It’s been 6 months and 5,000 miles since I picked up my 2004 Range Rover Vogue and so far it’s been pretty good. Not great, but good. Obviously, the risks of buying a 17-year-old car with over 140,000 miles on the clock are higher than, say, buying a newer Honda Accord, but life’s too short for that.
If you search for the L322 generation of the Range Rover on the internet you will be bombarded with horror stories and tales of catastrophic electrical failures, life-ending rust and endless suspension issues – but so far, and I say this very gingerly, I’ve only had a few issues crop up that are more age-related than build-quality related. So far I’ve replaced the glove box, fixed an audio issue and replaced a diesel injector. There are, however, still some outstanding issues. I still need to replace the air conditioning condenser, rear passenger door window mechanism and get the air suspension recalibrated, but all in all, it could be a lot worse.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of these issues and niggles probably wouldn’t come up if I was driving something more reliable and cheaper to run, but there’s a very good reason why I would rather put up with this than drive just about anything else. As mentioned before, I’ve clocked up over 5,000 miles in this car and every single mile has been effortless. The way the Range Rover eats up the road is hard to match, whether it’s a 100-mile round trip to visit a client or a 600-mile trip to Wales and back.
I recently spent a week with the in-laws over on the Welsh coast, and where one shouldn’t need to worry about the 230-mile drive, anyone with a Land Rover will agree that there’s always that niggling feeling that something might crop up. I am pleased to say that despite the air suspension decided to switch itself off the day before I left, we enjoyed an otherwise faultless trip. While we were out there we also headed over to the Elan Valley for a day trip and I cannot think of a better car to tackle the roads around that beautiful part of the world. On the motorways, the car feels settled and smooth and then when the roads get bumpier and narrower, the big Range Rover soaks up every last pebble and crack. It simply floats along keeping everyone inside warm, dry and comfortable.
As well as being an incredibly comfortable long-distance wafter, it’s also been an incredible van. The rear load space may not be as spacious as my previous P38 Range Rover, but with the rear seats folded down, it has earned its keep several times over the last few months. Mainly as a tool for getting the great spring clear-out rubbish to the recycling centre, but it has also cemented itself as the perfect camping gear hauler and also a great dog and inherited furniture lugger…
It really is hard to fault this car – despite all its, er, faults… The thing about Range Rovers, and all Land Rovers is that as an owner, I am fully aware that there are better, more reliable, economical, better-built cars out there, but none of them feel right to own and drive. Every now and then I think about what I would have next when the time comes to replace it, and in all honesty, the only cars I can think of that I would want to get into next are all Land Rovers. Either a newer L322 or a nicely specced Discovery 4 would be nice but in an ideal world, I’d trade this old workhorse up and get myself into a nice L405 Vogue.
The only thing I haven’t managed to do so far is get the car nice and dirty off-road, but being completely honest, I’m not overly confident it’s ready for it at the moment. The combination of the air suspension needing some tweaking and the questionable road tyres. The plan moving forward is to get the final little bits sorted and then focus on replacing the tyres with either some General Grabber AT3s or some Goodyear Wrangler All Terrains fitted and then hopefully get some green lane miles under my belt. If all goes well, I might also treat the old boy to a roof rack and maybe a bit of an AV upgrade.
It’s looking like the odometer will click over 150,000 in the next couple of months so there’ll probably be some other preventative maintenance to get sorted along with a standard service and gearbox service, but fingers crossed the old boy keeps soldiering on and I’m really looking forward to planning a few more big trips with it including some time in Scotland and some more time in Wales.