2003-2009 Land Rover Range Rover

By Chris Chase, CanadianDriver.com

The Range Rover is arguably Land Rover’s best-known model and the one that best represents the company’s reputation as a builder of high-end SUVs. The first generation vehicle was introduced in 1970; the second-generation wouldn’t appear until 1995. It was a relatively quick turnaround, then, when the Range Rover was redesigned again for a 2002 introduction in some parts of the world, wearing modern styling that still managed to echo that of the original 1970 model.

2006 Land Rover Range Rover

2006 Land Rover Range Rover

The powertrains were modern, too: the sole engine in 2003-2005 Range Rovers was a BMW 4.4-litre V8 (known to Bimmerphiles as the M62) that made 282 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque; the only transmission available was a ZF-built five-speed automatic.

Following Ford’s acquisition of the Land Rover brand, the Range Rover got two new engine options in 2006: another 4.4-litre V8, this time sourced from Jaguar, that made 305 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque, and Jaguar’s supercharged 4.2-litre V8, which made a robust 400 hp and 420 lb-ft. Both of these engines were matched with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Find a used Land Rover Range Rover on AutoTrader.ca

The 2006 model year also saw the introduction of the Range Rover Sport, a smaller, lighter and less-expensive truck that was marketed as a more direct alternative to vehicles like the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne. It used slightly less-powerful versions of the Range Rover’s engines.

(The 2010 Range Rover got new engines again, and an eight-speed automatic transmission; these models will be covered in a future review).

Driving a Range Rover won’t help you make friends with Greenpeace: Natural Resources Canada’s fuel consumption estimates for the 2005 model were 19.7/13.5 L/100 km (city/highway). The numbers were a little better with the 2006 model’s new engines, with ratings of 16.7/11.9 L/100 km with the 4.4-litre Jaguar engine, and 18.1/11.8 L/100 km for the supercharged 4.2-litre motor. By 2009, the 4.4-litre V8 was rated at 17.3/11.2 L/100 km, and the supercharged 4.2 at 17.7/11.4.

Consumer Reports has virtually no reliability information on the Range Rover, so we have to rely mostly on anecdotal accounts from Land Rover-related web sites and forums. One source is this terrific page at RangeRovers.net, that lists loads of problems that third-generation Range Rover owners have experienced. By no means does a problem’s inclusion here make it widespread, but if it’s listed here, it certainly warrants noting.

Electrical gremlins are common in British cars, something that not even foreign ownership can take out of this quintessentially British off-roader. A battery that becomes drained after the truck has been parked for a couple of weeks (or even a couple of days, in some cases) could be caused by a number of different things. Apparently, the electronics in the Range Rover are so elaborate that interference from other cars’ keyless entry systems can cause the truck’s electrical system to “wake up” and, over time, drain the battery. Another possibility is that a faulty relay in the climate control system causes the system to activate periodically even when the car is off and locked, killing the battery.

If the air conditioning quits blowing cold air after about half an hour, the reason could be an automatic function that prevents the evaporator from icing over in very humid weather. The BMW 5 Series, with which the third-gen Range Rover shares its climate control system, exhibits the same symptoms, apparently.

Here’s a basic electrical issue troubleshooting guide at RangeRovers.net.

Assistant Editor Jil McIntosh reviewed a Range Rover in May 2010, and experienced a few electrical issues in her test truck.

The Range Rover’s doors have two rubber seals to keep water out; one issue, though, is that in heavy rain, it’s not uncommon for water to become trapped between the seals, only the spill out when the door is opened.

Front differential failures have been noted in early-build third-gen Range Rovers (2003-2005 models). When it goes, the truck won’t move under power, and not even placing the transmission in park will keep it from rolling. The cause is thought to be a lack of any type of coupling between the driveshaft and the differential input, which puts stress on the differential’s internals. Though this truck first went on sale in 2002 (in some parts of the world), Land Rover didn’t issue an official fix until 2008. For more details, read here and here and here.

The Range Rover uses a complicated air suspension system, a common feature in many high-end vehicles. As is also common, the Range Rover system is trouble prone. Go here for details. And if you get frustrated by air suspension problems and want to know how to swap in a traditional steel spring suspension, here’s a video that shows you how.

Rather than go on (and on, and on), read up at the “Remedies” page at RangeRovers.net.

Neither of the major North American crash-testing bodies (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)) have tested the Range Rover for crashworthiness. EuroNCAP, the Continent’s version of the NHTSA, has, and they gave the 2002 model a four-star (out of five) score for occupant protection. The Range Rover scored nearly perfectly in side impacts tests, but EuroNCAP noted a fair chance of knee and chest injury in frontal impacts.

Canadian Black Book pegs used Range Rover values between $18,425 for a 2003 model and $90,350 for a loaded 2009 Supercharged model with the optional Autobiography and DVD Entertainment packages. Those numbers represent a stunning rate of depreciation that seems reserved for British luxury vehicles; a 2007 Range Rover HSE – which sold for a shade over $100,000 when it was new – is worth about $40,500 today. Despite its lower MSRP, the Range Rover Sport isn’t as much of a bargain as you’d expect: 2006 and 2007 are worth only marginally less than the Range Rover, and it’s only in 2008 and 2009 models that its resale values begin to lag significantly behind those of its more expensive sibling.

On the surface, resale values like that make the Range Rover look like a great buy, but these trucks’ complicated construction and extensive use of electronics make maintenance and repairs very expensive.

My buyer beware mantra is especially important when dealing with a vehicle like the Range Rover. Used values that start at less than $20,000 make this a very attainable vehicle for many drivers who aspire to luxury, but it pays to remember what it costs to keep something this nice on the road. Buy one if you must, but shop carefully for one that comes with proof of meticulous maintenance and that checks out with a trustworthy mechanic – preferably one who has experience working on these trucks.


Black Book Pricing (avg. retail) September, 2010:

Year Model Price today Price new
2009 Range Rover HSE $77,475 $92,900
2008 Range Rover HSE $57,050 $92,900
2007 Range Rover HSE $40,475 $100,185
2006 Range Rover HSE $35,275 $99,900
2005 Range Rover HSE $26,800 $99,400
2004 Range Rover HSE $22,000 $98,000
2003 Range Rover HSE $18,425 $104,000

Online resources

The Ranger Rover MKIII Remedies page at RangeRovers.net is an excellent source of reliability information on these complicated trucks. You may not need to look beyond here for what you want to learn. If you do, however, the MKIII discussion section at the same site may have what you’re looking for. There are discussion sections encompassing all generations of Range Rover at LandRoverForums.com, LandRoversOnly.com and LR4×4.com. RoversNorth.com has a MKIII-specific discussion section, but it’s rather quiet.


Transport Canada Recall Number: 2004414; Units affected: 6

2004: Certain vehicles equipped with Dynamic Stability Control may have been fitted with a yaw rate sensor that has internally delaminated, which could actuate the system incorrectly, resulting in uneven and unexpected application of the brakes. Correction: Dealers will inspect the vehicle to determine if they contain a suspect sensor and, if necessary, replace the sensor.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2005336; Units affected: 56 (includes other models)

2006: Certain vehicles may have an incorrectly manufactured guide plate which could hinder the function of the transmission parking pawl. Consequently, PARK may not engage when the lever in the vehicle is moved to PARK and all indicators show PARK position is achieved. If the vehicle was parked on an incline of sufficient grade, and the parking brake was not engaged, the vehicle could roll away. Correction: Dealers will replace the parking pawl guide plate.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2009031; Units affected: 656

2003-2005: On certain vehicles, miss-alignment of the joint between the front differential coupling and the front propeller shaft can cause undue wear to the splines within the coupling. Over time, this could cause the splines to shear, resulting in a loss of drive. Loss of propulsion, in conjunction with traffic and road conditions, and the driver’s reactions, could increase the risk of a crash causing personal injury or death. Correction: Dealers will replace the propeller shaft with an updated version.

Transport Canada Recall Number: 2009211; Units affected: 12

2009: Certain vehicles may have inadequate windshield adhesive bonding as primer failed to be applied by the automated glazing robot during vehicle assembly. This omission may result in a windshield bond that does not meet the retention requirements of CMVSS 212. As a result, the windshield may not be retained during a vehicle crash, which could increase the risk of personal injury or death. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, remove the windshield and re-install it correctly.

Crash test results

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.

For information on recalls, see Transport Canada’s web-site, www.tc.gc.ca, or the U.S. National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA)web-site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.

For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.

Chris ChaseChris Chase is an Ottawa-based automotive journalist. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).

Read more Test Drives on CanadianDriver.com

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2 Responses to 2003-2009 Land Rover Range Rover

  1. The information overload is breathtaking!

  2. Truck parts says:

    Oh yea this bad boy has a 4.4 liter V8 now! That is some pretty awesome power in there now! I would supercharge it though just to give it that extra tourque! :]

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