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The 2018 Range Rover Sport SVR on display at an exclusive customer preview which introduced three new vehicles from Jaguar Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations Division on November 28, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
The 2018 Range Rover Sport SVR on display at an exclusive customer preview which introduced three new vehicles from Jaguar Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations Division on November 28, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Jaguar Land Rove)

For a change of pace this week, I thought I’d give you a mechanic’s view of a new vehicle.

I was fortunate this past week to get a chance to drive the 2019 Range Rover Sport HSE P400e Plug-in Hybrid under a variety of on-road conditions. This was my first time exploring a 5400 pound sport utility hybrid.

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As one might expect this is one very luxurious and full featured vehicle with impeccable driving modes and capabilities. The 2.0L turbocharged four cylinder engine teams up with an electric motor to deliver 398 horsepower and 472 lb-ft torque, providing excellent acceleration, but a bit of buzzy commotion when pushed. My 240V EVSE (charging station) was out of reach due to a boat being prepped for crab season, so I refilled the hybrid battery each evening using the supplied 120V charger from a porch outlet requiring 14 hours to fill— ugh!

The best I could coax from the plug-in hybrid system was 19 miles of pure electric propulsion, and with rainy weather I found that after a few days plugging in just wasn’t worth the trouble. Even with 0% available battery displayed, the powertrain still delivered superb acceleration (a likely half of battery capacity is held in reserve for short bursts of juice and to prolong battery life).

After consulting Land Rover’s website and “building” a Range Rover in a variety of ways, I believe I would prefer either the 3.0L gas or 3.0L diesel six-cylinder engine choices (355HP, 365lb-ft or 254HP, 443lb-ft) for the much less complicated powertrain, additional smoothness and a savings of about $10,000! Fuel consumption for the larger non-hybrid engines is a bit higher, but if one is shelling out 93 grand for such a sweet vehicle, I’d take the smoothness over the mileage!

I enjoyed the heads-up display, three large instrument panel screens, soft close doors, amazing/huge panoramic glass roof, refrigerated console compartment, heated and cooled seats, and the air suspension system squatting slightly for entrance/egress, among other features.

While parked, I fiddled with every imaginable menu selection, and gently explored the Terrain Response System, which can tame adverse off road conditions in impressive ways.

I wasn’t a fan of the Stop/Start system (clumsy/jerky for a luxury vehicle), Auto High Beam Assist (erratic to switch back to high on even very dark roads), Lane Keep Assist (which was like having a constant battle with a sugar-high 6-year old driver in your lap), or the modest quantity of detailed hybrid and driver assistance information on any of the three displays. The Lane Keep Assist was highly effective scolding me when I’d loosen my grip on the steering wheel but wasn’t very communicative when it decided to give up steering assist at an inopportune time!

I pored over the very thick owner’s manual attempting to learn more about the huge trove of features, but frequently came away with more questions than answers. Perhaps an all day class is needed for one to learn the ins and outs of so much technology, or at perhaps tutorials displayed on those heavenly screens?

All in all, the P400e is a magnificent vehicle, and it would be a favorite with my wife if it had six cylinders beneath the hood! I’m only a fan of complication if it yields a significant benefit!

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