I drove a $109,000 Range Rover hybrid to see if technology could improve on an already impressive SUV - here's the verdict
- I recently tested a Range Rover HSE P400e - an expensive, luxury SUV with a nifty hybrid drivetrain.
- Range Rover is known for solid off-road performance, chic style, and for six-and-eight-cylinder engines and diesels - not drivetrains that get a boost from electric motors.
- But I found the small-displacement four-cylinder engine in this SUV, matched up with a hybrid system, to be an excellent piece of engineering.
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Everybody wants SUVs, and some people want fancy, high-end utes. Their needs are being abundantly addressed right now by all the major automakers.
Customers who've always valued premium vehicles that can nonetheless hold up under extreme conditions and handle anything nature throws at them have for decades grooved on Range Rovers (and before them, Land Rovers). These trucks have snoot appeal, but don't be distracted by their upper-crust boosters. We're talking landed gentry here, and the land often didn't have roads.Range Rover's problem is that it makes vehicles with big gas motors, and the ones that don't fall into that category run in diesel. These are great drivetrains, but they're out of step with a future in which sub-20-mpg vehicles could be effectively outlawed. So Range Rover and its engineers need to begin exploring ways to preserve the brand's DNA while still preparing for day when 5.0-liter supercharged V8s simply won't cut it.
The Range Rover HSE P400e I recently drove is an early effort. It poses a tough question: Can a small-ish hybrid engine get the job done for a Range?
Read on to find out if it can.