Tom Crosby: 2016 Range Rover continues to be off-road master

Tom Crosby

Tom Crosby

Range Rover owners worried least about driving on ice-slicked, snow-covered roads during the recent record-setting Northeastern blizzard. Arguably the world’s best premium sport utility vehicle, our 2016 five-seater Range Rover HSE test-drive once again showed that while the price of ownership is steep, the reward is exceptional capability to handle on-road or off-road challenges.

While most owners won’t drive through pastures or forests, the confidence to do so comes after easily negotiating snowy, icy and rainy streets. Dynamic sensors control full-time all-wheel drive. adjusting wheel spin, traction and suspension as needed.

Steering is responsive, grip is glue-like on macadam surfaces, and drivers sit high for excellent visibility, except behind when rear head restraints are raised. When in park, the HSE now lowers for ease of entry and can rise to 11.6 inches of ground clearance when needed, on or off-road. A stop/start feature conserves gas but sometimes jerks into gear.

New this year are diesel models, expected to be 20 percent of sales. Our gas-powered High Specification Edition included vision assist for $2,110 with surround cameras, blind spot monitor, traffic detection when in reverse and All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC); an $800 towing package that will handle 7,716 pounds and comes with a spare tire; $1,850 that included Meridian Premium audio that didn’t cut off in traditional cell-phone dead spots, and $556 for push button emergency summons and smartphone link that can remotely unlock doors among other features. The ATPC, which only works in one of the four not normal drive modes (snow, rut, sand, rock crawl), uses sensors to determine which of the 20-inch wheels have the best traction and powers accordingly while maintaining steering stability.

The all-aluminum monocoque, boxy outside look isn’t compelling but the luxurious interior is. New 10-way power twin-needle stitched Oxford leather seats, brushed aluminum, chrome surrounds and polished, handcrafted wood veneer are top quality with tight fit and finish. There are flip-down side-door trays; over/under leather covered glove compartments, and a deep center console with auxiliary, EV and twin USB ports.

The 8-inch touch-screen is intuitive, easily reached and displays the four most used controls on the home page – audio, climate, phone and navigation. Access to a spacious rear storage area is easy with a split upper/lower automatic tailgate. Rear seats fold easily. Safety features are strong.

Tata Motors of India owns Jaguar/Land Rover and after launching a fourth generation Range Rover in 2012, sales have increased annually.

LIKES: Looks, versatility, high tech, interior comfort, handling
DISLIKES: Rear visibility, price, stop/start jerk
BOTTOM LINE: Status, performance and exceptional interior luxury

FACT FILE
RANGE ROVER HSE

Base price plus destination fee: $92,945 ($98,361 as tested)
Curb weight: 4,918 lbs.
Wheelbase: 115 inches
Length: 196.8 inches
Width: 78.1 inches
Engine specs: 3.0 liter, supercharged V-6
Horsepower: 375 hp at 6,500 rpm
Torque: 332 ft.-lbs. at 3,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic w/manual paddles
EPA eating: 17 mpg city, 23-mpg highway
Range: 27.7 gallons,
Performance: 0 to 60 in just under 8 seconds

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