Land Rover wants to prove diesel is not a dirty word. For 2016, the maker of some of the most rugged SUVs on the market is offering the Range Rover Td6, a 3-liter turbo-diesel, across its lineup for the first time in the United States.
Although some have shied away from the D word in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, diesel still boasts some advantages over regular gasoline. One of these is a high proportion of torque, making it ideal for towing and tackling the outdoors—just the prescription for Range Rover fans. The Td6 produces 254 hp and 440 ft lbs of torque, only slightly less than the company’s supercharged V-8. Vehicles equipped with the Td6 have a tow rating of 7,716 pounds.
We drove Td6 versions of both the full-size Range Rover ($86,450), and the Range Rover Sport ($66,450) in the shadow of the famed red rocks of Sedona, Ariz. Out on the road, there is not much evidence of stereotypical diesel clacking, except at idle and around town with the windows down. But it is not any more noticeable than the tick-tick-ticking of today’s direct-injection gasoline engines.
Range Rover engineers stress that, despite public wariness, the Td6 offers increased range and 32-percent better fuel economy than its supercharged V-6 gasoline counterpart, with an EPA rating of 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined. “We don’t use any defeat devices or any defeat software,” says Peter Wright, Land Rover’s vehicle engineering manager.
Deep in the Verde Valley, we spent a few hours on an off-road course with the full-size Range Rover, delighting both our inner engineer and inner child as we tackled gravel, rocks, and steep grades. On particularly challenging climbs and descents, we relinquished control to Land Rover’s newest feature: All-Terrain Progress Control. Different from Range Rover’s hill descent control, ATPC monitors and continually adjusts the throttle and other vehicle settings to get up and down obstacles safely at a constant speed, without the driver having to touch the pedals. Buttons on the steering wheel can adjust the speed while the system is in use.
Also new on all 2016 Range Rovers is a revamped version of Land Rover’s user interface, InControl, which gives users access to apps and features within a large, central color display, bringing it up to date with other luxury brands. Most everything else in Td6 models carry over from before, including a cushiony ride that makes clambering through the rocks all day feel less like a beating and more akin to a brisk Thai massage. Some say off-roading is tough, but the Range Rover Td6 makes it look easy.