2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Td6 Review
Don’t fear the diesel.
You might be surprised to learn that a whopping 90 percent of Land Rovers sold in Europe are powered by a diesel engine. If not, you might be surprised that Land Rover has waited until now to offer a diesel engine in Range Rovers sold in the U.S. And while company product planners figure that sales for diesel Range Rovers in the States won't outstrip the 15 to 20 percent sales volume that is estimated for key competitors like BMW and Mercedes, starting this fall an extra $1,500 over the existing gasoline-powered V-6 Range Rover Sport will net you a diesel-powered U.S.-market Rangie.
That small price premium will net buyers a 254-hp, 443-lb-ft single-turbo diesel V-6. In true diesel fashion, full torque arrives at just 1,750 rpm and redline is at a fairly short 4,800 rpm. Land Rover estimates fuel economy ratings of 22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway with the Td6 engine, a significant improvement over the 17/23 mpg city/highway rating of the 3.0-liter gasoline-powered V-6 Range Rover Sport. The fuel savings are so great, says Land Rover, that it estimates buyers will average $1,000 in fuel savings annually, meaning that the price differential is eliminated in just a year and a half of driving.
To certify the Td6 engine for the U.S. market, Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF -- a urea solution) is employed to convert NOx in the Range Rover's exhaust to nitrogen. The DEF reservoir is said to last roughly 10,000 miles between refills and is serviceable by the owner. Roughly 1 million miles were put on development cars on U.S. terrain to ensure that reliability is up to North American standards. Estimated fuel range is a huge 658 miles.
Of course, all this means nothing if the engine recalls the "bad old diesels" of the past that left U.S. consumers with memories of rough, noisy, smelly, smoke-belching oil-burners. To this end, Land Rover set up blind tests with American drivers to see if they could identify the Td6 engine as a diesel. Not a single one could, according to the automaker. Needless to say, we were skeptical.
Our doubt only lasted about as long as it took to climb into a 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Td6 and hit the start button. Our tester fired up immediately and settled into a smooth, quiet idle with virtually no ill vibration or traditional diesel engine noise. This is partly thanks to a windshield treated with an acoustic laminate as well as what LR calls "dual-isolation" engine mounts, which damp noise and rattle. That said, even standing outside the Td6 when its idling, there's little diesel chatter to be heard. In fact, we'd venture to say that some direct-injected gasoline engines are noisier.
On the highways outside Barcelona, Spain, the Td6 engine is a strong performer. Acceleration is smooth and completely adequate for a vehicle of this type, with 60 mph arriving in just 7.1 seconds, according to Land Rover. That's just 0.2-sec slower than the gasoline-powered Rangie Sport -- a virtually unnoticeable difference.
All the refinement you'd expect from the gas version is here in the Td6. It's the same vehicle, save for the engine. The eight-speed automatic goes about its job precisely and smoothly, and the Sport's air-sprung ride is plush without being wallowy. Inside, the cabin is cosseting with rich leather, wood and metal materials, and all the creature comforts we've come to expect from this class of vehicle. The infotainment system is still not as strong as others on the market for both ease of use and responsiveness, but it's workable.
In a day spent driving both on-road and some moderately challenging off-road trails, the 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Td6 was up for virtually anything we threw at it, covering ground in quiet, climate-controlled comfort no matter the terrain. We also sampled the Td6 engine in the full-size Range Rover where it manages marginally slower acceleration due to the larger Rangie's beefier weight. (LR says to expect a 7.4-second 0 to 60 mph sprint for the larger Range Rover.) The price increase from the Sport to the big Rover is an anything-but-marginal $20,000.
Overall, the 2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Td6 makes an excellent go-anywhere, do-anything SUV. It's tough to make a case against the diesel engine with its impressive refinement and torque. If anything, to us the diesel engine makes the 3.0-liter gasoline V-6 a tough sell.
2016 Range Rover Sport Td6 Specifications
- On Sale: Fall 2015
- Base Price: $67,445
- Engine: 3.0L turbocharged DOHC 24-valve V-6/254 hp @ 4,000 rpm, 443 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Layout: 4-door, 5- or 7-passenger, front-engine, 4WD SUV
- EPA Mileage: 22/29 mpg (city/hwy) (est)
- Suspension F/R: Control arms, air springs/multi-link, air springs
- Brakes F/R: Vented discs
- Tires F/R: 235/65R-19
- L x W x H: 191.2 x 78.1 x 70.1 in
- Wheelbase: 115.1 in
- Headroom: 39.4/39.1 in (front/second row)
- Legroom: 42.2/37.0 in (front/second row)
- Shoulder Room: 60.7/59.5 in (front/second row)
- Cargo Room: 62.2/27.7 cu ft (behind front/second row)
- Towing: N/A
- Weight: 4,730 lb
- Weight Dist. F/R: N/A
- 7.1 sec
- Â¼ mile: N/A
- Top Speed: 130 mph