The 2006 Land Rover Range Rover comes in two new flavors. In addition to a fresh base-model designation of HSE, for the first time in Land Rover’s history there is a sporty Supercharged version. Land Rover would tell you that, unlike Porsche with its turbocharged Cayenne, its flagship Supercharged model is meant to be spirited, but not racy. Additionally, its new 4WD system, borrowed from the 2005 Land Rover LR3, is not only proven, but has garnered awards in the automotive industry. Plus, Land Rover has thoroughly updated its flagship and bumped it more upscale. Sure to please both loyalists and newcomers, the 2006 Land Rover Range Rover’s changes serve each of these buyers.
For 2006, Land Rover’s ace card is the all-new, blower-fed, performance-tuned Range Rover Supercharged. Not that long ago, SUVs were all about 4WD, safety, and cargo-carrying prowess. Today, performance is an attribute that has been added to the equation. Consider the Mercedes-Benz M-Class AMG, the BMW X5 4.8is, and the Porsche Cayenne.
The essence of Range Rover’s top-of-the-line model is a Jaguar-sourced 4.2-liter V8 engine, with a Roots-type supercharger attached. For this application, the displacement has decreased from the normally aspirated HSE version – equipped with a 4.4-liter – as a result of different cylinder liners meant to withstand the extra boost. The bore has been narrowed, but the stroke of the cylinders remains the same. Output is 400 horsepower at 5,750 rpm, with 420 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm. This amounts to 35 percent more power, and 25 percent more torque than the current BMW-sourced V8, a relic from the time that Land Rover was owned by that Bavarian marque. The new supercharged version’s zero-to-60 mph time is 1.5 seconds faster, getting the Range Rover Supercharged to 60 mph in just 7.1 seconds, and its 60-100 mph acceleration is 25 percent quicker than before.
The base Range Rover HSE’s 4.4-liter engine is also a Jaguar unit, featuring variable camshaft phasing and producing 305 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and 325 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm. It is now half a second faster, with a 20 percent increase in its 8.3-sec. zero-to-60 time, and its maximum power is increased by 20 bhp, or 7 percent.
Both engines are lightweight, with advanced torque-based engine management systems and drive-by-wire throttle control, and boasting improved emissions and fuel economy. The Range Rover Supercharged returns an estimated combined rating of 17.5 mpg and the HSE gets 18.3 mpg. In comparison, the previous Range Rover offered between 14 and 16 mpg in mixed driving.
Because of Land Rover’s legendary 4WD heritage, these engines were upgraded from their applications in Jaguar sedans with a bias for both on-and-off road capability. As a result, they build more torque at lower revs and are able to operate at extreme vehicle angles and while wading through water, important ingredients for the serious off-roader. However, Land Rover’s engineers point out that low-end torque is not only for off-road driving; it also provides better throttle response from a stop, and during low-speed driving maneuvers. Matched to both of the Range Rover's engines is a six-speed automatic transmission. This electronically controlled, “intelligent” gearbox includes adaptive mapping to accentuate performance, as well as a CommandShift feature, which gives you clutchless manual control.
Nuts and Bolts
Permanent 4WD is standard on the 2006 Land Rover Range Rover, along with electronic traction control (ETC) and dynamic stability control (DSC). These systems work in tandem with the throttle, transmission, brakes, and suspension to maximize traction. The transfer case provides low-range gearing and the center differential is now electronically controlled to improve handling on and off the road, says Land Rover.
More difficult terrain is handled by the 4WD system’s low range. Land Rover’s Terrain Response system (first seen in the 2005 LR3) includes five settings for off-road and traction-compromised road travel, activated through the large, center-console mounted rotary knob. A general setting handles clear roads while another addresses slippery conditions created by grass, gravel or snow. Finally, three different modes are reserved for off-roading: one for mud and ruts; one for sand; and one for intense rock crawling. Once set, the system modulates ride height, engine torque response, traction control, hill descent control, and all gearing.
Both Range Rovers come with four-wheel independent, height adjustable air suspension and a tire pressure monitoring system. The height adjustable air suspension raises and lowers the vehicle, allowing it to ford up to 20 inches of standing water while also making it easier to get into and out of the Range Rover.
Well-behaved stopping power for this nearly three-ton SUV is produced by a four-wheel-disc antilock braking system, oversized in the supercharged model with 14.2-inch rotors up front and 13.9-inch rotors in the rear, clamped by four-piston Brembo front calipers. HSE versions use 13.3- and 13.8-inch discs front and rear, respectively. Standard on the Supercharged are 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels dressed in 255/50R20 tires; the HSE rides on 19-inchers wrapped in 255/55R19 tires.
What you’ll notice first about the 2006 Range Rover is that it retains its distinctive design, but with subtle exterior differences. Range Rover HSE models include a new three-bar platinum colored grille, with a lighter and brighter finish. The bumper is wider and thicker, better integrated and equipped with lower air intakes, accented by slimmer wrap-around one-piece headlights. The HSE’s side vents are also redesigned with two vanes. The supercharged version is bolder, with a bigger diamond mesh grille to meet the engine’s increased air intake needs. Side vents include three vanes that match the mesh of the front grille. While these styling cues mimic other performance models, we think they appear more ‘boy racer,’ an image that doesn’t fit with the prestige of the Range Rover marque. New styling cues in back include revised taillamp graphics, styled uniquely for each model – neutral on the supercharged, and red on the HSE.
Inside, the 2006 Land Rover Range Rover gets two new trim colors: ivory and jet black. Distinctions include perforated center seat panels, Grand Black lacquer wood trim, updated instrument pack graphics, and stainless steel pedals. We give high marks for the new interior, which is clean and bespeaks quality.
During our ride along the busy San Francisco freeways, what immediately struck us was the quietness of the 2006 Range Rover’s interior. Noise and vibration engineers used their magic to remove unwanted noises, but kept a pleasant engine sound that’s audible when you push on the throttle. Not surprisingly, this is much more noticeable in the supercharged version, but not as loud as the Porsche Cayenne S and Turbo. Added tranquility is the result of isolating the center transmission cradle, adding extensive noise reduction pads in the cabin and under the hood, and tuning the intake and exhaust to enhance the quality of the engine sound. Laminated front glass and re-profiled A-post finishers reduce wind noise, as well. It was along the twisty roads north of the city that we began to appreciate the revised chassis of the 2006 Range Rover. New springs, new dampers and engine mounts, and larger anti-roll bars create the most behaved on-road ride that Land Rover has ever produced, making it heads above another off-road mountain goat – the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. Steering response has been tweaked for better on-center feel, and for the first time in a Range Rover, you can carve a turn without mid-corner correction, not always the case in past models.
Loaded with equipment, the 2006 Land Rover Range Rover features Sirius satellite radio, broadcasted through a harmon/kardon Logic7 digital surround-sound audio system with a six-disc, in-dash CD changer and 14 speakers. A centrally mounted touch-screen provides the interface for the audio and satellite navigation systems, a rear-view camera, rear seat entertainment, a telephone with Bluetooth connectivity, and a 4WD system information display including Hill Descent Control (HDC) status. Also standard is three-zone automatic climate control with a pollen filter, steering wheel mounted controls, an eight-airbag supplemental restraint system including curtain protection, and a heated windshield with rain-sensing wipers.
The more-pricey Supercharged model adds premium leather; a Cold Climate Package; standard rear-seat DVD entertainment with twin 6.5-inch display monitors; and adaptive bi-Xenon front headlamps, which take input from speed and steering, and swivel the lights during cornering.Options include even nicer leather on the seating surfaces, a Heating Package that adds heated washer jets, 16-way power front seats (rather than 12-way), auto-dimming exterior mirrors, a Rear Seat Entertainment Package with 6.5-in. LCD monitors in the back of the front headrests, and satellite radio.
Wrap-up and Specs
While the updates to the standard Range Rover are appreciated, the big news is the 2006 Range Rover Supercharged, a new exercise for Land Rover that combines strength, performance and refinement like the company never has before. Premium segments today demand that combination, and in the upscale SUV marketplace, it seems more important than ever. Why? Because sport-utility vehicles, no matter how refined, possess an implicit ruggedness but, there is a growing market for fast-moving and fast-sounding SUVs. Finding the proper balance has become the universal price of entry in the upper reaches of the class, and Land Rover is setting the bar higher with the new Range Rover Supercharged.
Test Vehicle(s): 2006 Land Rover Range Rover HSE and Supercharged: $89,950
Price Range: $74,950 to $89,950
Engine Size and Type: 4.4-liter V8 (HSE); 4.2-liter supercharged V8 (Supercharged)
Engine Horsepower: 305 at 5,750 rpm (HSE); 400 at 5,750 rpm (Supercharged)
Engine Torque: 325 lb.-ft. at 4,000 rpm (HSE); 420 lb.-ft. at 3,500 rpm (Supercharged)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Curb weight, lbs.: 5,474 lbs. (HSE); 5,849 lbs. (Supercharged)
EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway): 14/24 mpg (estimated)
Length: 195.7 inches
Width: 77 inches; 86.3 inches (w/ side mirrors)
Wheelbase: 113.3 inches
Height: 75 inches
Legroom (front/rear): 38.9/35.5 inches
Head room (front/rear): 40.2/38.3 inches
Max. Seating Capacity: 5
Max. Cargo Volume: 74.9 cu.-ft.
Max. Payload: 985 lbs.
Max. Towing Capacity: 7,716 lbs.
Ground Clearance: 8.9 - 11.2 inches
Competitors: BMW X5 4.8is; Cadillac Escalade, Hummer H1, Hummer H2, Infiniti QX56, Lexus LX 470, Lincoln Navigator, Mercedes-Benz G500, Porsche Cayenne, Toyota Land Cruiser
Photos courtesy of Land Rover North America