Most carmakers selling $95k-plus vehicles swaddled in more than a cow’s-worth of leather aren’t sweating over eco bona fides. But after we recently drove the new-for-2019 Range Rover Sport P400e through mud bogs and across cratered tarmac in the English countryside, we’ve seen the light on why a hybrid luxury SUV is a sane product in a segment that’s gone bonkers for horsepower. The gist: You rarely need V-8 muscle and 170mph top speeds. But you’re daily caught in traffic snarls where driving in pure-EV mode is totally reasonable, and this Range Rover ups the ante while also being able to roll for miles of off-roading on electric power alone. Here, five reasons why we think it’s both awesome, and a rig the off-road (and on-road) Range Rover fan should want.
It Can Climb Mountains Made of Mud
With nearly 12 inches of ground clearance, this hybrid has the same Terrain Response system as every other Range Rover Sport, and of course, four-wheel drive, too. It can do all its off-roading in electric-only mode, which offers two big advantages: You’ve got instant torque, meaning greater control, since just softly rolling into the throttle gets you moving and keeps you moving. And there’s zero engine noise. A spotter outside the vehicle can talk to you from a distance and point out obstacles in a normal tone of voice, and as we found testing in the mud, you can roll with the windows down because at least on non-dusty byways, there’s no exhaust to keep out.
A More Fluid Powertrain
This Range Rover’s EV “range” comes in at 31 miles of electric juice before the batteries are sapped. The brand included a “save” mode so you could preserve the battery packs for the last few miles of trailhead, or for stop-and-go daily grinds to and from the office. It’s also made the best choices about when the 296hp 2.0-liter and the 100hp electric motor are best put toward motivation. The result: You really don’t notice one drivetrain or another swapping duties. And while the 2.0-liter engine is no V-8, it sounds muscular enough, where a lot of hybrid system’s gas engines drone coarsely. And with 472 lb-ft of torque, the P400e is still plenty quick, since that’s more than you find from Range Rover’s Supercharged V-8.
Bristling With Luxe
Land Rover and Jaguar are a single company. That’s important to understand as Jaguar is about to debut the electric-only I-Pace crossover just as the P400e drops. So the P400e not only has to be capable off-road, it has to feel like a Range Rover inside, and the brand clearly has that in mind with options on this rig. They include dual touchscreens, a center-armrest fridge big enough to hold a fistful of soda cans, leather everywhere, chunky wood trim accents, comfortable 24-way adjustable front seats, and enough metal knurling on every knob, switch, and dial to make the average Breitling watch owner coo with glee.
This is a big vehicle, one we expect a lot of families would want, too. So it’s good to know it comes with loads of room for five passengers, as well as with wall plug-style power points to charge laptops, HDMI input to run hi-def video on the optional rear displays, as well as WiFi access for up to eight devices. In total, there are 17 ways to access juice or network with the P400e. There’s also an optional gesture control to close or open the massive panorama shade that slides to expose all five seats to sunlight. That extra wide expanse of glass was welcome for rear-seaters during testing—in fact, sitting in the second row may even be preferable.
The Ride You Want
The P400e corners decently well, stops on a dime thanks to the excellent brakes, and offers an exceptionally comfortable ride. Tall SUVs forced to handle like sports cars? They’re not a lot of fun when you don’t also own a race track. So we think the P400e is a far preferable daily driver, because it’s damped to ride smoothly no matter where you roll. And, yes, in the English countryside we found lots of potholes. But the P400e rolled on as if they weren’t there at all.