2004 Land Rover Range Rover HSEView Vehicle Profile
2003-09 Land Rover Range Rover: High-priced hedonist pleasure
“Let them eat bloody cake,” Car magazine proclaimed after testing the new Range Rover. “Hideously out of step with the times, but we want one anyway.”
There’s something conspicuously bourgeois — something 1 per cent — about lording around in Land Rover’s top-dog model.
“You get a ton of respect on the road, like royalty. People just make room for you,” boasted one owner online.
It comes at a punitive price: the maintenance and repair bills can be breathtaking, owners warn. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, governor.
Only the third all-new Range Rover in three decades, the 2003 model was stretched 23 cm longer and a little taller, with the requisite increase in interior space. Its crisp styling respected trademark cues such as the clamshell hood, split tailgate and floating roof, and established new ones, with its multi-lens headlamps and gill-like louvers on the fenders.
Former owner BMW brought the Landie kicking into the 21st Century by specifying a supremely stiff unibody (with integrated chassis), a new torque-sensing centre differential, and an electronic two-speed transfer case that could summon low-range gearing on the fly. A sophisticated all-wheel-drive system was standard issue.
Ancient beam axles were replaced with independent suspensions front and rear, along with rack-and-pinion steering. Air bladders in place of coil springs provided self-levelling and adjusted the ride height over a 10-cm range: higher for woodland ruts and lower for highway cruising.
The cabin was a hedonistic pleasure chamber with aromatic leathers, cut-pile carpeting and rich wood finishes as far as the eye could see. But the dashboard was chock-a-block with more than 100 switches, buttons and knobs that were needlessly complex and distracting. Consult the two owner’s manuals.
Product planners resisted shoehorning in a third row of seats, choosing instead to make the vehicle welcoming for four or five adults, with generous cargo capacity behind them.
Power came courtesy of BMW’s all-aluminum 4.4 L V8, good for 282 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque, tied to a five-speed automatic transmission with manumatic function.
Ford’s acquisition of both Land Rover and Jaguar took some time to gestate. Eventually the Range Rover got a reboot in 2006 that included a styling refresh and two new engines lifted from Jaguar: a naturally aspirated 302 hp 4.4 L V8 and a supercharged 4.2 L V8 that produced 390 horses. ZF supplied the new six-speed automatic transmission. A smaller Range Rover Sport was launched in 2006, as well.
The Terrain Response system was unveiled for 2007, featuring a console switch that enabled the driver to change suspension and powertrain calibrations to accommodate different road conditions. A locking centre differential was standard, and a locking rear differential became available. The interior received a thorough renovation, too.
ON THE ROAD
The redesigned 2003 model climbed to highway velocity in an unremarkable nine seconds. Then again, the Range Rover was a 2.5-metric-tonne monstrosity. Despite the use of aluminum door skins and hood, the Landie’s curb weight had ballooned by 220 kg.
The Jaguar-powered 2006 models were fleeter: the base model scrambled to 96 km/h in 8.3 seconds, while the muscular Supercharged accomplished the deed in 7.1 seconds. The truck scrubbed off that speed handily with its massive brakes and electronic brakeforce distribution.
On-road handling and ride were above reproach; the Range Rover coddles its occupants while demonstrating a knack for curvy asphalt. The big lug shines even brighter off-road, scurrying up stony inclines with aplomb. Fuel consumption? Don’t ask.
WHAT OWNERS REPORTED
The Range Rover provides an intoxicating mix of power, all-weather invincibility, regal furnishings and a street presence that underscores the fact you’ve arrived, even if you’re still en route. But there are sobering reliability concerns.
“They had 32 different Range Rovers, and only a handful did not end up on a flatbed truck due to suspension, transfer case and engine management troubles,” remarked a technician online about an employer that operated a fleet of the luxury trucks.
The Landie’s air-spring suspension is notoriously trouble-prone. The transmission may exhibit harsh downshifts and eventually give up the ghost. The electronics can present numerous problems from failed power seats to countless engine codes. The navigation may quit due to water infiltrating the cabin. Owners also reported short-lived radiators, fuel and water pumps, and bad steering columns.
All are dear to fix and parts can take weeks to arrive. Avoid the troublesome 2003-04 models. Still convinced it’s good to be the king?
We would like to know about your ownership experience with these models: Chevrolet Tahoe, Subaru Forester and Suzuki Swift+. Email: email@example.com.
2003-09 Land Rover Range Rover
WHAT’S BEST: Intimidating presence, go-anywhere capability, plunging depreciation
WHAT’S WORST: Gasoholic, no third-row seats, paying for the mechanic’s kids’ private school
TYPICAL GTA PRICES: 2003 — $15,000; 2008 — $38,000
Used Land Rover Range Rover All Used Vehicles
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