Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: June 6, 2018
The full-size Range Rover gets a mid-cycle refresh for 2018 and it’s about time. This land yacht has been around since 2013. Much of it remains the same but it gets an injection of modern tech, better materials, wider seats, and interestingly combines the best (and worst) aspects of the other vehicles in the Range Rover stable, most notably the Range Rover Velar and Land Rover Discovery.
Let me get the “bad stuff” off my chest first because they are relatively minor issues. The new Range Rover adopts all those capacitive touch glossy buttons from the Velar, which are integrated into the steering wheel, memory seat buttons, and door mirror buttons. They are fancy, sleek, and definitely more modern looking, but they no longer have “grooves” on the steering wheel for me to “feel” where the buttons are. That means every time I want to change the song, which is awkwardly placed at the 2 o’clock position on the circular dial, I have to take my eyes off the road and look.
That goes for the new dual 10-inch touchscreens as well. They are about the size of a Nintendo Switch and again, distract the driver from the road when needing to input commands. They did leave a physical volume and temperature dial (when clicked, it commands the heated seats as well) though, so there’s that. As with Land Rover tradition, I did experience some freezing and lagging with the new InControl Touch Pro Duo system, almost like it didn’t have enough RAM to keep up when I was impatiently scrolling through the applications.
The final issue, which shows just how nitpicky I have to be to find any faults with this SUV, is with the key fob. It’s a new design for 2018, and follows the design from updated Jaguars like the E-Pace we drove earlier. I’m a big key fan, and I’ve hoarded and studied car keys since I was a kid. This one, no longer feels special. There is no “Range Rover” script like the outgoing model had, just a simple “Land Rover” logo out back. The front has a simplistic button layout and it does carry some extra weight than before but it no longer looks expensive, surely not enough to justify opening the doors to a $130,000 rig.
Now that we have our gripes out of the way, let me take you through the rest of the Range Rover, because there’s a lot to cover, and there’s a lot to like. After spending a solid week with this 2018 model, I’ve grown to desire one in my own garage.
The Range Rover gets a refreshed exterior design with new and slimmer front LEDs, front grill, integrated exhaust, and wheel designs, including this new Rossello Red paint colour (a no cost paint option). Can I have this colour on all my test vehicles? It’s stunning and comes off more as purple than it does red. The hue is deep, giving an incredible amount of depth, like peering into a thick layer of blackberry cake. The contrasting “Atlas” side stripes that come as part of the Black Pack ($2,140) is a styling feature that I think gives the Range Rover even more dimensionality.
The cabin gets a few upgrades, most notably the aforementioned touchscreens. Of note, the top screen can tilt for better viewing angles. Oddly, the screen can actually tilt until it is pointing down towards the center console. Not sure when you would ever need that. Furthermore, the head up display gets better graphics and the seat controls have been relocated to the side door panels, which allowed Range Rover to install new, wider, and softer seats. They don’t feel “softer” to me, but they do feel noticeably wider. Borrowed from the Discovery is the deep hidden center storage cubby that is revealed when you slide the cup holder tray inwards. Rear occupants now receive a domestic plug socket so you can charge your MacBook without needing an adapter. Overall, it’s a wonderful place to spend time in - six figure interiors don’t get much better than this.
The 2018 Range Rover comes with the same powertrain options as 2017: a turbodiesel V6 and supercharged V8 in two tunes. I am not sure if the diesel will have a place in the Canadian market in the near future, as sales are notably slumping. Land Rover knows it, and are keenly introducing a plug-in hybrid model that will go on sale this summer as a 2019 model.
I was given the opportunity to test the turbodiesel V6, codenamed Td6, and it’s better than ever. Power delivery is mildly smoother and quieter than before, and there is less tractor ruckus. It is not the most powerful steed in the stable and prefers to get up to speed leisurely rather than briskly. This SUV likes to take its time, and if you are used to driving Jaguars and Land Rovers with their supercharged engines, this delay in power may need some mental readjustment.
The tradeoff is superior fuel economy. With the supercharged V8s, I used to average an abysmal 16-18.0 L/100km depending on how much highway driving I was doing. With the diesel, I’m consistently averaging 8.0-10.0 L/100km, again depending on driving situations. Impressive.
A note about the suspension: I did notice some shimmies when driving over potholes and bumps. It never used to crash and shake this much during my previous experiences with the Range Rover, even with 22-inch wheels. My test vehicle rode on 21-inch wheels on Pirelli all-season tires. Even when the air suspension was set to Comfort mode, bumps did not treat the Range very well. On smooth pavement though, it’s like riding on cloud nine.
Overall, the changes to the Range Rover for 2018 are minor but make a noticeable difference to the overall user and driver experience. The technological updates are welcome with its screen-heavy interface that act as a colourful centerpiece, but the capacitive touch buttons are more inconvenient than helpful. The added seat comfort and upgrade in materials add some garnish to the overall cabin, and the diesel is still my preferred powertrain option with its potent low-end kick and frugal fuel consumption. To be honest, it’s hard to go wrong with any Range Rover and for 2018, they have somehow made it even harder to look anywhere else.
Model: 2018 Range Rover HSE Td6
Paint Type: Rossello Red
Base Price: $113,000
Price as Tested: $128,840
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,999 / 2,073 / 1,835
Curb weight (kg): 2,215
Engine: 3.0L turbodiesel V6
Horsepower: 254 hp @ 4,000 rpm
Torque: 440 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Fuel Consumption ( City/Highway/Combined ) L/100km: 10.5 / 8.0 / 9.4
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 8.7