At first glance, it's difficult to believe that the Land Rover Range Rover was updated for 2018. Land Rover says its flagship SUV sports a restyled clamshell hood, grille, headlights, bumpers and wheels. To confirm, I had to pull up pictures of the 2016 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Td6 I drove a couple of years back and put them side-by-side with ones of the 2018 HSE Td6 that's the subject of this review. There are slight differences, but they take quite a keen eye to pick out.
Big changes inside
As you slide into the cabin, new-for-2018 seats that are wider and more comfortable greet front passengers, while the power seat controls move to the door panels from the sides of the lower cushions making for easier adjustment. There's 0.2-inch-thicker glass, too, to better insulate the interior from road, wind and engine noise, which definitely works because the diesel clatter at low revs that I heard in the 2016 model isn't as prominent here.
However, the most noteworthy update to the 2018 Range Rover takes place in the center stack, with a new Touch Pro Duo system quarterbacking infotainment features. Dual 10-inch touchscreens control a great-sounding Meridian audio system with 19 speakers, navigation, a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 8 devices and Bluetooth. The new system will also be Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible with an upcoming software update that is coming any day now, according to a Land Rover spokesman.
Touch Pro Duo's screen resolution and graphics look good and thankfully there's still a physical volume button at the bottom of the stack, but some general operating issues remain. The system is occasionally slow to boot at vehicle startup, it responds sluggishly to commands and the navigation menu isn't the most intuitive to use when you want to enter destinations.
To juice up devices, there are three USB ports and two 12-volt sockets up front, while an additional two USB ports, two 12-volt outlets and a three-prong plug are located on the rear of the center console for back-seat occupants.
Safety technologies carry over from previous years, with blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, parking sensors, rear traffic alert and traffic sign recognition coming standard on the Range Rover's HSE trim level. Options on my test car include an excellent adaptive cruise control system, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist and a head-up display. A 360-degree camera is also installed to help make maneuvering the big Rover into parking spaces a cinch.
Everything else in the cabin is also familiar with a high seating position, spacious second-row seats and an eye-pleasing mixture of stitched leather, wood and silver finishes. The 31.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row serves me well during numerous runs to Home Depot for supplies. One trip to move two toilets requires folding the rear seats down to open up 68.6 cubic feet of space, which easily accommodates the porcelain thrones.
Driving the diesel-powered Rover is still a treat with 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 churning out 254 horsepower and a muscular 443 pound-feet of torque. The slight lull in the powerband at throttle tip-in is a little annoying, but from 1,800 rpm on the oil-burner pulls hard and the ZF-built eight-speed automatic gearbox goes about its business in a seamless manner.
Together they get the 4,958-pound sled to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, which is far from slow all things considered. The diesel is a step behind the supercharged V6 model that hits 60 in 7.1 seconds. But it makes up for its acceleration deficit with estimated fuel economy of 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway for a driving range of up to 658 miles per tank. Compared to the gas engine's 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway ratings, that isn't a bad consolation prize.
The Range Rover's standard air suspension system still provides a supremely cushy ride around town, softening blows from small to medium bumps when you have the car in Comfort mode. Steering effort is light and response isn't the snappiest here, but it's all perfect to make slogs through rush hour as relaxing as possible.
Sharper reflexes are available in Dynamic mode to tighten suspension, steering and drivetrain response, but you're not going to mistake the Range Rover for a sports car. There's still noticeable lean at corner turn-in before it takes a set. There's respectable grip and composure from the P255/55R20 Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season tires, and the brakes get things slow in rapid fashion.
How I'd spec it
Since I'm a big fan of diesels for their torque and range, my Range Rover will have the diesel, which is a $2,000 premium over the supercharged gas V6. I will also spring for the HSE model because it comes standard with blind spot monitoring and traffic sign recognition, and I like always having a reminder of the speed limit. That begins at $97,045, including $995 destination.
From there I would add the $2,400 Vision Assist Package, mainly for the 360-degree camera and head-up display, and $135 for the three-prong power outlet because those come in handy to power bigger electronics like laptops. This brings the price tag of my ideal Range Rover to $99,880, undercutting my test car's $108,040 as-tested price by a respectable amount.
The only diesel
When it comes to large luxury SUVs, the Range Rover has a few competitors like the Infiniti QX80, Lexus LX 570 and Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class that are all getting up there in age. Compared to those three, the Rover features a superior mix of ride comfort and handling, being nicely compliant when needed with things in the Comfort setting and composed enough in Dynamic. I also happen to think it looks the best out of the group.
But the biggest selling point for the Range Rover is the available diesel engine. It's the only game in town now that Benz no longer offers it on the GLS. Thankfully, this diesel's a good one.