The Range Rover is a premium large sport utility vehicle (SUV). It has been made by Land Rover since 1970 and is its flagship model. Indeed, the Range Rover is the most capable and well-appointed off-roader available anywhere, at any price.
The third generation model that ran from 2002-2010 is the most sensible used option.
There was a noticeable step up in quality in the 2002-2010 Range Rover. The 4.4-litre V8 and the supercharged 4.2-litre V8 both deliver muscular acceleration but aren’t economical at all. The best compromise is the 3.6-litre TDV8 diesel, which came into play in 2006.
This delivers reasonable fuel economy for such a heavy vehicle and gives spicy performance. What's more, it’s only marginally slower than the petrol V8s and comes with a slick six-speed auto gearbox.
Alas, no Range Rover is cheap to run but the TDV8 is one of the best, managing 25mpg. High emissions make it costly to tax, though. Servicing isn't bargain-basement either, although insurance is reasonable. Just make sure you steer well away from the V8 Supercharged – it has a voracious appetite for petrol.
Ride and handling
The Range Rover has a hi-tech chassis, which not only gives awesome performance off-road, but also a stable and alert cornering capability. The ride is sublime, equal to that of limousines.
From 2005 onwards Range Rovers come with Terrain Response, a state-of-the-art off-road system, which is activated by a dial on the centre console. It delivers the best driving set-up for different conditions.
There is a general driving setting for on-road, as well as settings for grass, gravel and snow, along with a tough mode for mud and furrows. Reworked models from 2009 are even more impressive with upgrades that make the Range Rover more talented off-road, including sand launch control, which prevents wheels burrowing down in fine sand.
Despite its generously proportioned size, the Range Rover from this generation didn't accomplish the maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests. Instead it was given four stars because the safety body felt there were hazards to front occupants’ knees from solid points behind the facia.
On the positive side, the Range Rover has a tough body with eight airbags as well as electronic safety aids which support the car’s all-wheel grip.
The Range Rover has a massive boot, while the split tailgate makes loading and unloading larger items easy. The boot itself is wide and deep - ideal for loads of luggage, baby gear or copious shopping bags.
The rear seats split and fold down for lengthier items and the maximum carrying capacity is over 2,000 litres. Inside the cabin, the Range Rover is sumptuous with space for at least five adults. Thanks to the vast expanse of glass it feels very open, too.
Top models get thick pile carpets which add to the upmarket feel. The seats are spectacularly comfortable and supportive, which becomes clear on longer trips. Improved models from mid-2009 have even higher value materials inside adding to the lavish feel.
What to know before you buy
Although there is little doubt that the Range Rover from this era is an off road king, you'll need to ensure that the previous owner hasn't been a little over-enthusiastic.
Damage to the alloy wheels and exhaust through over the top off-roading can be pricey to put right and bodywork grazes can be expensive to repair. Inspect the headlamps for stone chips, too, as these are costly to mend.
All that said, the engines have proved shining examples of reliability and Land Rover dealers have a reputation for being helpful.
The Porsche Cayenne is worth looking at because it has got the Porsche name and has handling and performance of a car. It’s also very spacious. That said, if you’re buying it to use off road too, it’s not as proficient as the Range Rover and, looks-wise, it isn’t quite as attractive.
Motors such as the Volvo XC90 and Volkswagen Touareg are competitors, but the BMW X5 is the Range Rover’s nemesis. Although the Land Rover is the real deal off-road, the German SUV is just as good, if not slightly more competent on road. It also has a hugely desirable image.
The Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is also a car to consider if a Range Rover is on your shopping list. Made from 2006 through to 2012, you will see that the GL-Class has a vast cabin, and is incredibly comfortable. It’s also really practical for a large family because it will seat seven and has splendid build quality.
With the seats folded, its load bay is actually bigger than the Range Rover’s, but unfortunately its gargantuan dimensions make parking difficult. It also has high running costs due to its thirsty range of engines and doesn’t do off-roading nearly as well as a Range Rover does.
If you want the finest you'll need to shell out for it, but despite its thirst for fuel, the Range Rover actually works out pretty good value for money.
Secondhand models still looks modern and will still give you a real feeling of authority behind the wheel.