2018 Range Rover HSE Td6 first drive review: Tech overhaul, not tech overload

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The Range Rover has set a high bar for luxury SUVs. It was one of the first of its kind and few can compete with its ability to go anywhere, any time, in any weather in a leather-lined interior.

Introduced for the 2013 model year, the current Range Rover has aged with grace, but it is aging as new competition arrives in the form of Bentayga and Cullinan.

For 2018, Land Rover has given the Range Rover a tech overhaul with a handful of screens inside the cabin, a few updates on the exterior, and more luxury options than ever before. I spent a long weekend with the updated luxury liner to see if those changes spoiled the serene mood—if they were more tech overload than tech overhaul.

ALSO SEE: 2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan first drive review: Tetonic shift

The Range Rover has elegant, even minimalist style, compared to the Bentley and Rolls SUVs, but it’s a look that has needed almost no updates. For 2018, the front fascia has been smoothed out and features new LED headlights. Like the Porsche 911, its design language has evolved over time, but the Range Rover still can be instantly recognized around the globe. Its squared body, rounded corners and upright traditional SUV stance have a timeless air. It’s far from flashy, but it has understated presence and class few vehicles can match.

2018 Land Rover Range Rover

2018 Land Rover Range Rover

Inside the Range Rover is where most of the upgrades took place for 2018. Fire it up inside a dark parking garage, and the glow of 32 inches of digital displays can be overwhelming.

The 12-inch digital gauge cluster was familiar enough. It does have odd touch-sensitive and clickable steering wheel buttons to control it but they’re not hard to figure out.

For true confusion, just look down at the twin 10-inch touchscreens mounted on the center of the dashboard. They control nearly every function in the Range Rover, and can be very confusing to navigate quickly without any previous exposure. It took about a day to become familiar with the setup, but making changes on the fly while driving down a highway never became easier.

READ: 2019 Mercedes-Benz G550 and AMG G63 first drive review: flying bricks and off-road tricks

2018 Land Rover Range Rover

2018 Land Rover Range Rover

The Td6 badge means a turbodiesel 3.0-liter inline-6 with 254 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque sits under hood; it sends power to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. Push the start button and the turbodiesel clatters to life with far more noise, and less bark, than one expects from a Range Rover. It’s like a silky-smooth pickup truck for the well-heeled individual without the associated vibrations in the steering wheel.

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