by Belinda Anderson
In keeping with the growing move towards green cars, Land Rover brought us the Range Rover PHEV as part of its first assault on gas-powered cars. Although this didn't stop the carmaker from producing straight-six and V8 gas-guzzlers, the Range Rover Hybrid comes to the fray with a potent hybridized heart that makes 398 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque. It retains the gorgeous sense of opulence characteristic of the Range Rover lineup, but allows for some all-electric driving, which should be perfect if you've only got around 19 miles to cover daily. Packed with comprehensive safety features, and spreading oodles of luxury over the two-model range, this is one SUV you should have on your shortlist, although the pricing may cause you to hesitate.
2020 sees minor changes to the Range Rover Hybrid, with the addition of the Autobiography as a trim level being a significant alteration. Two new paint colors are available, namely Eiger Grey and Portofino Blue which replace Corris Grey and Loire Blue on the list. 22-inch wheels in Gloss Black are also available for 2020. The suite of advanced driver aids has also been updated, with Adaptive Cruise control featuring Stop & Go and steering assist, as well as high-speed emergency braking.
In terms of changes for 2020, the Range Rover Hybrid doesn't have much that's new to showcase, other than two new exterior color options, and optional 22-inch wheels. It retains the same classic Range Rover looks of 2019, with 20-inch 12-spoke wheels on the base model and 21-inch items filling the arches of the Autobiography trim. Both are fitted with premium LED headlights and sport signature daytime running lights, a sliding panoramic roof, and trim-specific treadplates. An Atlas grille with mesh foil and Narvik Black fame is standard on the lower model, with the top-end version adding front bumper accents and vent finishers, as well as front fog lights.
For the most part, the Range Rover PHEV shares dimensions with its gas-guzzling siblings, with the range having an overall length of 196.9 inches, and a width of 81.6 excluding the side mirrors. The Range Rover stands 73.6-inches tall, although this increases to 76.5 inches when in off-road mode. The wheelbase is 115 inches long, around 2.5 inches shorter than that of the Volvo XC90. At 5,515 pounds, the PHEV Range Rover is around 500-odd lbs heavier than the gas-only variants, although the V8-powered and long-wheelbase models are closer in curb weight, with the latter tipping the scales at 5,725 lbs.
With a long history of off-roading prowess, Range Rover did not skimp on the Hybrid's abilities either, allocating it the same 8.7-inch ground clearance as the gas models, and approach and departure angles of 25.5 and 24.5 degrees, respectively. Breakover angle is 21.5 degrees, and regardless of all the electronic gadgetry beneath the metal, the Hybrid can wade into water 35.4 inches in depth.
Plug-in hybrid cars are generally blessed with a bump up in power and torque over the standard models, and such is the case with the Range Rover Hybrid. Given the allocation P400e, the Hybrid makes use of a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four, paired to an electric motor making 141 horsepower, and a 13.1-kWh battery. The total output from this setup is 398 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque, besting figures from the 3.0-liter six-cylinder gas models. A ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic shifts for you, and with permanent all-wheel-drive, the hybridized Range Rover offers energetic and potent performance.
Although this setup offers ample torque at take-off, there's some vocal protest from the engine if you floor the accelerator; still, it's enough to get the hulking SUV to 60 mph in the 6.4-second range, which is better than the base gas engine by a fraction, but not as quick as the mild-hybrid system on the less bulky inline-six, and 1.3 seconds slower than the V8 version. With two modes available, the PHEV can cruise on in parallel hybrid mode, which allows for switching between gas and electric power as needed to maximize fuel efficiency and battery charge, or in pure electric mode where the battery ostensibly propels the car forward for 19 miles at speeds up to 85 mph. While all of this sounds quite good, the Hybrid does take a knock in terms of towing capacity: hitch a maximum of 5,511 lbs to the back of the PHEV and you'll be fine, but if you want to tow upwards of 7,700 lbs, you'll have to opt for a gas-fed Range Rover instead.
Fitted with electronic air suspension, the PHEV benefits from the legendary slick and smooth drive expected from the brand; all the expected gadgets are on board to keep the Range Rover Hybrid rolling smoothly over the tarmac, managing bumps and shakes with confidence and isolating the cabin from too much noise. Also equipped with a two-speed transfer case, the PHEV can manage high and low gear ranges for pulling the horsebox through the mud, ice, or snow, while the Autobiography trim also gets an active rear locking differential. In fact, with Terrain Response 2 equipped to all trims, the driver can confidently flip through any one of seven settings to adapt the engine, gearbox and chassis responses appropriately. This includes settings for grass, gravel, snow, mud and ruts, sand, and even rock crawl, in addition to the comfort, eco and dynamic modes. The bonus on the PHEV models is that this system can also automatically pick the most appropriate setting, leaving you free to concentrate on not jostling your royal passengers too much.
Back on the city streets, the PHEV handles as all Range Rovers should, with good manners, direct steering, and surprising agility. Taking a corner at speed will still give you some body roll courtesy of its portly weight, but it's not unexpected for the segment.
Opting for a Hybrid vehicle is supposed to have the benefit of greatly reducing your fuel costs, and while that may be true for many Plug-Ins, it's only partly true for the Range Rover PHEV. Used in parallel hybrid mode (meaning combination electric power and gas), the Range Rover PHEV will manage an EPA estimate of 42 MPGe. Using gas, it does significantly worse than non-hybrid Range Rovers, with a combined figure of 19 mpg to the 24 mpg of the six-cylinder. Still, claims of a 19-mile EV range may tempt buyers who don't have long commutes, although real-world reports indicate this is an optimistic range, at best, but it more realistically reflects EPA results than last year's highly optimistic 29-mile range. Still, with a 24-gallon gas tank, the PHEV could theoretically give you 480 miles combined, according to the EPA. Additionally, recharging the battery takes around 14 hours from a standard wall plug, while a Level 2 charger will reduce the time to under three hours.
With space for five, the hybrid SUV has the top-end of the Range Rover trimmings in both models, including 20-way heated front seats with power recline, as well as heated rear seats. The base HSE gets perforated Windsor leather, while the top-end Autobiography is equipped with perforated semi-aniline leather seats that get four additional ways of adjustment, and ventilation in the front. There is ample space for even the taller passengers, with lots of headroom and legroom, although seating three across in the back will undoubtedly be a tight squeeze - the rear seat is best used to seat two with the armrest folded down for comfort or opting for the Executive Class rear seats on the Autobiography, which switches out the rear bench for a two-seater setup with a posh, wood-accented armrest.
With 25 cubic feet available for storage behind the back row, the Range Rover Hybrid offers a bit more than some larger seven-seaters, like the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7. But, it's around five cubes more than what the smaller Range Rover Evoque offers. With the rear seats all folded flat, there's 59.8 cubic feet available for loading with luggage, boxes, or the pack of hounds. If opting for the Executive Class rear setup, these figures drop to 18.8 and 56.9 cubic feet respectively.
Smaller items are catered for in the available passenger-side glovebox, and there are front and rear cupholders for your morning brew. The center console boasts storage underneath the armrest, and there are slim door pockets on each door.
For both available plug-in hybrid models, the features list is extensive. Starting with the sliding panoramic sunroof, soft close doors, leather seating, and upwards of 20 ways of adjustment on the front seats, there's also a heated steering wheel, three-zone climate control (which is upgraded to four-zone in the Autobiography), a power gesture tailgate, and keyless entry. In terms of safety features and advanced driver aids, the Range Rover Hybrid comes with emergency braking, cruise control, a blind-spot monitor, rearview camera, drowsy driver alert, lane keeping assist, and a surround-view camera. As though the list wasn't long enough, Land Rover added traffic sign recognition, adaptive speed limiter, and cruise control to the base models, while supplementing this setup with a clear exit monitor, park assist, high-speed emergency braking, and a head-up display to the top Autobiography trim.
Two ten-inch Touch Pro displays are used in the Range Rover for infotainment, paired to a 19-speaker Meridian surround sound system. The setup also incorporates navigation, Wi-Fi, voice control, Bluetooth, and SiriusXM - and, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto made standard as of 2019, this is also included for the 2020 model year. The Autobiography trim gets a slight upgrade in sound system, with the Meridian Signature Surround Sound system added for the top-spec car, which includes a whopping 29 speakers, including a dual-channel subwoofer. A rear-seat CD/DVD player combination can be optioned on for around $2,375 too, which adds two ten-inch displays to the back of the front-seat headrests.
No recalls affecting the Range Rover Hybrid were issued for the 2020, and there were no hybrid-related recalls for 2019, either. J.D.Power allocated 72 out of 100 to the Range Rover lineup for 2020, which is a little less than ideal.
To help allay any fears, Land Rover covers the Range Rover with a new vehicle limited warranty for four years/50,000 miles, inclusive of drivetrain cover. Hybrid components are covered for eight years, too.
Although there are no safety ratings available from the NHTSA or the IIHS on which to base an assessment of safety, the Range Rover PHEV comes extensively outfitted with safety features. Passive measures include six airbags (dual front, front side, and side curtain), stability control, and hill descent. Additional active driver's aids are plentiful, with lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition, adaptive speed limiter, a driver alertness monitor, and a 360-degree parking aid standard on the base HSE. There's also a rear cross-traffic alert, cruise control, and emergency braking, and, on the top-end Autobiography, adaptive cruise control with steering assist, high-speed emergency braking, and a surround-view camera are added.
There are so many reasons to make a global shift towards hybridization, and with Land Rover's PHEV offerings proving that you don't need to skimp on power, off-roading capabilities, and general performance, there's very few things to say to deter us from recommending the Range Rover Hybrid. That is, if you can stomach the hefty price tag. The Range Rover Hybrid is by no means cheap, least of all in the top-spec Autobiography trim - but, there's also a reason why the Queen favors the brand and herself owns a Range Rover (albeit an older, non-hybridized version). The sense of luxury, pomp, and occasion is ever-present inside a Range Rover, with beautiful craftsmanship evident throughout. It also has sufficient towing prowess to get the ponies out when needed and tackle any terrain you throw at it. Its hybrid benefits may not be overwhelming, but the Range Rover Hybrid is still good at what it does. If you have money to burn, then why not, but we really can't quite see the point over a regular Range Rover.
Pricing for the 2020 Range Rover Hybrid varies largely between the two available models, with the entry-spec HSE priced at $95,950 and the top-end Autobiography costing $130,300. Comparatively, the more powerful gas-fed inline-six costs $96,150, but you could get a base engine for under $91k. These prices are excluding a destination fee of $1,295 and are almost double the entry-level price of a Volvo XC90. If this hurts your pocket too much, consider the Land Rover Range Rover Sport Hybrid, with a somewhat more palatable price range of $79,000 to $88,990 MSRP.
For 2019 it was a great deal easier to suggest which model to purchase, because there was only one to choose from. But the latest model year offers two choices: the HSE, which in the non-hybrid range features as a mid-range model, or the Autobiography, which is seen as the fully-loaded trim across all powertrain options. There's a price difference of almost $35k between the two, so this is something to consider carefully. The base HSE is the most sensible option, not just for its price tag - it comes with all the bells and whistles in terms of leather seating with heating, a Meridian sound system with 19 speakers, traffic sign recognition, blind-spot monitor, cruise control, and a 360-degree parking aid. You could add a whole bunch of useful and premium packages to the base HSE and still come out under $110k, which is why we wouldn't look any higher.
Following on from the Range Rover Hybrid's lineup, the British manufacturer also offers the Range Rover Sport in a plug-in hybrid model, and it's also available in HSE and Autobiography trims. Major differences between the two siblings are not limited to the stark variation in price range, with the Sport Hybrid costing between $79,000 and $88,990 - much cheaper than even the base Range Rover Hybrid. The Range Rover Sport is also markedly smaller, with leaner dimensions, curb weights, and - as a result - interior space and cargo volume. You could still manage four passengers in relative comfort in the Range Rover Sport, but you'd be much more comfortable in the bigger Range Rover Hybrid. Gas mileage is pretty much on par for these two, but with it's lighter curb weight, the Range Rover Sport Hybrid offers quicker acceleration on paper, which in the real world is almost negligible; still, there's more punch from the engine overall. There's much of the same here, it's just scaled - buyers who want bigger and more luxurious should opt for the Range Rover Hybrid. Those wanting to spend less, but still have the Land Rover badge and a plug-in, should consider the Range Rover Sport Hybrid.
Still keeping the comparisons in the family, Range Rover also offers the Evoque as an alternative to the Range Rover. While not a hybrid, the Evoque range comes to the party with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that can produce either 237 or 286 hp, depending on how you option your car. But the Evoque has a very different persona altogether. Where the Range Rover Hybrid exudes courtly charm, luxury, and a smooth, compliant ride, the Evoque is all teenage excitement and brimming with cheeky levels of energy. It feels much more like a sporty ride, with a nimbleness and agility to it that the Range Rover Hybrid doesn't quite manage. It's also got the cute look to go with it. So, even though they come from the same family, these two are worlds apart. Which one you choose will depend on what your needs are, or at the very least, what you want - do you want refined luxury and greener motors? Or do you want to look cool, be noticed, and have a bit of fun? Then you know which one to choose.
Check out some informative Land Rover Range Rover Hybrid video reviews below.