Land Rover has launched hybrid versions of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport SUVs, which go on sale in early 2014. The pair of hybrids is said to have the same off-road prowess and on-road performance as non-hybrid Range Rovers, but with 26 percent fewer carbon-dioxide emissions.

Both the Land Rover Range Rover and Range Rover Sport hybrids combine a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 and a 35-kW electric motor, for maximum output of 335 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. The hybrids can drive for about a mile at up to 30 mph on electric power alone, or alternatively can rush to 60 mph in under seven seconds -- the Land Rover Range Rover hybrid will hit the Land Rover Range Rover Hybrid rear 300x199 imagebenchmark in a claimed 6.9 seconds, while the Range Rover Sport hybrid manages it in 6.7 seconds. Both are electronically limited to 135 mph. An eight-speed automatic transmission directs power to the all-wheel-drive system.

The new Land Rover Range Rover was designed with a hybrid model in mind from the outset, so the new versions still have full-size spare tires and don't sacrifice any interior or luggage room. The lithium-ion battery pack is contained beneath the floor in a boron-steel cage intended to protect it from damage. The entire hybrid system, including the motor, electronics, and battery, weighs only 265 pounds.

The most important figure is 44.1 mpg, equal to 36.7 mpg U.S. and a significant improvement over the standard Range Rover and Range Rover Sports' fuel economy figures. Nonetheless, both hybrids have the same off-road abilities and the same water-fording depth ratings as the non-hybrids. To demonstrate those abilities, the company is sending three Range Rover hybrids on a 10,000-mile trip from Range Rover's headquarters in Solihull, England, to the headquarters of parent company Tata Motors in India. The trip encompasses stops in France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, and India, and should be completed by October 15.

There are currently no plans to sell either of the Land Rover Range Rover hybrids in the U.S., as the company previously told us it would be too expensive to modify the diesel engine to meet American emissions rules. Land Rover will begin taking orders for the hybrids in the U.K. next month, with the first deliveries set for early next year.

Source: Land Rover