The best Toyota Land Cruiser I ever drove? The V-8 diesel-powered 200 Series VX Sahara I took through crocodile-infested northern Australia 10 years ago. The Mercedes-Benz G-Class I truly lust after? It’s not the thundering G63 or even the mad G63 4×42. It’s the G400d, the one with Mercedes-Benz’s smooth 3.0-liter inline-six turbodiesel under the hood. And my favorite version of the 2023 Range Rover? If you’ve picked up on the theme here, you’ve already said it’s the diesel-powered D350. And you’re right.
Unfortunately, it’s a theme without a future. Tough new laws tightening emissions of particulates and NOx mean diesel engines for light-duty passenger vehicles—cars and SUVs—are on borrowed time.
In Europe, where in 2015 diesels accounted for 48 percent of sales, they are now forecast to total less than 10 percent in 2025 and barely 5 percent in 2027. And automakers have realized precious development dollars are better spent perfecting PHEV and BEV powertrains than finessing a dying engine technology, especially for a market like the U.S., which never really warmed to passenger vehicle diesels in the first place.
That’s why, like the Mercedes-Benz G400d—and the 300 Series LandCruiser, which is available in markets such as Australia with a new 3.3-liter V-6 turbodiesel—the Range Rover D350 will remain forbidden fruit for American consumers. And that’s a shame. The long-term emissions issues are real, but right here, right now, the D350 is arguably the best all-round powertrain for the big Rangie.
American Range Rover buyers have a reasonable choice when it comes to deciding what they want under the hood of their über-luxe off-roader. The entry-level engine is the P400, the 3.0-liter turbocharged Ingenium inline-six with 395 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. At the top end is the P530, its 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 sourced from BMW and tuned to deliver 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. In between, though subject to limited availability, is the P440e plug-in hybrid, which combines a lower-tune version of the P400 3.0-liter engine with a 140-hp electric motor and a 38.2-kWh battery to deliver 434 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque and a pure electric driving range of up to 62 miles.
But none arguably offers quite the same combination of performance, efficiency, and value as the D350 powertrain.
The D350 is the top-spec version of JLR’s 3.0-liter Ingenium inline-six turbodiesels, producing 345 hp at 4,000 rpm and 516 lb-ft of torque from 1,500 rpm to 3,000 rpm. (The lowest-output version and the entry-level engine in U.K.-market Land Rover Defenders is badged D250 and makes 245 hp and 420 lb-ft; the mid-spec engine, which powers the least expensive Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models available in Britain, is rated at 295 hp and 479 lb-ft.)
No, the D350 doesn’t have the horsepower of the P400 and P440e powertrains available in the U.S. But look at that torque number: It produces 27 percent more torque than the P400, 19 percent more than the P440e, and is only 37 lb-ft shy of the P530 V-8. Power is nice. Power is fun. But in a big, heavy SUV, torque is your best friend. And here’s where the torquey D350 puts the icing on the cake. It’s not the heaviest of these Range Rovers. Far from it, in fact.
According to Land Rover’s figures the D350 tips the scales at 5,357 pounds. That is—again, according to LR—117 pounds more than the P400 weighs. But it’s also 173 pounds lighter than the P530-powered Rangie, and it’s a massive 583 pounds lighter than the P440e. You can see what that means in the quoted performance numbers. Not unexpectedly, the 523-hp P530 will lunge away from the D350 at the traffic lights, but although it’s 45 hp down on the P400 and 84 hp down on the P440e, the diesel’s claimed 5.8-second 0-60-mph time is just three-tenths of a second slower than the six-cylinder gas-engine Rangie, and a tenth off the PHEV model.
You can see it at the gas pump, too. The EPA rates the P400 at 21 mpg combined and the P530 at 18 mpg. In Europe, on the slightly more generous WLTP test cycle, the D350 is rated at 31 mpg combined. (All weight, performance, and fuel consumption numbers refer to standard-wheelbase models). That WLTP number seems realistic: After 450 miles of 50-80-mph freeway cruising, 30-70-mph two-lane running, and noodling along narrow British country lanes, our test car averaged an impressive 26.6 mpg.
How does that compare with the P440e PHEV? Hard to say, given how much gas the PHEV Rangie’s internal combustion engine uses is very dependent on where you’ve been driving, how fast you’ve been driving, and how far you’ve driven.
Land Rover says the P440e’s 38.2-kWh battery (usable capacity is 31.8 kWh) means at least 75 percent of the daily journeys undertaken by current Range Rover owners can now be completed without the internal combustion engine firing up, which is brilliant. But on longer trips there’s no escaping the fact that the PHEV powertrain has nearly 6,000 pounds of Range Rover to contend with. Your actual mileage can vary wildly; it’s not hard to get a PHEV Rangie’s fuel consumption into the mid-teens when hustling it along a winding two-lane through hilly terrain.
And that’s the sort of road where you’ll also notice the D350 feels just that little more agile, that little more responsive to steering and acceleration inputs, than the heavier PHEV model. There’s a distant murmur from the Ingenium diesel as the eight-speed automatic transmission adroitly surfs the broad swell of torque, seamlessly shuffling the ratios to find the right balance between performance and efficiency. You can use the steering-wheel-mounted paddles to shift manually if you want, but there’s really no need, especially in Sport mode.
Winding two-lanes highlight the L460 series Range Rover’s dynamic strengths: The steering is lovely, accurate, and beautifully consistent, the car’s turn-in response sharpened by the rear-wheel steering system; the primary and secondary ride quality is truly sublime, and the roll motions are artfully controlled by the 48-volt anti-roll system; overall noise levels are limousine-like. It flows down the road, this Range Rover, shrinking around you. You must remind yourself you’re driving an SUV that doesn’t just look the part but is also a highly capable off-roader.
On the freeway it’s an effortless mile-muncher. At 80 mph in eighth gear, the Ingenium diesel is turning 1,800 rpm, just above the peak torque threshold. And because diesels love constant throttle, it’s operating at close to peak efficiency. Our experience suggests long runs on an interstate would see the D350 easily beating the WLTP’s 31-mpg combined number. That means a real-world cruising range of at least 645 miles. You’ll need to stop before the Range Rover does.
We’ve saved the best until last: The Range Rover D350 is cheaper than either the P400 or P440e models, let alone the P530. Based on British pricing, a D350 specified the same way as our test vehicle—options included the handsome Batumi Gold paint, 22-inch wheels, digital LED headlights, semi-aniline leather trim, heated and vented seats front and rear—would cost $117,025 in the U.S., versus $117,525 and $123,025, respectively, for similarly equipped P400 and P440e models. A P530 with the same options would cost $142,650.
Performance, efficiency, and value: Add it all up, and the D350 is the pick of the L460 Range Rovers.
Looks good! More details?
|2023 RANGE ROVER D350
|$117,025 (MT est)
|Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
|3.0L/345-hp/516-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC I-6
|L x W x H
|198.9 x 80.6 x 73.6 in
|5.8 sec (mfr)
|EPA FUEL ECON, CITY/HWY/COMB
|EPA RANGE (COMB)