2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Road Test

2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Road Test

Climb Any Mountain

While many manufacturers claim title to creating the Sport Utility Vehicle category, few can provide the kind of evidence in support
Land Rover created the luxury off-road segment with its Range Rover, and after 35 years it's still the most capable, most luxurious vehicle in its class. (Photo: Land Rover Canada)
as can Land Rover.

Lost in the patchouli-scented mists of the Sixties is the fact that the then-British owned automaker conceived and created a vehicle that personified what the company's marketing department of the day defined as "tough luxury."

The idea, according to Land Rover lore, was "to build a vehicle that combined saloon car levels of performance, handling, ride comfort and refinement, with all the ruggedness and off-road ability of a Land Rover." Hmmm... sounds awfully like the 21st century SUV sales pitch to me.

And just what was that new vehicle's name? Range Rover, a vehicle that redefined the off-road segment by defining the luxury off-road segment, and by so doing sparking a long string of imitators that continues to this day,
This week's tester is the base 2006 Range Rover HSE, but with a near six-figure sticker price it is a little hard not to choke a little on the words "entry-level". (Photo: Land Rover Canada)
has been so successful an icon in the 4x4 world that most admirers don't even realize it's produced by Land Rover at all, but rather Range Rover, while a brand within a brand, is actually a brand unto itself.

Model year 2006 marks the 35th anniversary of so-called tough luxury, and the past three-and-a-half decades have seen Range Roves just get tougher and more luxurious with each passing year.

This week's tester is the base 2006 Range Rover HSE, but with a near six-figure sticker price it is a little hard not to choke a little on the words "entry-level". In addition to the HSE, Land Rover showrooms are filling with new supercharged HSEs, 35th Anniversary Limited Edition models, and inspired Ranger Rover Sports (more on that in a future column) for the new model year.


Apart from some subtle exterior tweaks, the '06 model looks much like the '05. Pop the hood, though, and you'll come face to face with
Horsepower has been increased to 305 while peak torque remains 325 lb-ft, launching the big SUV to 100 km/h in just over nine seconds. (Photo: Land Rover Canada)
the biggest change to the new model. Gone is the BMW-sourced engine, a carryover from the days when BMW, which designed the current Ranger Rover, owned the Land Rover company, replaced by a new Jaguar-sourced 4.4-litre V8 that is more powerful, yet less thirsty than the German engine.

Horsepower has been increased to 305 while peak torque remains 325 lb-ft, launching the big SUV to 100 km/h in just over nine seconds - which is almost a full second quicker than last year's model. In case you were wondering, a version of the same 4.2-litre supercharged V8 that first appeared in Jaguar's XJR, and then in the XKR and S-Type R makes 400-horsepower in the supercharged HSE.

In
The off-road ruggedness of Land Rover's Range Rover is pretty much unequalled. (Photo: Land Rover Canada)
addition to the new engine, the '06 HSE features improvements to the brakes, steering system, suspension, interior, and also to sound dampening.

The off-road ruggedness of Land Rover's Range Rover is pretty much unequalled, with only its own Land Rover LR3, Jeep's new Commander and recently updated Grand Cherokee, Volkswagen's Touareg, Porsche's Cayenne (which is more or less a Touareg with Porsche styling inside and out, and a unique V8 engine), Audi's new Q7 (which is basically a Touareg in drag) and lest I not forget, the mighty Mercedes-Benz G-Class as well as the legendary Toyota Land Cruisers, the latter available in Canada in Lexus GX and LX nomenclatures, capable of putting up a decent fight while still maintaining a high degree of civility.


When it comes to luxury, mind you, the Range Rover leaves all competitors in the dust thanks to more solid wood
When it comes to luxury, mind you, the Range Rover leaves all competitors in the dust thanks to more solid wood planking than on anything this side of a Bentley, real metal trim and rich, sumptuous leather just about everywhere else. (Photo: Land Rover Canada)
planking than on anything this side of a Bentley, real metal trim and rich, sumptuous leather just about everywhere else.

In addition to all the technological bells and whistles found your top-of-the-line luxury sedans, the HSE adds a mouth-watering list for 2006, including adaptive headlights, tire pressure monitoring, touch screen controls for audio, phone and off-road driving information, a rearview camera and a six-disc DVD changer with twin screens pointing towards rear seat passengers, integrated into the backs of the front headrests no less. The monitors combine with a multi-speaker stereo for an audio-visual experience fitting for children of the well-heeled.

Outside
the most obvious negative was its rather hopeless fuel economy - rating at 18.7 L/100 km in the city and 12.2 L/100 km on the highway (15/23). (Photo: Land Rover Canada)
distractions should be kept to a minimum too, as the HSE is extremely quiet thanks to all of that extra sound deadening material I mentioned earlier in the review.

Other than the need to take out a second mortgage just to afford the down payment, the most obvious negative was its rather hopeless fuel economy - rating at 18.7 L/100 km in the city and 12.2 L/100 km on the highway (15/23).

Other than gluttonous fuel consumption I figure the only thing wrong with taking the Ranger Rover HSE to Whistler for a day of skiing is that you'd never want to get out of it once having arrived at the lift parking lot. Sounds like a nice problem to have.


Specifications (HSE):
  • Price Range (MSRP): $99,900 - $114,350 (supercharged HSE sells for more)
  • Body Type: 5-door SUV
  • Layout: front engine, 4WD
  • Engine: 305 hp, 315 lb-ft of torque, 4.4L DOHC 32-valve V8
  • Transmission: 6-spd auto
  • Brakes (front/rear): disc/disc, ABS
  • Seating Capacity: 5
  • Cargo Volume (seats up/folded): 990 / 1,760 L (35.0 / 62.0 cu-ft)
  • Warranty (mo/km): 48 / 80,000 comprehensive
  • Direct Competitors: Audi Q7 V8, Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX45, Jeep Grand Cherokee / Commander, Lexus GX 470 / LX 470, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz G-Class, Porsche Cayenne S / Cayenne Turbo, Volkswagen Touareg V8
  • Web Site: www.landrover.com
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