneuvering when parking. Blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and the Range Rover's inherently good visibility all further make it a likely candidate for safe driving.

Last year, the Range Rover added a new technology package that includes lane-departure warnings, automatic parking assist (which can handle both parallel and perpendicular spaces and also extract the car from a spot), and parking sensors front and rear. The package is standard on Autobiography, and optional otherwise.

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2016 Land Rover Range Rover

Features

As the ultimate off-roader, the Range Rover offers luxury features you'd never image putting through mud pits.

The Land Rover Range Rover is one of the most luxurious vehicles ever to be driven off-road—and it's intent on keeping that distinction, even as a flotilla of super-luxury 'utes from brands like Bentley and Lamborghini appear on the horizon.

With a base price in the mid-$80,000 range, the standard Range Rover comes with four-wheel drive, a supercharged V-6, and an 8-speed automatic. A new turbodiesel V-6 is a $1,500 option.

Standard features include power windows/locks; cruise control; keyless ignition; three-mode automatic climate control; heated 10-way front seats, and a power-split tailgate with integrated liftgate.

That's where the Range Rover story begins. The upgrade path is long, wide, and expensive. It includes 20-way power front seats with heating, ventilation, and massage functions; rear-seat DVD entertainment; a panoramic sunroof; soft-close doors; electrically deployed running boards; and on-board cooler boxes for everything from Coca-Cola to champagne. At this price point, after all, methode Champenoise reads like cost-cutting.

New this year are a surround-view camera system; rearview-camera washers; a hands-free tailgate with gesture control (it opens with the wave of a foot beneath the bumper); smartphone app access for vehicle features like emergency access and lock/unlock; and an access-height mode for the air suspension, which lowers the vehicle to aid passengers.

Standard infotainment equipment includes dual LCD screens in the front row; one is a 12.3-inch display that sits where the gauges normally would, while the second is an 8.0-inch touchscreen for control of the entertainment systems, navigation, and more. While the interface for the touchscreen system has been updated, it's still not one of the most intuitive or easily accessed systems on the market—perhaps the only black mark on the Range Rover's list of successes.

All Range Rovers wear a lush leather interior, treated in the semi-aniline method, which means it's softer to the touch than more processed hides. Autobiography and SV Autobiography wear even less-treated leather. An extensive color palette is available, both inside and outside the Range Rover, including a choice of black or silver roof with any of 37 standard body colors, 22 Autobiography-exclusive paint choices, and 17 interior colors and three veneers.

The Range Rover's standard audio system is powered by Meridian audio processing, packing 300 watts of sound. An upgrade to the top-of-the-line system brings 29 speakers, 1,700 watts of power, and more Meridian processing. It lacks a bit of punch, but it's still a clean, sweet-sounding system.

Prices reach more than $200,000 for SV Autobiography, which replaces last year's Autobiography Black edition.

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2016 Land Rover Range Rover

Fuel Economy

With a terrific new turbodiesel, the Range Rover can now claim fuel-economy figures of 25 mpg combined.

The 2016 Land Rover Range Rover returns for the new model year with a slightly uprated supercharged V-6 and its stalwart supercharged V-8. Fuel economy figures for those powertrains carry over intact—but the big news is the arrival of a new turbodiesel V-6 that gives a tremendous boost to the SUV's green profile.

They're still not standouts in the world of green vehicles, but the diesel does bring the lineup to a higher score here at The Car Connection, since its efficiency is so much better. The EPA rates the new 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 at 22 mpg city, 29 highway, 25 combined—a 6-mpg improvement over the gas-powered V-6. Land Rover claims it's able to drive 658 highway miles on a single tank of fuel.

Land Rover confirms that its turbodiesels meet all stringent U.S. standards for emissions. The turbodiesel uses urea after-treatment to limit emissions of nitrogen oxides.

Base and HSE models equipped with the supercharged V-6 (including the new LWB HSE) return 17/23/19 mpg.

At the upper end of the Range Rover line, a 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 continues to offer its robust blend of power and civility, but also continues on with less-than-impressive gas mileage—even among its V-8 cohort. At 14/19/16 mpg combined, it's not the choice for those concerned with their environmental footprint, even if it does outperform some of the luxury SUV competition.

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Styling 9.0
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