Through its history, Land Rover has retained a well-deserved reputation for offroad ruggedness and capability. In more modern times, however, these vehicles – especially the Range Rover models – have stepped away from their military builds and entered the sophisticated realm of modern luxury without losing the root expertise and capability Land Rover is known for. With the 2016 Range Rover Sport, a new diesel powerplant makes for a get-anywhere machine worthy of royalty.

Today's Range Rover can jump the ditch and ply the wilderness with the best of them, but does so with a look so classy that, once out of the bush, it can cruise through town and look good in front of the opera house. Interiors have also kept up with this trend.

For 2016, the Range Rover sees the addition of a new V6 diesel option for the Sport model. This adds improved fuel economy to the mix, with most of the Sport gasoline models landing somewhere in the 15 mpg (15.7 L/100km) range with their combined EPA rating. The diesel model ups that to a much more respectable 25 mpg (9.4 L/100km) combined. During our week with the 2016 Range Rover Sport HSE, we saw about 26.5 mpg (8.88 L/100km) overall after over 500 miles (805 km) of driving.

What's more, this is a responsive, well-mannered diesel that doesn't scare people away with its rumbling or sluggish takeoffs. Jaguar Land Rover knows how to make a proper diesel powerplant with muscle and get-up as its primary concerns. This turbo-diesel V6 produces 254 hp (189 kW) and 440 lb-ft (597 Nm) of torque. This provides both good acceleration when merging on the freeway or passing another vehicle and excellent low-speed torque for navigating difficult terrain. The Rover's well-tuned and adaptive suspension (also standard) handles both bumpy off-track driving and a smooth highway with ease and relative comfort.

Full-time four-wheel drive is standard in all Range Rover Sport models through Land Rover's Terrain Response system. This allows the driver to select the terrain style and let the vehicle adjust accordingly. A new All-Terrain Progress Control system creates a sort of low-speed cruise control for crawling over difficult terrain, allowing the driver to focus on steering and maneuvers. As the Range Rover name would imply, there are few places that the Sport model cannot go.

Inside, the 2016 Range Rover Sport contains all of the luxury now associated with the Range Rover name. The raked dashboard and roomy seats are a solid start towards this luxurious feel, which continues with top-shelf materials including beautiful inlays of wood and metal. Visibility is very good as well, with plenty of greenhouse to see the world go by and little to impede that view.

There is a third row option for the Range Rover Sport, but our test model didn't have it included. Having seen it at events, however, we'd say that it's definitely only suited for children. Cargo space, on the other hand, is a bit limited in the Sport model at only 27.7 cu.ft (784 L) with the second row up and 62.2 cu.ft. (1,761 L) with everything folded. We do like the new "kick to open" feature that allows the rear cargo door to be opened with the wave of a foot under the bumper (provided the keyfob is nearby), which is handy when arms are full.

In all driving conditions, the 2016 Range Rover Sport is a comfortable ride. The diesel engine can be heard at idle, but only just so, and it quiets quickly when accelerating and at speed. Around town, the Sport is as maneuverable as its name might imply and becomes as easy to park as any sedan. On the highway, it's quiet and very well-mannered with a soft, but not too cushy ride quality that lets you know it's rugged but doesn't press the issue. Off the road, it's confident and smart, as a Range Rover should be.

For everything that it is, the 2016 Range Rover Sport with the diesel option is a definite "must see" in the luxury sport utility category. It's sporty, capable, and very well designed. There are many compelling options in this market, but among greats, the Range Rover Sport remains excellent.

Product Page: Range Rover Sport

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