ON THE ROAD 2-21: 2020 Land Rover Range Rover HSE

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By Peter Perrotta

Like certain charismatic people who seem to be able to walk into a room full of people and exude an “air “ about them, some automobiles have that same effect when spotted gliding down the road.

This theory is even more solidified when you enter the interior cabin of some of these upper crust vehicles – you get a certain feeling that tells you this is an expensive, refined piece of machinery.

The 2020 Land Rover Range Rover HSE SUV is one such vehicle.

I recently road tested this expensive – $111,544 as tested – SUV and couldn’t help but feeling that each time I took it out for a spin I was part of one of those old Grey Poupon mustard commercials.

For those that don’t remember, the French mustard maker ran a famous TV ad campaign back in the 80s. It featured one motorist sitting in the back of a chauffeured Rolls Royce pulling along side of another motorist in a chauffeured Rolls Royce and asking: “Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?”

The other motorist simply replies: “But, of course”. They exchange the mustard, and then the ad closes with classical music playing and the announcer stating: “Grey Poupon. One of life’s finer pleasures.”

It’s safe to say that if your budget can afford it and you happen to own a 2020 Land Rover Range Rover HSE, you are indulging in one of life’s finer pleasures.

While not perfect – no car is – the Range Rover HSE (high specification edition) is certainly a head turner.

The drive through clerk at my local Starbucks admitted to me one morning: “that’s the car I always dreamed of owning.” And, the owner of the Middle Eastern restaurant I usually go to stopped me to ask a lot of questions about it – and he was the proud owner of a BMW X6.

The Range Rover HSE comes in several variations. The model I road tested was the Range Rover HSE P400. This model is the same size as most of the other variations, but features a 3.0 liter turbocharged V6 engine with a 16 watt electric boost battery. This combination of electric and gas power is a capable of producing an impressive 395 horsepower.

While you can still get a V8 supercharged engine (that produces more than 500 hp) in some of the even more pricer models – like the $143,800 based price Autobiography P525 – I found the V6 with electric boost engine in my tester to be more than adequately powered.

I had no problem accelerating quickly on the on and off ramps of the interstate. Passing with authority on the highway was also quite simple with the V6 turbo engine that the folks at the UK based Land Rover tab a “mild hybrid”.

The base price of the model I test drove is $96,150. However, my tester came equipped with $14,099 worth of options.

Those options included: $4,000 for the driver assist package; $2,855 for upgraded 21-inch, 7-spoke wheels; $1,785 for the vision assist package; $1,090 for the Atlas exterior accents; $665 for the black contrast roof; $610 for the 20-way power, heated and cooled front seats; $549 for the basic interior protection package; $430 for a 21-inch spare tire; $355 for a front console cooler; $350 for wade sensing; $170 for all terrain progress control and $155 for terrain response 2.

The most expensive of these option packages – the driver assist – includes a slew of safety features including: blind spot assist; surround camera system; adaptive cruise with steering assist; high speed emergency braking; lane keep assist and park assist.

My tester featured an Indus Silver exterior with a very impressive combination interior – a contrasting ebony/ivory design.

While the look and design of the exterior of the Range Rover hasn’t changed much through the years – it still features that boxy but rugged stance – in my opinion it’s on the inside where this Rover stands out the most.

The interior accoutrements of the 2020 Range Rover HSE easily outclass a number of its competitors in the similar model class.

First off, the quality of the leather used on the seats and to cover the steering wheel and large portions of the front dash is top-notch. Like a fine Italian soft leather coat, the material used here just feels expensive. The leather wrapped steering wheel is heated and the suede headliner is made of first class material as well.

Moreover, all of the knobs, switches and ambient lighting exude luxury refinement as well.

“You pay for all this,” noted one passenger who drove in my car last week. Yes, you do. But, not all luxury car makers go to such great lengths to impress.

This center screen infotainment center is also top notch. The touch and feel of the wide screen navigation system that also controls the phone and your music sources is very responsive and easy to use.

Below that screen sits a large vehicle settings screen that is also quite intuitive and easy to learn and operate.

The driving mode selector on the center console is also quite impressive. There the driver is able to select from a number of different driving modes that automatically adjust the air suspension and tire pressure depending on which preferred method of driving is selected.

The driving mode choices include: comfort; dynamic; ice; snow; mud; sand; sand and gravel and hill climbing.

I tested this Range Rover off road on some sandy trails in the Jersey Pines and it was way more than adequate.

The EPA fuel ratings for the Rover I tested came in at 21 miles per gallon overall – 25 mpg in highway driving and 19 mpg in city driving. The estimated annual fuel cost is $2,300 and this vehicle uses about 4.8 gallons of gas per every 100 miles driven.

My overall impression of this Range Rover is, if I can afford all this luxury, I am definitely a buyer. Car and Driver magazine claimed the Range Rover HSE was guilty of “clumsy handling”.

While I understand, where they are coming from with that critique, I would counter by stating that the overall high roof and boxy design of this vehicle doesn’t make it ideal for rounding sharp curves at high rates of speed.

Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. Comments and questions are welcomed. To contact him, email peter@capitalmotorcars.com.