2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Road Test

2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE Road Test

2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc) 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE  (Photo: John LeBlanc)
Six straight questions

Now here's a rare beast. Ultra-luxury sports-utility-vehicles, with their inherent ostentations, have always been questionable propositions. So why do people still slaver over these big Rangies?
For one thing, they must have pretty bad memories. Land Rovers from the early 1990's were some of the most troublesome and unreliable cars
(Photo: John LeBlanc)
extant. But for those who can afford them--royalty, tennis players, film stars, et al--stuck with the brand. Tells you how powerful the green oval is as a status symbol. Which is probably why BMW bought Land Rover and Rover cars over 10 years ago in the first place. Like a knowing nod from the bouncer at a hard-to-get-into night club, BMW was granted instant access to the profitable high-end SUV segment where its mid-sized X5 would always be denied. The Rover car division nearly did BMW in, so the Bavarians sold off Land Rover to Ford in 2000, who by now was the unofficial nanny of British brands having already fostered Jaguar and Aston Martin. What Ford got in the deal was arguably the best Land Rover ever in the form of the new Range Rover, effectively a BMW engineered and designed product.

Not that I asked for it, but thanks for the history lesson. So contemporary Range Rovers aren't such an ownership risk anymore?
Before you think this is just a bigger BMW X5, the new Range Rover still holds all the off-road prowess the brand has built its reputation on since
(Photo: John LeBlanc)
the Second World War. Modern technologies combined with years of experience within the walls of Land Rover's engineering offices means that despite the uptown look, the big beast can still traverse terrain that world have most car-based SUVs running home to mommy. The bonus is modern standards in reliability and durability as well. And since the introduction of the current model in 2003, the Range Rover has had one of the most desirable interiors this side of a Rolls-Royce Phantom. Once inside the cockpit--with its real wood, unique controls and stitched leather--there's no question which country of origin the Range Rover hails from, Guv'nor. The 12-way power-adjustable driver seat and 10-way passenger throne are royally upright, so you can get a good look at what's coming ahead either on- or off-road. And because Land Rover didn't try and cram in seven seats, all five passengers enjoy roomy accommodations. In fact, those in the rear enjoy their own climate controls and power-adjustable headrests. If you can afford the price of admission--the base price of my 2006 Range Rover HSE test car was $99,900--this is one luxury SUV that won't disappoint on the its abilities to please in so many different driving situations.

I heard something about a new supercharged engine this year?
The top-of-the line Range Rover comes in two trims: HSE and Supercharged. For 2006, a duo of Jaguar-sourced vee-eights supplant the
(Photo: John LeBlanc)
previous BMW mill. The HSE comes with a 305 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque 4.4-litre engine that's also found in lesser Land Rovers such as the LR3 and Range Rover Sport. Not surprisingly, the Range Rover Supercharged gets a supercharged vee-eight, this time only 4.2-litres but producing 400 h.p. and 420 lb.-ft. of torque. You're probably not surprised that a permanent four-wheel-drive system and a height-adjustable suspension are standard on the HSE, along with low-range gearing and a maximum of 282 millimetres of ground clearance for earnest off-roading. The only transmission choice is a six-speed automatic with a sequential-shift manual mode. Towing capacity (think horse trailers, yachts, bank vaults, etc.) is another reason to get one of these beasts; it stands at a healthy 3,493 kilograms. Other upgrades for 2006 include a revised grille, side vents and lights (front and rear), new wheel options, and laminated front side windows and revised A-pillars for a more serene ride.


After I've dropped the horses off at the stable, what will the drive home be like in the RR HSE?
(Photo: John LeBlanc)
With most of the kudos going to the air suspension, this big rig can be driven with verve and not totally fall down on its knees. Steering is never heavy and there's a surprising amount of feel. The physics of such a tall (nearly two metres) and weighty (almost 2,500 kilograms) vehicle do come into play--it ain't no Jag XK--so corners need to be taken with due respect. Having said that, rough pavement is dismissed as easily as a curt maitre'd. And the overall impression is that the car is impenetrable to the daily nuisances of road noise or imperfections in pavement.

So what's not to like?
Between the high price and fuel consumption, this is not a cheap car to run. And based on luxury sedan standards--which for most customers, is what the Range Rover is being cross-shopped against--some of the
(Photo: John LeBlanc)
cockpit's ergonomics can be described as 'having character' and despite an abundance of natural materials, plastic still pops up here and there.

And the likes?
There's no denying the sense of occasion when piloting this car courtesy of the brand's image and social presence. Coldly measured against other luxury vehicles--SUVs or not--the HSE is up to the task with standard amenities and features such as 19-inch wheels, HID headlights, three-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, rearview parking camera, DVD-based navigation system, 14-speaker, 710-watt Harman Kardon sound system. What can I say, it's good to be king.
More Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, and Land Rover Reviews & News