— We recently drove 463 miles in a 2017 Land Rover Range Rover diesel, but not through rocky trails or desert mesas. The diesel-powered version of Land Rover's flagship SUV would have held its own in such straits, as we can attest, but we opted instead to log serious interstate miles to see what fuel economy its drivetrain would return.
That mileage, it turned out, was nearly 30 mpg.
Land Rover introduced a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6 (254 horsepower, 440 pounds-feet of torque) to the U.S. Range Rover and Range Rover Sport for the 2016 model year. With an eight-speed automatic transmission driving all four wheels, both SUVs received an EPA-estimated 22/29/25 mpg (city/highway/combined). The EPA revised this figure downward a year later as part of an industrywide mileage recalculation, leaving the 2017 Range Rover diesel (and its 2016 sibling via recast figures) at 22/28/24 mpg. The new figures are still 26 percent higher than the EPA's combined mileage (19 mpg) for the 2017 Range Rover's 3.0-liter supercharged gasoline V-6.
Our trip put the highway number to the test, taking us from downtown Chicago to northwest Michigan and back.
We didn't expect to beat the Range Rover's highway figure by nearly 2 mpg. But the trip computer registered as much: 29.8 mpg over 463.3 miles. Said tank accepted 16.285 gallons of diesel fuel, which works out to 28.4 mpg — in line with the SUV's EPA highway mileage by way of fill-up calculations. Either result isn't too shabby for a near-six-figure bank vault of an SUV.
Our test car carried two adults for about three-quarters of the trip and one adult for the remaining quarter, with light luggage in back the whole time. We averaged about 50 mph over the entire trip. Temperatures were in the 60s and 70s for both legs, with some crosswinds and headwinds (9 to 13 mph) starting eastbound but calm conditions or slight tailwinds (4 to 8 mph) otherwise. We avoided cruise control and the transmission's Sport mode (there is no Eco mode). We also kept the moonroof and windows closed, drove with the Range Rover's Terrain Response 2 system in its fully automatic setting and left the climate control in full automatic mode with cabin temperature set to the high 60s or low 70s most of the trip. We also drove like we normally would — no hypermiling or acceleration tests.
The Range Rover's steering is a little buoyant at highway speeds, but it packs superfluous ride comfort and enough torque for seamless top-gear passing. And kudos to Land Rover for preserving excellent visibility in its flagship model; the skinny A-pillars and upright windshield lend a commanding view of the road no matter how you sit.
Another bonus: The cost of diesel fuel usually mitigates its mileage gains, but it's actually cheaper — at least for now — than the premium gasoline preferred by most luxury vehicles, including the Range Rover. As of this writing, AAA pegs diesel fuel at $2.53 per gallon, while premium gas is $2.87. That's the sort of savings that could maintain diesel fuel's appeal among luxury shoppers, even as Volkswagen's massive emissions scandal has dealt a blow to the larger market's appetite for the stuff. It looks like Land Rover has no plans to ditch its diesel drivetrain, which accounts for roughly 1 in 5 new Range Rovers in 's national inventory, anytime soon.