Range Rover’s first-ever hybrid SUV will arrive this summer, a harbinger of a “sustainable luxury” movement that will see Bentley and Porsche introduce their own plug-in hybrids models.
The 2019 Land Rover Range Rover P400e, which benefits from the instant torque of its electric motor while losing none of the character expected from a rough-and-tumble Rover, runs on a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and a 114-hp electric motor for a total output of 398 horsepower. That’s more power than the Range Rover’s base model ekes from its 340-horsepower supercharged V6.
We tested the hybrid’s 31-mile electric range on the pastoral roads of the English Cotswolds, near Jaguar Land Rover headquarters, and on an off-road course on the grounds of Blenheim Palace for a day driving across rain-soaked fields, muddy pits, loose rocks and a submerged bridge on a lake. (Like all Range Rovers, the hybrid can wade through nearly three feet of water.) It performed most of these tasks while in EV mode, silently drawing power from its battery, not the engine.
Land Rover is not the only luxury SUV-maker to add a plug-in hybrid to the lineup. Early next year, Bentley and Porsche are expected to launch plug-in versions of the Bentayga and Cayenne SUVs. As a step toward fully electric vehicles, interest in plug-in hybrids is expected to grow gradually, according to Karl Brauer, executive publisher for Kelley Blue Book and AutoTrader.
“We’re seeing more plug-in hybrids every year as consumers learn the benefits of having EV-only for short runs but an internal combustion back-up for longer trips,” Brauer said. “It lets them feel very earth-friendly during around-town errands without any range anxiety if they suddenly have to drive further. For luxury SUV buyers, who are less price sensitive, it’s an effective system that gives them the best of both worlds.”
The P400e is the first hybrid to launch under Jaguar Land Rover’s initiative to offer an electrified powertrain option for every model in its lineup starting 2020. (But it’s not shying from powerful gasoline engines. The latest high-performance SVR variant increases output to 575 horsepower using a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine and zips from standstill to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds.)
Though noticeably quieter, the P400e was barely distinguishable from a typical Range Rover during our test drive. Inside are all of the usual accoutrements: a wide, padded leather armrest, dual touchscreens, Wi-Fi connectivity for eight devices, and a spacious, five-passenger cabin trimmed in leather, wood and metal fit for the palace.