There’s finally an electric Range Rover and of course, we wanted to see how electric the P400e PHEV really is. We also wanted to find out, did Land Rover bring its fun off-road heritage to this electrified variant?
At Electrek we usually try to limit our coverage of EVs to something that can do a daily commute on electric only. The average commute is about 30 miles round trip and Range Rover says that its Plug-in Hybrid Sport can do 31 all-electric miles on a charge. So here we are. But can you do a commute with this vehicle?
I was disappointed that when I got the car and fully charged it, the electric range read 25 miles. That’s the highest I would see it throughout my week of testing. 22 was the norm. Keep in mind, this was New York spring mid 70s weather.
But, even 20+ miles of electric range would be a great commuter SUV, especially if the commute was 10 miles or less or there was a plug at work to use. So long as the ICE engine wasn’t always kicking in. That’s where I have some bad news.
Range Rover Sport P400e PHEV
As you can see from the video, even the four-mile drive to the coffee shop, which I usually do on an ebike, kicked in the internal combustion engine. And while the first time it kicked in, I was trying to maintain 30 miles per hour on a significant uphill, the second time it kicked in was actually while braking, going down a shallow hill. Throughout the week, I found the ICE kicked in at various random times, even traversing my driveway. Frustrating.
When I first saw the Range Rover Sport P400e PHEV, I thought, “Hey, a lot of people can use this as their everyday commuter car on electric only. Then when they go on long trips or weekend getaways that require more range, the internal combustion engine kicks in.” That’s how the Chevy Volt (RIP) and BMW i3 REX work. Unfortunately, the Range Rover and a bunch of new Plug-in Hybrids coming out from premium brands that want to “electrify” their whole lineup aren’t really EVs. In fact, since the Prius Plug-in (which I’ve owned) and the Prius Prime (which I reviewed), I’ve seen a lot of automakers tout this as their electrification strategy. Toyota may be the worst at this.
In fact, this Range Rover surprisingly has a lot in common with the Prius Prime. Both have 25 miles of electric range due to the bolted on battery pack that is put in the trunk. Both add significant weight to the vehicle and take up a lot of trunk space. And both can’t be driven on regular roads without the ICE engine kicking in.
I’m beating a dead horse here, but let me get in one more wack.
I don’t think the US should be subsidizing cars that can’t be driven as EVs. I think PHEVs like the aforementioned Volt should be eligible for tax credits but cars like the Prius and this Range Rover shouldn’t be because they are almost impossible to drive on electric only. The batteries do increase their range and eliminate combustion use but you can’t use them without burning fuel. In the Range Rover’s case, a lot of fuel.
Fun to drive
OK, so now that we have my major gripes out of the way, I have to say this is a fantastic luxury SUV. Truth be told, this is the first Range Rover I’ve reviewed and first I’ve driven since my friend’s in college.
This thing has incredible acceleration on the road, as long as both the ICE and electric motors are working in concert. The 400HP combined gets this monster from 0-60 in just over 6 seconds. In electric only, the 141HP motor isn’t quite as quick moving this hulking beast. It tops out at 137mph which I’m sure is an experience.
There’s even more fun to be had when you take this off-road. If you haven’t gone off-road in luxury, it is something. The suspension makes huge ruts seem like potholes. Speed bumps on regular roads are almost unnoticeable. The suspension rises up quite a bit – maybe like 12 inches in off-road mode so there is plenty of clearance. Gravel roads feel like regular roads. It is something to experience.
I love all of the luxury appointments inside the Range Rover. This is kind of the antithesis to Tesla’s minimalism that I know a lot of drivers long for. Buttons everywhere, three different screens, two of them touch and just about every option you could imagine. I did have the screen go out on me once during testing but overall it seemed to work well including great Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.
I’m disappointed mostly in the missed opportunity here. After driving and genuinely loving the Jaguar I-PACE, I was ready for some exciting electric off-roading. Unfortunately, like many other PHEVs, this is a hack. A bolted on electric powertrain to an otherwise very nice SUV that happens to run an old fashioned ICE powertrain.
Land Rover should genuinely build a full all-electric vehicle with all of the torque of the I-PACE. It can demand the type of money and weight that a 150kWh battery would cost and could turn it into the fastest, smartest off-road vehicle on the market. Until then we’re looking longingly at Rivian (and Tesla’s Model X, above) who are ready to munch up Range Rover’s lunch.
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