As a manufacturer and as a brand, Land Rover has come a very long way since its inception. It’s gone from being the maker of utilitarian work vehicles to one of the world’s most desirable luxury marques. The models the company has made over the years cover a lot of ground, so what are the pros and cons of owning a Land Rover?
Land Rover has a special place in history, starting as an off-road capable box-section ladder-frame chassis vehicle and turning into a standalone brand in the modern automotive industry. Land Rover is recognized for its four-wheel drive, off-road vehicles, which have built a reputation over time for being outstanding off-roaders, ones that can handle almost everything thrown at them.
And if you are wondering, it is not just another brand like Toyota or Jeep that specialize in building off-road vehicles. There is so much more to it than people know.
Having come a long way since its inception, today’s Land Rover promises unmatched off-road prowess, luxury, and performance that exceeds its rivals. But like everything else, Land Rover comes with some trade-offs that should be considered before buying one.
Those downsides aside, owning a Land Rover has its own perks, and in the right hands, it will shine at what it is supposed to do. But getting back to the question, what are the pros and cons of owning a Land Rover? Before answering this question, let’s see what history tells us.
The Chronicles of Land Rover
Land Rover is a globally respected brand, and it is well-deserved. You will still find old, archaic Land Rovers serving their users half a century after they were built. Their dependability, functionality, and capability made them famous, to say the least. Land Rovers are so good at their job that Land Rover has produced a number of models for the UK Ministry of Defense, and if that’s not convincing enough, Land Rovers have and are being used in wars around the world.
The first Land Rover wasn’t anything like the modern, opulent car we know today when it was unveiled in 1969. The prototype vehicle, originally slated to be called the Road Rover, didn’t even remotely resemble an SUV. It was a bare-bones engine with wheels that allowed it to traverse terrain no other vehicle could handle (except for quite similar Jeeps and Toyotas). Time proved that there was no doubt about its capability as an off-roader.
Since then, every Land Rover has become synonymous with go-anywhere capability, and it has further been injected with luxury and performance that modern times demand. Land Rover has committed to producing high-end, luxury SUVs that you would not be afraid to take off the road.
However, a few years ago, Land Rover did the almost unthinkable by producing its first-ever models that were two-wheel-drive.
The pros of owning a Land Rover
1. Off-road capability
Every Land Rover has off-roading in its DNA. No matter which model in which trim you buy, you will get an SUV that can handle off-road right out of the box. It has all the hardware and software to make it more capable than any of its rivals. Although they’re not in the same league as 4X4 variants, even the two-wheel drive models have a decent level of off-road prowess.
A Land Rover can be driven almost anywhere, including slick surfaces like snow and ice, as well as muddy plains, sandy beaches, and dunes. The Land Rover has the stability and grace to ascend hills and descend with ease. This brand has real strength. Off-roading is certainly at the core of Land Rover.
Modern models are just as capable, if not more so, due to technological advancements since the brand’s founding more than 70 years ago, even though they may appear a touch less rugged and focus more on elegance and luxury.
Due to its all-wheel drive, high ground clearance, and improved suspension system, the Range Rover offers great off-road and on-road performance. A dual-speed transfer box, an electronically controlled center differential, and adaptive dynamics all contribute to this vehicle’s imperious capability.
The Terrain Response System in Land Rover greatly facilitates navigating challenging terrain. The Range Rover is the only vehicle in its class that can traverse water up to 35.4 inches deep. Land Rover has managed to take full advantage of modern technology, helping it to stay true to its roots.
It is quite evident that Land Rover is best renowned for creating vehicles with unmatched all-around qualities, from a classy and sophisticated business SUV to a cozy, roomy, and dependable family automobile. Passengers are accommodated comfortably, and the ride is pleasant and comfortable no matter where you are driving.
The Defenders and Discoveries are praised for their incredible utility and off-road capability. They can easily handle the towing and stowing needs of most people. While the Range Rover is the pinnacle of sophistication, it still has Land Rover’s usual capacity space for all your pets, your weekly grocery run, the kids’ belongings, your horses’ tack, and so much more.
All Land Rovers also boast impressive towing numbers to Rovers to accommodate your towing needs. If you think a ladder-frame, truck-based SUV is the first and last word when it comes to towing, Land Rover challenges you to think again.
3. Making a statement and an impression
Land Rover has earned the status of a statement vehicle, whether it is for style, capability, luxury, or performance. Speaking of style, the Land Rover and Range Rover models have a lot to offer in terms of the superiority and elegance you experience while driving one of them along the road.
Land Rovers are in a class of their own when it comes to style. Even the older models oozed style, albeit of a different kind; they perfectly summed up functional style while never compromising on ability. As the make expanded and attracted a new audience, design and technology advanced exponentially.
The Range Rover has a stylish and tough external design. Its retro, boxy design is reminiscent of military automobiles of the past. This rugged, off-road-capable vehicle fits its tough appearance. It also strangely harmonizes with the opulent, sophisticated environment. The Range Rover strikes the perfect blend between luxurious comfort and outstanding capability. Wherever you take this SUV, it will look excellent and feel at home.
It’s something of a surreal experience when you are being driven around the jungle track at the company’s headquarters in Gaydon in the UK in a Range Rover. On the outside, the vehicle is almost up to its windows in mud and water.
On the inside, you’re sitting in seats made using the finest leather while your feet are cushioned on exquisite carpets, at the same time as your ears are being massaged by the sounds coming from a world-class sound system.
The Land Rover interior is adorned with premium materials. Real wood trim, diamond quilted leathers, and plush carpets are all there. Here, the design is sleek and contemporary, and it is simply stunning by any measure. The interiors of upscale models have exceptional construction, fit, and finish. The seats are supple, supportive, and comfortable. Even the infotainment system and gauge cluster were created and organized with the appearance in mind.
4. Latest Tech
Every Land Rover makes use of the latest technology to complement its capability and functionality. Rock crawling, hill climbing, clearing curbs, and wading through water have never been this easy and effortless.
I remember when Land Rover introduced its Terrain Response system and Hill Decent Control. They are common features in every serious off-roader today, but at the time, they were truly groundbreaking.
Land Rover has also managed to make its SUVs much safer and more entertaining than most ever expected. All models now come loaded with all the modern driver assistance, safety features, and convenience features that you would expect in the finest luxury and high-tech vehicles.
Another incredibly cool feature I remember seeing first in a Range Rover was the screen in the dash that showed a different thing depending on whether you were the driver or passenger. While the passenger could watch a TV show or a movie, for obvious safety reasons, the driver could only see the usual driver information and vehicle settings. All that from the same screen was almost like magic, and Land Rover did it first.
The cons of owning a Land Rover
The high starting price of Land Rover SUVs is one of their main disadvantages. They are one of the priciest cars in their category. But remember, this is an actual luxury car in every sense of the word. Additionally, it provides some of the best off-road performance and capabilities available. For lovers of the Land Rover, this balance often makes it worth the money. But not always.
At this price point, you are better off considering your other options or, if you really want a Land Rover if you don’t intend on using it off-road. If your sole purpose in buying a Land Rover is its functionality, you have similar capable options on the market that are much more reliable and better value for money.
The bottom line is that you should explore your options before straight-out purchasing one. Not because there are necessarily more attractive or desirable models out there, but for the sky-high prices and worryingly poor reliability.
This is not a car for those who lack the resources to maintain their vehicles. The assumption made by Land Rover is that you are either an enthusiastic amateur (of which there are plenty in the UK), a trained military technician, an expert in expedition vehicles, or you are willing to spend whatever it takes to keep it on the road.
Moreover, their thirstier engines are far from efficient, and you will find yourself spending way more money on gas alone. As a luxury SUV, maintaining peak performance necessitates regular maintenance, including the replacement of vehicle fluids and parts. Compromising any of these will drastically affect its performance and, ultimately, in the long run, it will become very heavy on your wallet.
After all these years, Land Rover still suffers from frequent breakdowns. Based on JD Powers’ 2021 problems per 100 car brand rankings, Land Rovers are the worst vehicles by a long margin. They have steep depreciation curves, and relatively new, low-mileage examples can be purchased for less than 10%-15% of their cost when new.
There is a very good reason for this. A Toyota land cruiser with 125,000 miles on the odometer is barely broken in. A Range Rover with 125,000 miles on the odometer has been broken many times and may be broken now. The resale value and depreciation are real concerns and should be considered.
I have Land Rover in my blood. And personally, I’ve never had a single reliability issue driving one myself. Had more than a dozen Discoveries (LR3 and LR4) and regularly ran Defenders, Range Rovers, Freelanders (LR2), and Range Rover Sports. However, each and every single one was brand new.
But don’t think buying a brand new Land Rover or Range Rover is going to let you off the lack of reliability hook. I could write a book about the horror stories of people who bought new ones and had problems, and those are just the ones from the dealerships I worked in!
Sometimes, brands can get an unfairly bad reputation based on a few bad examples. With Land Rover, I can wholeheartedly confirm its reputation for atrocious reliability is well-deserved and doesn’t appear to be improving.
Land Rover sure is a more than capable vehicle, but its downsides make it a less-than-attractive option for many prospective owners. The market at this point is full of equally capable, luxurious, and desirable SUVs, and it is worth the effort to explore each.
On the other hand, a good Land Rover or Range Rover is a magnificent vehicle with unrivaled off-road capability. I used to hate the original Defender for its unrefined agricultural nature, but if I could have any SUV in the world today I’d probably go for a brand new, top-of-the-line Defender 110.
If your budget only runs to a used Land Rover, however, I cannot stress strongly enough how much care you have to take. Don’t settle for anything less than a perfect service history, and always get a vehicle history check to find out what it might have been through in the past.
And don’t assume a Range Rover Autobiography will be better than a Discovery or Defender because it costs a lot more. The extra cost will only be reflected in equally exorbitant repair and maintenance costs.
If Land Rover could solve the reliability issues I wouldn’t buy anything else. However, I started with them in 2004 and their reputation was terrible then and it hasn’t gotten any better since. If you can find a good one, though, you really will have something special. Like any vehicle, there are pros and cons of owning a Land Rover. It’s up to you to decide if the pros outweigh the cons.