Used Vehicle Review: Land Rover Range Rover, 2002-2012

Vehicle Type

4x4

History/Description

If you’re wealthy-ish, you probably have a range. And if you have a range, you’ll need something to rove it with, and that’s just what the Range Rover, from Land Rover, is for.

The last generation of this big-dollar luxo-ute was capable, luxurious and packing world-class comfort features, the last-generation Land Rover Range Rover hit the road with standard V8 power, available supercharged V8 power, four-wheel drive, and a long list of goodies when it launched. Nowadays, thanks to the miracle of depreciation, you can find a used copy for a pretty sweet deal.

Over the years, a facelift freshened the Range Rover up, and a set of new engines switched the heart of one of the world’s foremost off-roaders from BMW to Ford power. Feature content was fancy, and included dual-zone climate control, a sunroof, navigation and plenty more. Air suspension, a CD changer and xenon lights were on board, too.

Few 4x4 models can match the classiness, pedigree and presence offered by this gentlemanly British sports ute.

Depending on the year and model in question, this posh-roader could be kitted up via numerous trim levels and option packages to suit a variety of tastes and budgets.

Few 4x4 models can match the classiness, pedigree and presence offered by this gentlemanly British sports ute. Driving one makes you look like a baller, sexier to the ladies, and lets nearby motorists that you know what’s up. Consider it alongside comparable high-capability flagship SUV models from Mercedes, Lexus and others, and consider it strongly if you’re after a high-luxury 4x4 with real off-road capability.

What Owners Like

Luxury, go-anywhere capability, exclusivity and a great deal of “presence” are noted by owners. Smooth performance and an ultra-posh cabin are also noted. All said, owners seem to have enjoyed a driving experience rich with luxury and capability. Many say they enjoy a feeling of safety and confidence while driving in adverse conditions, or on challenging terrain.

What Owners Dislike

As it goes with expensive premium models, most owners don’t report any complaints of their Range Rovers – though almost all wish for better gas mileage.

Here’s a list of owner reviews.

Common Issues

Bit of a mixed bag on this one. Many owners report minimal issues, if any at all, while others report a wide range of trouble. Below is a list of some helpful checks that should be considered mandatory on a test-drive of a potential new-to-you Range Rover.

Wiring. Sensors. Modules. The Range Rover (like all newer vehicles) is full of electronic stuff that can experience issues – so approach a used model looking for signs of trouble. Be sure all electrically-operated accessories function as expected, and check for any warning lights or messages in the instrument cluster or driver computer.

Be absolutely sure to schedule an inspection of any used Range Rover you’re considering at a Land Rover dealership – not a private shop. You’ll want to have the dealer pull up the service records on the vehicle you’re considering, checking for any outstanding recalls, recurring problems, or warranty repairs. The dealer will also be able to check the model to see if it’s up to date with important software updates, which control numerous systems. Due to the complex sensor network and computer system buried deep within the Range Rover, it’s not likely a private shop will have all of the necessary equipment to scan all of the machine’s various systems.

Have the air suspension checked out thoroughly by a Land Rover mechanic after you toggle it through its various settings to confirm it operates properly, and without any warning lights or messages illuminating. This expensive-to-repair system and has frustrated numerous owners when it acts up or fails to work. Even simple problems with a height sensor or the electronic module that controls the air suspension system can be a royal pain.

Start the Range Rover’s engine from dead cold, pop the hood, and listen for a loud, pulsating hissing or ticking sound, which is likely the result of an exhaust leak caused by a poor weld on the catalytic converter. Some owners say the sound is similar to that made by a helicopter. This issue seems to affect 2003 to 2005 units, and may qualify for extended warranty coverage by the manufacturer.

Scrutinize the brake system on your test drive, noting any abnormally long pedal travel, or poor or inconsistent brake system operation. The result could be a ruptured brake line, which resulted in a recall. This is a big safety problem, and if you notice it on a test drive, though unlikely, stop driving the vehicle immediately.

Be sure to toggle the 4x4 system between its various modes, several times, checking for signs of trouble along the way. Check the owner’s manual for proper shifting procedures, noting any unusual sounds or failure to shift into the selected mode.

Numerous Range Rover owners on forums say that buying from a dealer and bargaining for an extended warranty, if available, is a good idea. In any case, ensure the seller was fond of regular maintenance, including fluid changes, and be sure to get two working remote key fobs, too. A model with its full service records is ideal for added peace of mind.

Have the Land Rover technician inspect the unit you’re considering in the air for signs of rust, leaks, suspension problems and tire condition. While beneath the vehicle, a mechanic can help uncover any potentially-hidden issues that could cost money down the line.

While the unit is on a hoist, have the mechanic look for signs of a coolant leak down the rear of the engine, which could be the result of a damaged or worn out coolant hose. Higher mileage units should also have their full cooling systems inspected, including water pump, as well as the front differential, for signs of a leak. You’ll also want to have the mechanic check for signs of trouble caused by careless off-roading, perhaps including damage to the floorpan or frame rails. Finally, be absolutely sure to get a full system computer scan, which could indicate hidden issues, too.

Confirm proper operation of the air conditioner, all power windows, and the sunroof.

A grinding or groaning sound from the rear end during tight, low-speed corners could be a sign of a differential that’s wearing, or worn out. This issue was apparently recognized by Land Rover, with replacement units offered to affected owners. The updated rear differential was installed from the factory on models from 2006 and on.

The Verdict

If you’re considering a used Range Rover from this generation, remember that it’s not a vehicle bought primarily for simplicity, hardcore reliability, or affordable repair bills. If you’re after a cheap-to-run sport ute, this isn’t the model for you.

It is, however, the model for you if you’re willing to pay a premium on world-class levels of luxury, performance, capability and pedigree. Opting against a supercharged model will reduce your fuel bill slightly, and buying a unit privately is not advised. A model which qualifies for extended warranty coverage from a Certified Pre-Owned program at a Land Rover dealer is your best bet for peace of mind.

Crash Test Ratings: NA

A list of recalls.

If you’re wealthy-ish, you probably have a range. And if you have a range, you’ll need something to rove it with, and that’s just what... 4/16/2015 10:26:25 AM