Quick Spin

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE Td6 Quick Spin

Come for the torque, stay for the economy.

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Sure, there are some major diesel-related scandals making front-page news all over the world. And diesel engines have a long and inelegant history as clattery, industrial-grade engines – even though this hasn't been true in passenger cars for quite some time. Land Rover and Jaguar are untroubled by all this, and both are betting that diesel engines have a future in the United States. After driving the 2016 Range Rover Sport HSE Td6, I agree.

This is a new engine for North American Land Rover buyers, although the engine has been around for a while. We drove the Sport Td6 back in September of last year, in Spain, and found it to be commendably quiet and torquey. Outside of the powerplant, we felt it was typical Range Rover Sport stuff, comfortable and competent off-road, with a classy interior and adequate get-up. But it's worth re-examining what the Sport Td6 can offer Americans.

  • This color, which Land Rover calls Kaikoura Stone, hides the Sport's sharp lines or profile in a thin cloak of generic beige. Do yourself a favor and choose a more interesting tone, like Scotia Grey Metallic or Montalcino Red.
  • The variable ride height is a venerable Land Rover party trick. I realize it's trite, but parking the Sport in off-road height lent it a burly stance and reminds the onlooker that this Land Rover both talks and walks like a real all-terrain-capable truck. Other than cutting through a median to bypass a traffic deadlock, I tested exactly zero percent of its off-road capabilities – just like what we assume are an overwhelming majority of Range Rover Sport owners.
  • The Td6 is a very quiet engine, as we discovered in our First Drive. That wasn't an anomaly. Whether you let it idle or womp on it, it's only about as clattery from the inside as any direct-injection gasoline V6, in my estimation.
  • For torque lovers, the ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic and the 3.0-liter Td6 engine are a dream team. Peak torque, all 443 pound-feet of it, comes halfway to redline at 2,000 rpm. But with eight gears to throw at the torque curve there's a wonderful, copious wave of pull from the get-go. The two contraptions compliment each other perfectly.
  • I don't know what the roads are like in Barcelona, but I can verify that Southeastern Michigan's pavement is lousy. The Sport couldn't care less. Land Rover's standard air suspension and relatively meaty tires wrapped around 20-inch wheels held the chaos underneath to a dull roar. It's extremely quiet inside, although not quite vault-like.
  • The diesel is only a $1,500 upcharge over the base Sport HSE, or $72,945. That's chump change for the swift-kick-to-backside rush of diesel torque, and the fuel you save might help you break even before the lease term is up.

As tested, this Sport rang up at $84,260 with a healthy dose of options. That's to say, the Sport Td6 comes in slightly higher than any of its similarly equipped German competitors' SUVs. Don't expect a Sport Td6 to be a bargain. If raw interior space or seats for all seven of your children are required, there are better choices. Have you considered a Honda Pilot?

As with most things in the JLR stable, such as the Jaguar XF I drove recently, the Sport needs to make some sort of emotional connection to the buyer for the transaction price to make sense. If you're a torque junkie and don't mind touching a grimy diesel pump handle every few hundred miles, the Td6 might be the one for you.

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