Range Rover Sport HSE Td6: Diesel fuel mileage with plenty of kick

WASHINGTON — Unless you have your heart set on the V-8 supercharged version of Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport, and the funds to support a purchase in excess of $80,000, you may want to consider diesel version of the vehicle.

The HSE Td6 has plenty of power to go along with luxury, sportiness and better fuel economy.

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If you’re looking for the fuel efficient version of the luxurious Range Rover Sport, don’t take a test drive in the supercharged V-8 version, because the power might make you change your mind. Keep in mind, the diesel version is pretty peppy on its own. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

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The Range Rover Sport HSE Td6 is more firm in the turns than its larger Land Rover brethren. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

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The Range Rover Sport HSE Td6 has plenty of kick due to the torque generated by its efficient diesel engine. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

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Some versions of the sporty HSE Td6 come with dark accents instead of the traditional shiny chrome. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

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The touchscreen of the Range Rover HSE Td6 responds well, but also has knobs that some competitors have eliminated. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

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This Range Rover’s interior has all the luxury you would expect of a vehicle from the Land Rover family. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

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Pulling a John Deere riding mower was no challenge for this SUV. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

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All luxury SUVs come at a price: the purchase price combined with the fact that heavier vehicles with large V-8 engines burn through gas more quickly.

I really dig the V-8, but not everyone needs in excess of 500 horsepower with a paltry 15 mpg. Thankfully, the diesel version does better than that.

I spent a week in a $73,645 Range Rover Sport HSE Td6, the top trim level for the diesel model. The turbocharged V-6 diesel packs 254 hp, which doesn’t sound impressive, but a healthy 443 foot-pounds of torque will push you back in your seat. The Range Rover has plenty of pep for most drivers who are looking for both power and economy.

There is a bit of that diesel clatter on startup, but once you get going, you forget it’s a diesel — it’s very quiet on the road. I didn’t have a problem keeping up with traffic. (Tip: don’t drive a supercharged V-8 version, or you will be ruined for anything else.)

Fuel economy with this heavy (almost 5,000 pounds) SUV is surprisingly good. I did even better — 25.4 mpg in combined driving — than the 24 mpg the sticker predicted.

I’m not sure my small John Deere riding mower and trailer even registered as actual weight, but I did some towing, too. For those not used to driving with a hitch and trailer, the built-in camera system makes one-person operation simple. There’s even an optional towing package, which allows you to reverse, and steer, with rotary knob. You just point where you want to go and the car will make it happen.

My ride had the standard 20-inch wheels and they took city roads better than the larger wheels on previous Range Rover Sport models I’ve driven. The handling is somewhat sporty for a such a large and heavy vehicle. That means it’s firmer in turns compared to the even larger Land Rovers I’ve driven.

You always expect luxury with a Range Rover, and the Sport is no different. While not as spacious as the larger Land Rover, there’s ample space for up to five people. The HSE trim level includes higher-end perforated leather seats that are also heated and ventilated — front and back.

Rear seat space is good for most passengers, but taller riders might wish for a bit more leg room. Cargo space isn’t the best for this class of vehicle, but loading and unloading is a cinch with a quick and quiet hands-free tailgate.

A new, larger, 10-inch screen responds well to your touch and there are even knobs (something that the competitors seem to have eliminated) which add a nice option for easy operation.

Graphics on this Range Rover’s infotainment system are improved, but some of the competition is still better. The cockpit might not be as futuristic as some others, but I prefer the nice materials and classy, simple design of the Range Rover Sport.

The Range Rover Sport has the Land Rover bloodlines, but comes with a racier twist. I prefer its lower stance and the lower roofline, which adds to the “ready for anything” look.  Adding to “sport” feel of the SUV are vents on top of the hood and on the front fenders. Customers who might expect bright and shiny trim will notice a more subdued aluminum, and even some darker colors.

Adding to the look is the lack of running boards, that’s due to an air suspension that lowers for easy entry and exit.

My Range Rover Sport Td6 came in a classic Balmoral Blue, the color I would choose for myself. There’s also an option of a second color — in this case, a classy grey, for the roof.

If you want an SUV that can go just about anywhere: from the carpool to the cabin in the mountains, this Range Rover Sport can get you there in style. And with the efficient diesel option, you can go many more miles between fill-ups. The Range Rover Sport Td6 also drives like a smaller vehicle, and comes with a fun-to-drive attitude you don’t usually think of when you hear the name Land Rover.

Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.

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