With a barren desert highway stretching out toward the horizon, I sat relaxed as the warm evening air whipped through the cabin. This was my last hurrah behind the wheel of my long-term Range Rover Sport HSE Td6, and what a hurrah it was.
It's hard to imagine that I could be cruising across the desert floor at autobahn speeds in perfect comfort when just moments before I was driving through towering sand dunes going places most vehicles could never even imagine going. We had just finished filming an episode of Ignition in which Jonny Lieberman and Ken Block took two Ford Raptors into the Dumont Sand Dunes near Death Valley National Park. Throughout a day of drifting, jumping, and driving up the sides of mountainous dunes, a number of support vehicles and one of the usually unstoppable Raptors found themselves trapped in deep sand. The Range Rover rescued them all with its suspension raised to its off-road setting and its Terrain Response System set to sand mode.
This one day, this one moment even, is the epitome of what this Range Rover means to me?it's the ultimate luxury go-anywhere Grand Touring car. To say that my time with it has spoiled me is understating my feelings. How do you come back from this?
My year with our 2016 Range Rover Sport Td6 started by chance. Angus MacKenzie, the Rover's original chaperone, had just moved back to England. The logical choice to replace him in his duties, our Editor-in-Chief, Ed Loh, needed a larger vehicle to accommodate his morning surf outings. I happily surrendered my long-term Honda Pilot in exchange.
Having worked full-time at Motor Trend for almost seven years, I have spent a considerable amount behind the wheel of different Range Rovers. Throughout the years, I have sampled everything from supercharged V-8 Sport models to fully optioned uber-luxury full-size Range Rovers, but this would be my maiden voyage into luxury automobile ownership.
With a total price of $83,510, our diesel-sipping Range Rover Sport had $11,065 in optional equipment. Keeping me extra comfortable during long trips, the Front Climate Comfort and Visibility package included 16-way adjustable heated and cooled front seats clad in classy Oxford perforated leather. The second row occupants also got heated seats, and my hands were kept toasty in the cold climates by a heated steering wheel. Also included in the $2,620 package were Adaptive Xenon headlights, auto dimming exterior mirrors, and blind-spot monitoring. The $1,100 825-Watt Meridian Premium Audio package is well worth it and kept me listening in style during long trips. Another fun perk was that the front console was refrigerated, which meant I always had cold water and caffeinated beverages during long photo shoots.
The only negatives about the interior were that the seats could be a little firm and that classy light-colored leather was difficult to keep clean, especially because I regularly find myself in dusty, dirty photo locations. The infotainment system is also slow and outdated, but that has been a complaint about every Land Rover product I have ever driven?it's just par for the course. Hopefully in the coming years Range Rover will adopt the updated system found in the newest Jaguar offerings.
The remaining $7,345 of options include the $2,900 Driver Assistance package, the $1,750 Extra Duty package, $1,295 adaptive cruise control, $900 Tow package, and the $500 Panoramic Roof, which was very helpful for doing car-to-car photography! All of the packages combined made for a very nice vehicle to drive in any conditions imaginable.
That's the important part. No matter what you threw at it, the Range Rover handled it with ease. Whether it was long road trips, day-to-day driving in traffic, twisty mountain roads, off-road, snow, or sand, I was always filled with a sense of confidence that the Range Rover would get through it. It was by far the most versatile vehicle that I have ever owned. Because of its well roundedness, it meant that I drove it a lot. Together with other staffers, we racked up more than 27,000 miles over our year with the Range Rover.
So how did it hold up? The first issue we had directly followed the Rover's first service. Having never owned a luxury brand vehicle before, the $845.63 basic service was hard to swallow. The service interval is 15,000 miles, though, so that made it a little easier to get down. Unfortunately a few days after the service was completed, a fuel filter seal failed and left a massive puddle of diesel fuel in my driveway. My frustration was compounded when I found oil-covered rags that had been left in the engine bay from the service department. We also had reoccurring issues with a exhaust gas recirculation valve. It would stick and throw error codes that would occasionally cure themselves, and it sometimes need to taken into the dealer. We also picked up so many rock strikes that we needed to have the windshield replaced late in our loan to the tune of $1,828.92. During that same visit, they replaced the brake pads and did the second basic service all combined for a gut-wrenching amount of $3,386.50
Compared to our previous long-term Range Rover Sport and supercharged V-6 Range Rover, we spent significantly more on this Range Rover for maintenance and wear and tear. The additional basic service that was done early, the brakes, and the replacement windshield really added up.
I say it about all of my long-term test cars, but I will truly miss the Range Rover. I will miss everything about it from its versatile, competent driving characteristics to its classy Montalcino Red exterior paint and equally classy Oxford interior. It had its reliability issues, but the overall package more than made up for its shortcomings. $83,510 is a lot of money, but the Range Rover Sport HSE Td6 is a lot of vehicle.
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