- Scott Murdock
A Little Bit Basic
I’ve always enjoyed a good pairing. Scotch and dark chocolate. Gibson guitars and Marshall amps. Chalk on my hands and Converse on my feet. A weekend vacation gave me the perfect opportunity to discover another pairing I’ve come to appreciate.
When my wife and I started planning a trip to Colorado Springs for a friend’s wedding, we jumped on the excuse to rent something interesting from Turo. I eyed a tasty Audi RS6, but I’ll admit to being fearful of what it would do to my license. Betsy found an aging Maserati Quattroporte, but we decided not to roll the dice on breaking down and being late to the ceremony. Then something very different caught my eye.
“That’s an awfully low rate for a Range Rover,” I thought to myself.
The 2016 Range Rover Sport would cost just over $300 for four days––fees included. That was less than we would have paid to rent a “Ford Focus, Nissan Versa, or similar” from the rental companies at the airport. I imagine that one reason it was priced so low was under the hood. This particular Range Rover was powered by the Td6, a 3.0-liter V6 diesel. The pairing of high-end luxury and agricultural propulsion piqued my interest.
Inside, the Range Rover was exactly what I expected. Even after five years and 96,000 miles, everything looked and felt high-end. Sure, the center screen was dated and there were a few signs of wear on touchpoints, but I understood why the original MSRP was pushing six figures.
Hitting the ignition for the first time made me cackle out loud. I’ve cranked over many a diesel engine, but they were always in some kind of work truck or tractor. Hearing that familiar clatter in something this luxurious felt like cracking open a can of Pabst in the Louvre. Suddenly, the Range Rover didn’t feel pretentious at all. As I pulled away from a stop on that swell of torque, I thought to myself, “I could definitely get used to this.”
The owner said that this was the best vehicle he’s ever driven in the snow. At 5,000 pounds, it certainly should be. That’s on par with the full-size pickup I’ve been using as a snow machine for more than a decade. Power gets distributed to all four wheels through an assortment of differentials, drive modes, and electronic assistants. Wrap it all up with snow tires, and I have no doubt that this SUV is an abominable snowman.
A necessary byproduct of all this heft is the fact that the kind of driving dynamics car enthusiasts prefer are nonexistent. Then again, that’s true for most vehicles that don’t hold a candle to the Range Rover experience.
We shared a rental house with three other couples, and the dirt road leading to it was long and covered in washboard bumps and deep potholes. For those of us with access to the finer things, it might as well have been fresh asphalt. I know that the air suspension in these vehicles can be touch-and-go, but when it works it’s truly phenomenal.
Getting accustomed to the Range Rover’s niceties and grunty engine happened almost instantly. It wasn’t that long ago that I teased my sister about financial ruin after she expressed interest in owning one. After driving one myself, I had to change my tune.
Cue the AutoTempest search.
At the time of writing, the cheapest (clean) 2016 Range Rover Sport Td6 costs––and remember, this is down from an original price of more than $100,000––just $31,900. It’s black with black wheels and white leather interior. The CarFax is clean and the car has just one owner. Mileage is high at 120,000, but that’s also the point where you can start to assume that everything that needs to be replaced has been replaced. Since it’s a Florida car, I assume there is less rust than you’d find on a northern car, but more than you’d see in the southwestern U.S. Bump the budget up to $40,000, and you can take your pick of diesel Range Rovers with less than 75,000 miles.
We’ve all heard that Range Rovers and reliability concerns go hand-in-hand. Doug DeMuro’s ownership experience might have single-handedly killed the legendary CarMax warranty. Gabrielle DeSantis over at MotorBiscuit wrote in no uncertain terms that “you should never buy a used Range Rover.” The problems you’ll read about are very real and expensive to fix. Everybody knows it.
Here’s where I’ll be a bit of a bad influence. Yes, everybody knows you shouldn’t buy a used Range Rover. As a result, prices are unbelievably low. Suppose the air suspension does fail, and you have to spend $7,000 to replace the whole system, as calculated by the enablers at Cost Hack. If you bought a clean, relatively low-mile example from a southern state, you’re still looking at roughly $47,000. You can’t take a base-level Chevy Tahoe off the new car lot for that kind of money.
You also have the option to install non-OEM components. Replacing the Rover’s air ride system with conventional suspension costs far less and is much more reliable. The DEF system associated with the Td6 will raise its hand and ask for attention from time to time, but that’s a problem with modern diesel engines in general, not just this one. There are workarounds of varying legality.
After a few days of driving and internet shopping, I had to ask myself if I was a Range Rover guy. I don’t think I am, but I wouldn’t rule one out. To all of you living in denial of your shameful attraction to driving around in a Range Rover while sipping a pumpkin spice latte––my sister included––I say be proud of who you are. Britain’s luxury SUVs are lovely to be in. They can handle all kinds of terrain. And you know what? Pumpkin spice lattes are delicious.
If liking all that makes us a little bit basic, then so be it.
Scott is a lover of motorized fun, whether on four wheels or two. A child of the ’90s, he has a particular soft spot for hatchbacks and believes all aging cars deserve a second chance at life. If he’s not behind a camera or a computer, he’s probably chasing down new coffee shops with his wife or throwing a frisbee for his dog.
The views and opinions expressed here are his own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.