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Land Rover Range Rover 4×4 (2002 – 2012) expert review

By Stuart Milne, 20th January 2009

The verdict

The Land Rover Range Rover continues to represent the very best in go-anywhere luxury. It’s attractive to look at, well specced and a willing performer.

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Expert rating:

4.0

Pros

  • Premium feel
  • Classy interior
  • Excellent performance

Cons

  • Vague steering
  • High running costs
  • Size limits urban practicality

Full Review

1. Exterior

The basic shape of the Range Rover has barely changed since 1970, with its tall, boxy stance. But despite its traditional appearance, it has never looked dated. The third generation has a genuine ‘premium’ feel, with gloss black trims around the head and tail lights and a choice of classy alloy wheels. One popular design detail are the vents behind the front wheels, which are now colour-coded. A range of styling packs are also available.
Our rating: 4

2. Interior

The Range Rover’s interior is one of the best you’ll find in any car. Gone is the slightly agricultural feel of previous models, and in comes swathes of leather and wood. The centre console features many dials and buttons, but feels intuitive and it looks like it could have been lifted straight from the bridge of an expensive boat. A seven inch touch screen is standard on all models, and operates the audio, navigation and Bluetooth telephone connectivity, and displays the view from the rear parking camera. The dials have been replaced by a 12-inch TFT screen which is surprisingly easy to read.
Our rating: 4

3. Practicality

There’s a vast amount of space for all occupants, although getting in can be a little tricky in confined spaces due to the car’s height (although the suspension can be lowered). The boot measures almost 1,000 litres, and more than doubles in size when the rear seats are folded. It is accessed via a split tailgate, the lower part of which can double as a seat. Our test car also featured Land Rover’s VentureCam, an optional wireless camera and torch, ideal for getting the car in and out of tight spaces.
Our rating: 4

4. Ride and handling

With its size and high centre of gravity, the Range Rover is not a car to be thrown through bends. It’s most at home on long straight roads, where it wafts along impeccably. The steering is light, but has the vagaries displayed by virtually all serious off road cars. It displayed impeccable grip and composure during heavy snow, which left many other cars stuck. A rotary dial by the gear stick allows the driver to cycle through tarmac, snow and ice, mud ruts, sand and rock crawl modes, which sets the vehicle up accordingly.
Our rating: 4

5. Performance

Two engines are on offer; one petrol and one diesel. We tested the TDV8 diesel, which develops 313bhp and a colossal 516lb/lt of torque. This adds up to a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 130mph. Its no surprise the diesel is by far the most popular engine. The 5.0-litre supercharged petrol engine can reach 62mph from rest in just 5.9 seconds, before reaching 140mph. A six-speed automatic gearbox is standard, with the option of different manual selections when on and off road.
Our rating: 5

6. Running costs

Running a car of this size is never going to be cheap. The range starts at more than £69,000, and top bracket group 50 insurance will mean eye-watering premiums. Road tax will cost a packet, with the diesel engine emitting 253g/km of CO2 and the petrol 348g/km. But perhaps the biggest expensive will be fuel. The diesel’s claimed average consumption is 30.1mpg, while the petrol records just 19mpg – figures you are not likely to achieve in real world conditions.
Our rating: 3

7. Reliability

Reliability has been a hit and miss affair with the Range Rover. It seems the older the model, the more likely it is to go wrong. Issues range from faulty oil systems to a whole host of electrical gremlins. Things are improving with more recent examples, but buy one and there is an above average chance it will let you down. The model has also been subjected to a number of recalls concerning faulty brake lines, electrical issues and stability control sensors.
Our rating: 2

8. Safety

The Range Rover has scored four out of five stars in the Euro NCAP crash test programme. Standard equipment includes all-terrain anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and brake assist; stability control with trailer compensation, driver, passenger front side and head airbags and additional airbags for the driver’s knee and rear passengers’ heads
Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

Standard equipment includes hill decent control, adjustable air suspension, multi-function steering wheel, 7-inch touch screen, trip computer, climate control, rear view camera, six-CD changer, 11 speakers, telephone integration with Bluetooth, automatic headlights and wipers, front and rear park sensors, heated windscreen, power/fold mirrors and bright bi-xenon headlamps. Full leather upholstery is also available as standard on all models.
Our rating: 5

10. Why buy?

The Range Rover remains the luxury go-anywhere icon. Most never experience life off road, and act as an alternative to a luxury saloon, but there’s little doubt in its ability – if only by judging its heritage.
Our rating: 5

Expert review 4.0stars

  • Exterior4
  • Interior4
  • Practicality4
  • Ride and handling4
  • Performance5
  • Running costs3
  • Reliability2
  • Safety4
  • Equipment5
  • Why buy?5

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:
Range Rover 3.0 TDV6 Vogue
Budget Range Rover is well equipped.
Best-seller:
Range Rover 3.0 TDV6 Vogue SE
Popular SE spec adds leather amongst its extras.
Blow the budget:
Range Rover 5.0 V8 Supercharged Autobiography
You’ll love the brutal V8 power and luxurious interior.

The Range Rover remains the luxury go-anywhere icon